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Employment Law

Sexual innuendo can be sex discrimination

Here’s a new worry, courtesy of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals: Allowing—or worse yet participating in—rumors that a female employee is allegedly “sleeping with the boss” to get ahead may trigger a sex discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Staffer’s assault claims cost Jackson Lee two House posts

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has agreed to step down from two positions in the U.S. House of Representatives after a former Capitol Hill staffer filed a lawsuit alleging she had been fired for reporting she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker.

Lawsuit: No place to express breast milk at KFC

A Texas company that owns Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises in Delaware faces a sex discrimination lawsuit charging that it denied an employee the opportunity to pump breast milk.

Workers’ comp: What happens in Texas stays in Texas

Employees claiming retaliation for making a workers’ compensation claim in Texas can’t make a federal case out of it. Such claims must be heard in state courts.

Is that hate speech … or merely offensive?

When it comes to offensive speech at work, context matters. Simply put, some terms have a history as expressions of racial hatred and bigotry. Therefore, they’re always inappropriate. However, other terms are not so fraught with hatred; they are just offensive.

Need to lay off older employee? You can do so without violating age discrimination laws

Eliminating an older worker’s job doesn’t necessarily mean you are committing age discrimination—as long as you don’t replace the worker with someone substantially younger.

Light duty for pregnant employees? Not if you don’t offer it to other disabled workers

Pregnant employees are entitled to light-duty assignments if the employer allows other disabled employees to be assigned to temporary light-duty positions. But what if no such work is available?

FMLA: Keep records of all absences, whether or not they were approved

Sloppy attendance record-keeping can lead to lengthy and expensive litigation. Particular trouble awaits if you fire an employee for poor attendance around the time she requests or takes FMLA leave. That almost guarantees a lawsuit.

Have a hotline? Take all complaints seriously

Most employers have heard that setting up a hotline so employees can report discrimination will help them defend against lawsuits later. But that hotline can also bite the employer if it doesn’t take complaints seriously and try to fix reported problems.

Denied lateral transfer isn’t adverse action

Generally, a worker cannot win a discrimination lawsuit without showing he experienced an adverse employment action such as discharge or demotion. A denied lateral transfer may not count.