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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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01 Mar 2018 Sex, Power & the Workplace: Protecting Women who Work

With the Oscars in the spotlight this weekend, the lens of the #MeToo movement is re-focusing on Hollywood and the entertainment industry.   But, the challenges of sexual harassment transcend industry and geography.  Even Oprah, in accepting her recent Golden Globes award, powerfully reminded us about victims beyond Hollywood:  those who “had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.”   Fundamentally, it is about those who work, at all levels, and it is incumbent on employers, legally, ethically, practically, to maintain a work…

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26 Feb 2018 Chicago says hands off the help – New law protects hotel workers from guest harassment

  Basic rules of etiquette and kindness should cover the workplace and extend to travel away from home – fundamentally, treat others as you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.   And yet, some folks just can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves.  Thus, a law set to go into effect July 1 within the City of Chicago will provide “panic button” protection for hotel staff against harassment and assault by hotel guests.   Known as the “hands off, pants…

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20 Feb 2018 Sexual Harassment 2.1: Keep Up, We Are Moving Fast…

Last week I wrote a post elsewhere updating business people on the latest developments arising from the tsunami of high–profile harassment reports and allegations in recent months. The bottom line:  we have had relatively few changes so far (this aspect of this year’s federal tax law a notable exception), but it seems almost certain there will be. For literally decades employers could protect themselves from most harassment claims with a good policy (easy), appropriate training (pretty easy), and responding appropriately to complaints of harassment (not necessarily…

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14 Feb 2018 Sexual Harassment In The Non-Profit World

  Much of my time is spent advising non-profits on human resources issues, and the employment issues they face are typically no different than those faced by for-profit employers.  Non-profits are legally obligated to put in place a policy that prohibits unlawful harassment in the workplace, to promptly investigate workplace harassment claims, and to take prompt and effective remedial measures to remedy the alleged harassment.   This is true – in the non-profit workplace – regardless of whether the alleged harasser is a supervisor, coworker,…

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