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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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03 Jun 2016 EEOC Plows Ahead on Obama’s Initiatives. Next Up: National Origin Discrimination

As President Obama’s second term heads toward the finish line, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) unveiled its latest initiative on June 2 – this time focusing on employment protections for victims of national origin discrimination.   According to the EEOC, national origin discrimination, more than any other protected class, overlaps with other forms of discrimination, particularly race, color and religion. These intertwined factors create sticky legal issues for employers where, for example, Title VII requires employers to accommodate certain religious practices but there is…

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24 May 2016 SCOTUS Rejects a Rule Neither Employers nor Employees Wanted: Green v. Brennan Decision

In Monday’s Green v. Brennan ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the limitations period for constructive discharge runs from the date the employee gives notice of the intent to resign. The 7-1 outcome was not a surprise following the questioning by the justices during oral arguments. The justices held that the filing period begins when an employee resigns as a result of discriminatory behavior, not when an employer creates an environment so adversarial that an employee feels forced to resign, previously ruled in 2014…

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06 May 2016 Transgender Bathroom Access Addressed in New EEOC Fact Sheet

In the midst of news coming out of North Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new fact sheet that addresses bathroom access rights for transgender employees. The fact sheet’s key point is that transgender employees have the right to equal access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. This right is provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s protection against sex discrimination—even if there is state law to the contrary.   Employers should note that, as…

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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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15 Apr 2016 EEOC Consent Decrees Highlight That Employers Must Prevent ADA Claims — Or Pay the Consequences

Public consent decrees that resolved several recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) disability discrimination lawsuits are a stark reminder that clear policies and training can help employers to avoid such consequences.   A common theme of the recently-settled EEOC lawsuits is that once the EEOC files a lawsuit it will demand a public settlement that includes substantial financial terms and non-monetary relief including posting of notices in the workplace and mandatory training.   In a case that the EEOC filed against a paper manufacturing company…

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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 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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04 Mar 2016 Should Charging Parties Read Your Position Statement? EEOC Says Yes.

  The EEOC is implementing nationwide procedures that will disclose employer position statements – submitted in response to charges of discrimination – to charging parties and their attorneys upon request during the course of the EEOC’s investigation of the charge.   If the employer’s position statement is provided to a charging party, there is a 20-day period for the charging party to provide a response to the EEOC, but that response will not be provided to the respondent/employer during the investigation, according to a summary…

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17 Feb 2016 How to Minimize Retaliation Claims During the Termination Process

Last week, the EEOC recently released its enforcement data for Fiscal Year 2015. Unsurprisingly, retaliation claims continue to rise and made up nearly 45 percent of all charges filed. This statistic is unsurprising given the relative ease it is for an employee to assert a claim.   In most jurisdictions, the employee must only show he or she made a good faith complaint about an employment practice such as discrimination or harassment and, shortly thereafter, the employee suffered some form of adverse employment action such…

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16 Feb 2016 Refusal to Exempt Employee from “Mark of the Beast” Hand Scanner Proves Damning for Company

  This week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) scored a victory on behalf of a man who claimed that his former employer failed to accommodate his religious beliefs. Beverly Butcher, an Evangelical Christian who had worked at a mine operated by Consolidation Coal Co. for 35 years, feared that a biometric hand scanner used to clock employees in and out of work was really a mechanism that affixed upon its users the “Mark of the Beast,” as described in the Biblical Revelations. Butcher, who…

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