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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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23 Nov 2016 EEOC Issues New Guidelines on National Origin Discrimination

  Earlier this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidelines on national origin discrimination. These extensive guidelines, which update those issued in 2002, define what constitutes national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and provide more than 30 examples as well as “promising practices” that can help employers avoid such discrimination. Title VII is wide-reaching, applying to employers with 15 or more full- or part-time employees.   The new guidelines offer the following definition of national origin discrimination:…

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04 Aug 2016 Five Lessons from Fox News on Sexual Harassment

  The recent accusations of sexual harassment against Roger Ailes at Fox News, and the response of a high-profile candidate for public office about how women should respond to sexual harassment have crystallized into an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.   Since the mid-1980s, we’ve all read about sexual harassment and been trained on it. For the last 25 years, I’ve studied it, investigated it, seen it, taught about it, warned about it, developed policies to guard against it, and defended companies…

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26 Apr 2016 Is There a Silver Lining in the EEOC’s Continuing Quest to Make Employees Untouchable?

At this point, it’s all over but the shouting. In January, the EEOC issued its proposed enforcement guidance on retaliation charges filed by employees. The public comment period for the proposed guidance is now closed. (If you haven’t gone through it yet, settle in, make yourself comfortable and read the 73-page proposed guidance found here).   The proposed guidance will likely be adopted soon and it will likely affect almost half of the EEOC charges filed by employees. That’s because a retaliation charge is either the…

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22 Apr 2016 The Benefits of Adopting an Effective Complaint-Reporting Procedure

A recent federal case from Washington reminds employers of the benefits associated with procedures making it easy for employees to complain of harassment or discrimination. The case is Matthiesen v. Autozoners, LLC, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Case No. 2:15-cv-0080).   Matthiesen involved a female employee who worked at an Autozone store for about five months.  The company’s handbook provided several options for reporting concerns about discrimination or harassment: discussing the situation with management, discussing the situation with human resources (HR)…

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06 Apr 2016 Don’t Call a Transgender Employee “It”

By now, most people know enough about the law to know that you can’t discriminate against a worker because of characteristics like race, sex, age and disability. Those are pretty obvious and those laws have been in place for as long as most of us can remember. However, society and laws are constantly evolving, and there are always new issues employers need to watch for, both to ensure all of their employees are protected from discrimination and to make sure they are protecting themselves from…

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21 Mar 2016 2015: EEOC Charges Rebound

  The EEOC charge filing statistics for 2015 are out. Last year at this time, we were looking at the trend of charges continuing to drop from their peak in 2010 and were hoping the trend would continue. Unfortunately, the drop in the overall number of charges stopped and troublingly is going back up:     As you can see, the chart tracks the number of filed EEOC charges going back to the late 1990s. For the most part, the number of charges ebbs and…

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09 Jan 2015 EEOC to Consider “Best Practices” for Prevention of Workplace Harassment

While most employers likely think of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission first and foremost as an enforcer of federal non-discrimination laws through its charge investigations and litigation, the Commissioners at the EEOC appear to be opening the New Year with a focus on preventative measures.   The Commissioners are scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday, Jan.14, 2015, to consider the subject of workplace harassment and specifically how employers can prevent and address harassment.   The Commission’s meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters, which…

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15 Dec 2014 Some Reminders on Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Liability LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

We spend a lot of time coming up with timely and cutting edge topics for seminars, webinars, and blog posts for employers. However, for years no topic attracts more continuing interest than old fashioned sexual harassment, seemingly a timeless topic because some (mostly) guys can be counted on not to manage their behavior in the workplace.  This week S is for sexual harassment, and a recent case that is a good reminder of some key points about sexual harassment.   The case is Boone v….

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24 Nov 2014 Decision Bears A Close Look on Application of Quid Pro Quo Harassment LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Many readers will have a general sense that there is a difference between quid pro quo and hostile work environment (HWE) harassment.  HWE is (fortunately, I suppose, in some relative sense) the more common form of harassment, and an employer can often avoid liability if it has taken sufficient steps to manage harassment in the workplace.  Quid pro quo comes up less frequently, and is the conditioning of employment benefits such as a promotion, raise, or even continued employee on the submission to a managerial…

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04 Mar 2014 Employers Be Warned- Look at the Big Picture When Considering Harassment Allegations

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has issued notice to employers that they must not view employee complaints in a bubble, but rather should take into account similar co-worker complaints in assessing whether they are being placed on notice of possible harassment. Further, the Court has indicated that even remote employees can potentially establish viable hostile work environment claims based on their limited contact with an alleged harasser, if such conduct is severe or pervasive enough. In Dahlke v. Mitchell Bank,…

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