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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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29 Sep 2017 The Gradual But Decided Shift to a Much More Complex World of Employment Law

  On Oct. 4, my colleagues (and fellow Currents bloggers) Jeanine Gozdecki and Doug Oldham will be presenting a program focused on increasing complexity in the employment law arena. Employment law accelerated in the 1960s when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed, as well as many similar state discrimination laws. At that time, things seemed pretty cut and dried – treat people equally to avoid liability. Many factors have made the world of employment law far more complicated since then:   The number of protected…

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05 Jun 2017 Court Invites EEOC’s Opinion on Whether Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

  We recently updated you on the Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit granted en banc review of the plaintiff’s claim to consider whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Now the court has taken an additional step of inviting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to give its two cents.   The EEOC is already on record in other courts arguing that Title VII covers sexual orientation…

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26 May 2017 Second Circuit Takes Second Look at Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under Title VII

  The issue of whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is in the hot seat once again, this time being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as part of an en banc rehearing granted in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. d/b/a Skydive Long Island. The grant of the rehearing, to include all active judges and those senior judges involved in the original appeal, comes after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New…

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25 May 2017 Need to Check an Employee’s Criminal Background? Tread Carefully

  Federal laws do not prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history. But equal employment opportunity (EEO) and federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of this information. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines that establish the following rules:   Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from treating people with similar criminal records differently because of their race, national origin, color, sex or religion Title VII also prohibits employers from using policies…

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08 Sep 2016 EEOC Issues Anti-Retaliation Guidance First Guidance in Nearly Two Decades Puts Employers on Notice of EEOC’s Workplace Retaliation View

  On Aug. 29, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) issued its much awaited Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues – its first enforcement guidance on workplace retaliation in more than 18 years. In addition to retaliation, this guidance also addresses the “interference” provision under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits threats, coercion or other actions that inhibit the exercise of ADA rights.   This guidance was highly anticipated as “retaliation is asserted in nearly 45 percent of all charges [received]…

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09 Mar 2016 EEOC Continues Visible Stance on Sexual Orientation Discrimination Protection

  As predicted by many, 2016 will likely be a year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will continue its push for the expansion of the rights afforded pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   This month, the EEOC filed its first two lawsuits accusing employers of gender bias for discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Specifically, both cases allege employee harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, in addition to retaliation. There are many local and…

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21 Jul 2015 UPS’ Employment Policies Come Under Scrutiny, Again

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a class action lawsuit against the United Parcel Service (UPS), claiming that the company had repeatedly failed to accommodate certain religious beliefs. Specifically, the complaint alleges that since 2004, UPS has refused to hire or promote certain individuals whose religious practices conflicted with the company’s dress code. Under UPS’ dress policy, male employees who either have a supervisory position or who have customer contact are not allowed wear beards or grow their hair below their collars….

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17 Mar 2015 A Single “Heil Hitler” Not Hostile Enough, Says the Fifth Circuit

No reasonable employee could believe that a single “Heil Hitler” creates a hostile work environment. Or at least that’s what the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently determined in its March 3, 2015, decision Satterwhite v. City of Houston. In Satterwhite, Courtney Satterwhite, an employee for the City of Houston, reported his co-worker Harry Singh for allegedly using the phrase “Heil Hitler” during a meeting. After later becoming Satterwhite’s supervisor, Singh recommended that Satterwhite be demoted and the City ultimately agreed. Following his demotion, Satterwhite…

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17 Mar 2014 Second Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Untimely Filed State Law Claims from Title VII Harassment Suit

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not toll the limitations periods for filing state law tort claims, even if the state law claims arise out of the same factual circumstances as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC Charge. Castagna v. Luceno, No. 13-076-cv, 2014 WL 840964 (2d Cir. March 5, 2014). This issue has not yet been decided in most of the federal appeals courts, but the Second Circuit…

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26 Nov 2013 Behind the Numbers: Employment Discrimination Cases at the Federal Level Decline, But Why?

Readers who enjoy a little data may want to download (free) Professor Theodore Eisenberg’s recent study of federal civil rights legislation data, including federal employment discrimination cases (available here). While certainly longer than a blog post, the article is quick and interesting reading. With respect to federal employment cases, Professor Eisenberg notes the following: 1. As a percent of the federal court docket, employment discrimination cases have steadily declined (though still a substantial portion). 2. There has been an increase in the settlement rate of…

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