Future threat: 3rd-party pressure to curb bias


The American Civil Liberties Union has asked federal and California state regulators to investigate Hollywood’s hiring practices with an eye toward addressing discrimination against women. Could pressure from politically active groups be employment law’s wave of the future?

EEOC tests digital charge system to handle discrimination complaints

The EEOC has launched a pilot program to digitally transmit documents to and from employers regarding discrimination charges filed against them. The program—called ACT Digital—is the first step in the EEOC’s move toward an online charge system that will streamline the submission of documents, notices and communications in the EEOC’s charge system.

Solving the transgender bathroom dilemma

As more people are identifying themselves as transgender, the issue of which restroom they should use in the workplace has become controversial and confusing. Until now.

Can we require English-only on the job?

Q. We want to require our employees to read, speak and write English at work. Is such a policy legal?

Sudden harassment claim? Investigate before firing


Sometimes, employees hold back on reporting sexual harassment out of fear, especially if the perpetrator is a supervisor. The first you hear about it may be during the termination meeting. If that happens, suspend the employee instead of firing him. That will give you time to investigate.

Does clicking 'Send' too soon deliver a lawsuit?

Have you ever felt that punched-in-the-gut feeling after clicking “Send” and realizing you blasted an email to the wrong person? As the CEO in this case learned, one misguided email mixed with poor judgment can stir up a potent legal stew.

When making layoff decisions, focus on worker performance, cite business necessity

When it comes to reductions in force, employers must make sure that they develop a fair, reasonable and explainable selection process. Be prepared to show that the selection was based on sound business decisions and that the layoff wasn’t an excuse to terminate employees who might otherwise have a legal discrimination claim.

Leave harassment investigation to the pros


There are compelling reasons to outsource or at least get legal help with a sexual harassment complaint. First and foremost, the investigation must be quick, thorough and reasonable. Employers that drop the ball and don’t punish what looks like a clear case of sexual harassment face a long, uphill battle in court.

Pregnancy accommodations in light of Young v. UPS decision

On March 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in addressing whether employers must provide light duty and other accommodations to pregnant employees as they do for nonpregnant employees who experience a work-related illness or injury. The court’s decision in Young v. UPS did not directly answer that question.

Good news: Court nixes long statute of limitations for rare associational claim


Employees have many avenues to sue their employers for alleged discrimination. Most are common and have clear-cut deadlines. Some are more exotic. Consider, for example, an employee’s right to sue over her employer’s alleged discrimination against her because of who she associates with. Here’s what happened when one worker waited more than four years to make a so-called Section 1981 civil rights claim.

Pay attention to details when disciplining

The more general your discharge reasons, the easier it is for the former employee to argue that discrimination was in play. Conversely, specific discharge reasons make it much harder to argue discrimination because chances are the fired worker won’t find someone similarly situated (i.e., who broke exactly the same rule) for comparison. See how this played out in a recent case.

'Stop!' makes harassment complaint count

Conventional wisdom says that employees who fail to report harassment can’t later surprise us with a lawsuit, since it’s impossible to stop harassment that we never learn about. It turns out that’s not always true.

'Your job or your daughter': Yeah, that'll draw a lawsuit

A boss who allegedly asked a subordinate to choose between her job and her daughter will now have to explain his remarks to a jury.

Judge makes it crystal clear: Question about accent not enough for a lawsuit

Asking a simple question such as what type of accent an employee has or what country he grew up in won’t be enough to prove national-origin discrimination. Courts expect employees to talk to one another and without evidence that curiosity about an accent or a co-worker’s background is tied to some sort of discrimination, judges won’t hold employers liable for national-origin discrimination.

Retaining younger workers but terminating older ones? Better have a good reason

If you happen to fire an older worker but retain younger ones, you should expect a potential age discrimination lawsuit. If you’re prepared, you stand a dramatically better chance of winning.
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