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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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18 Jun 2018 What will really move the needle in improving harassment prevention?

I just published an article in the Ohio State Bar Association Labor & Employment news examining which of the hot topics of discussion in the wake of #MeToo are likely to actually decrease workplace harassment.  The question is not whether it is a good idea to improve harassment prevention – even most employers that have done an excellent job complying with their legal requirements and promptly addressing complaints believe there is unreported harassment out there and they want to  find it.   The question is…

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31 May 2018 Simple Reminders For Developing Healthy Workplace Culture

All work environments develop their own workplace cultures, regardless of company size or industry. The role of culture, when consciously shaped and reinforced, is to bring consistency to the work environment through clear expectations.  Workplace cultures shape, reflect, and sustain business values and ethics, and condemn harassment and discrimination.  This is often accomplished through the physical environment of the office (i.e. open door policy); strong workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination; workplace training; and a complaints process that protects employees from retaliation.   Despite…

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29 May 2018 Workplace Culture 2.0: More Leadership, Less Management

Title VII is not a “civility code.”   Although the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination in the workplace, it does not outlaw bad behavior. It does not require us to each to treat coworkers respectfully. It does not compel us to be inclusive, or tolerant, or kind.   When the U.S. Supreme Court cautioned in a 1998 sexual harassment case that Title VII is not a “civility code,” it underscored the constraints of our country’s seminal anti-discrimination law. The law has its…

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26 Apr 2018 When Is A Sexual Harassment Policy And Training Ineffective?

As we continue our series on sexual harassment cases, here’s a play-by-play of a recent First Circuit case, Aggannis v. T-Mobile, USA, Inc.   A customer service rep (CSR) complains to her manager that her team “coach” made a sexual comment about her outfit.  Score for the manager who reports this to HR! HR follows up, but CSR says it’s no longer an issue; she stopped wearing the outfit and doesn’t want anything done.  HR drops it.  Tough call – management has an obligation to…

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06 Apr 2018 Sex, Power & the Workplace Responding to the Skeptics. Q &A: Part 3

Today, we’re talking about men and their fears in this #MeToo moment. In our continuing effort to answer sincere questions from skeptics, here’s another good one for consideration:   Why aren’t you talking about men’s fears? And what should men do?   This question was spawned after talking about women’s long-time fears of reporting harassment, including fears of retaliation and of not being believed. Today, men are worried too. Worried, for example, that they will be wrongly accused of something they don’t even remember, or…

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04 Apr 2018 Sex, Power & the Workplace Responding to the Skeptics Q&A: Part 2

Last week, we ventured into provocative questions surrounding the current emphasis on workplace sexual harassment. Our Q&A series continues:   Why are only rich men being sued for sexual harassment?   When I was presented with this precise question recently, I sensed a healthy dose of suspicion; that is, a tendency to believe that the women making these accusations are engaged in simple money-grab. Perhaps that is true; there are some who overreact to behavior that is neither severe, nor pervasive. But, our collective experience…

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31 Mar 2018 Sex, Power & the Workplace: Responding to the Skeptics

  For every believer, there is a skeptic.   For the better part of 25 years, I have been questioned and challenged about sexual harassment, leading (I hope) to my deeper understanding about the everyday difficulties of tackling workplace conduct. Recently, in the wake of speaking engagements, training sessions, and panel discussions, those questions have multiplied and accelerated. Most of them are thoughtful inquiries, and I never have enough time to answer them. Here are a couple questions that I keep hearing and my theories…

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30 Mar 2018 Legislating Away Harassment? 3 Main Legislative Paths So Far in the #MeToo Era

As Currents readers know, we have been closely tracking the tremendous buzz that has arisen from several months of high profile sexual harassment (and worse) reports and allegations involving high profile men, and what changes might transpire as a result.  While many legal developments that seem like big deals when the law is passed or the case is decided ultimately don’t significantly change employers’ day to day lives, it seems that something more significant is afoot here … exactly what that something is is still…

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20 Mar 2018 The Box & 1: Defense Strategy against Harassment

  Not even the upsets and unpredictability of one of college basketball fans’ favorite weekends would have revealed much of the old-school “Box & 1 Defense.” But, it may be time to resurrect the Box & 1 defensive strategy as an effective program against harassment.   The “Box-and-1” in basketball is a hybrid defense: four defenders represent the corners of a box as the core of the defense. Then, the “one” is the best defender doggedly guarding the opponent’s biggest scoring threat. Applying the Box-and-1…

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12 Mar 2018 Sixth Circuit Holds Transgender Status Protected Under Title VII

  On March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit weighed in on the continuing debate surrounding the scope of Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. In a landmark decision, the court ruled that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status and further held that bare compliance with Title VII presents no substantial burden upon an employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs, precluding a defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”).   In EEOC v. R.G. &…

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