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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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01 Feb 2016 UGH!! Now They Want Wage Info on the EEO-1?!?

  On Jan. 29, the White House announced that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will issue proposed regulations to modify the Employer Information Report, known as the EEO-1, to include collecting pay data from employers with more than 100 employees. The EEOC says it needs this pay data to “assist . . . in identifying possible pay discrimination and assist employers in promoting equal pay in their workplaces.”   Currently, the EEO-1 gathers information on employers’ workforces by race, ethnicity, sex, and job category….

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26 Jan 2016 The EEOC wants to hear your opinion on retaliation claims under Title VII

  If you would like to add your two cents to the debate about compliance with anti-retaliation provisions in Title VII and other federal non-discrimination statutes, the EEOC is listening.   The EEOC has announced that it has prepared an Enforcement Guidance on retaliation and has now opened the process for public comments.  The EEOC last issued guidance on retaliation back in 1998, so now it is seeking to update its guidance to incorporate recent rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts…

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12 Jan 2016 Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination Really Sex Discrimination? The EEOC Wants Courts To Think So

  Although sexual orientation is not specifically listed as a protected class under Title VII, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is fighting to expand the law through judicial interpretation to protect sexual orientation. The EEOC’s latest efforts came in an amicus brief filed in Burrows v. College of Central Florida, an Eleventh Circuit case in which the plaintiff claims she lost her job because she is a lesbian.   The EEOC makes the following arguments in its attempt to persuade the court that sexual…

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08 Jan 2016 Permanent Lifting Restrictions and the ADA

  Permanent lifting restrictions can be a headache for employers when navigating through the accommodation process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In determining the reasonableness of accommodating these restrictions, employers should review the essential functions of the position, whether it has provided similar accommodations, and whether such an accommodation could be provided permanently. All of this can be time consuming and difficult and can result in litigation if done wrong. However, a recent decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals provides some…

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03 Dec 2015 EEOC Issues Additional Guidance on Job Rights for Employees with HIV

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two separate guidance documents this week addressing employees with HIV. The first of the two documents, “Living with HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA,” is aimed at employees with HIV.  The document assures employees that, for the most part, they have the right to keep their condition confidential, but that they might have to disclose the condition if they are seeking reasonable accommodation, are being evaluated for eligibility for certain employee benefits or…

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GINA Compliance
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24 Nov 2015 It’s Time to Give Your Employee Wellness Programs a Check-Up to Ensure Compliance with GINA

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently provided employers with some food for thought in considering their employee wellness programs in relation to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). In Ortiz v. City of San Antonio Fire Dep’t. (SAFD), the collective bargaining unit allowed for a mandatory wellness program for all SAFD employees. As part of SAFD’s mandatory requirements, all uniformed employees were required to submit to a “job-related medical evaluation,” which included a physical exam; blood and urine tests; and testing…

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