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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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19 Dec 2017 Tax Deduction to be Curtailed for Some Settlements of Sex Harassment Claims

  The federal tax bill published late on Dec. 15 has a number of provisions that, if enacted, would deny an employer’s ability to deduct payments made in settlement of employee claims. If the tax bill passes, the negotiation of both the nature of settlement payments/court awards and reporting to the IRS will become even more critical given its impact on the deductibility of settlement payments. Get your tax lawyer involved early in the negotiation to help you document your preferred tax reporting position.  …

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05 Dec 2017 Part 4: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – When to Tell the Customer They’re Wrong

  We all know the old adage: the customer always comes first. But, what about a predatory, harassing customer? Not so much.   Sexual misconduct has been ablaze in the news, and doesn’t seem to show any sign of halting. Alaska Airlines was recently pulled into the fray when Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, accused the airline of failing to do anything about a fellow passenger’s sexual misconduct against her. The Alaska Airlines incident underscores the reputational dangers for companies that turn…

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29 Nov 2017 Part 3: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – The Books of Etiquette

  Skip the holiday turkey or the $25 gift certificate. This year, give a gift to your employees that will have a lasting impact on how they treat each other.   Give everyone a book of etiquette.   I’m serious. Make them read it, too. Reviving the lost rules of proper conduct could go a long way in reducing workplace misconduct of all kinds—including sexual harassment (the list is growing every day), other harassment and discrimination, bullying, rudeness, and personality conflicts. Recently, good behavior and…

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28 Nov 2017 Part 2: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – Preventing the Backlash

  Are workplaces at risk for a backlash? How do we preserve and continue to advance opportunities for women when their male coworkers are worried? Worried about exactly where the line is between friendliness and sexual harassment at work? A recent New York Times article raised this question with men at work, who wondered about their own behavior, and also raise concern for their female coworkers.   In general, although women at work acknowledge the recent conversation about sexual harassment is overdue, they now worry…

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27 Nov 2017 Part 1: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – Why Is This So Complicated?

  Today’s national conversation about sexual misconduct is long overdue. As noted by firm partner, Norma Zeitler, in her thoughtful blog post, sexual harassment in the workplace has been tolerated for too long. Yet, the never-ending series of exposés, confessions, and “#metoo” posts tends to land in one giant bucket of wicked. No nuance; no context; no gray. Just black and white.   It’s so much more complicated than that. Of course, we are horrified to hear about the crime that involves the alleged seduction and potential rape…

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24 Nov 2017 Recent Headlines Demonstrate Need for Effective Anti-Harassment Program

  As a follow up to our previous post on sexual harassment in the workplace, this post explores the elements that make up an effective anti-harassment program.   More than 30 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 decision recognizing a hostile environment civil rights claim, it’s hard to believe we have just reached a major tipping point in our society regarding this form of prohibited sex discrimination.   On Nov. 21, Fox News announced a $90 million settlement of derivative shareholder litigation related to…

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22 Nov 2017 Employers Take Note: Sexual Harassment is Not OK … Finally

  Before becoming a lawyer, I was a Captain in the U.S. Army. I was stationed overseas for much of my career, and served a remote tour in a faraway land. During that tour of duty, I learned many things. But the most important lesson I learned — as one of two female officers on the base — was to speak up (and out) against sexual harassment.   I have always been thankful that I was in a position where speaking up (and out) was…

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16 Oct 2017 The Government Seal on EEOC Anti-Harassment Training: Is It Worth It?

  Does putting the U.S. government seal on workplace training make it more or less appealing? The EEOC’s recent announcement that it is offering workplace training modules on Respect in the Workplace has colleagues on the employment and human resources circuit asking each other, “At its core, is this a really a good idea for us?”   After all, there appear to be some immediate advantages: Pre-packaged. The EEOC is offering turn-key, ready-to-deliver training for employees. Let’s face it, who has enough time to develop and…

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