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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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06 Feb 2015 EEOC Data Released for 2014 Shows Uptick in Retaliation Charges and Allows For State-By-State Comparison of Charge Activity

The EEOC has released its private sector data tables and a press release regarding enforcement data for fiscal year 2014. This data establishes that 42.8 percent of the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination received by the agency alleged retaliation – an all-time high, despite there being an overall downtick in overall charge filing attributed to the government shutdown during the reporting period.   Through its enforcement efforts, and prior to litigation, the EEOC obtained more than $296 million in monetary relief, with more than $22…

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04 Feb 2015 2014: Free Fallin’ EEOC Charges?

Earlier this morning, the EEOC released their charge filing statistics for 2014. For the fourth consecutive year, the number of EEOC charges has dropped – from 93,727 to 88,778. The chart below illustrates the decline and puts the numbers into perspective heading back to the good ol’ days of the 20th Century:     Does it feel like 2007? Well, that’s about where we stand with respect to the overall number of charges filed in the last year. The reason for the decline is unclear,…

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23 Jan 2015 Man Claiming Hand Scanning Time Clock Causes “Mark of the Beast” Wins Religious Discrimination Suit

Last week, a federal jury in West Virginia found in favor of a plaintiff claiming that his coal mining employer discriminated against him based on his religious beliefs by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for his religious objection to the company’s use of a biometric hand-scanning time clock. The plaintiff was an evangelical Christian who believed that the use of the hand scanner was discussed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible when it described the Antichrist as causing all to have a…

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16 Jan 2015 Will the EEOC Get its Wings Clipped? Mach Mining’s Challenge to the EEOC before the Supreme Court

  On Jan. 13, during oral argument, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed businesses’ skepticism about the EEOC’s pre-suit settlement strategy, saying  “there is considerable incentive on the EEOC to fail in conciliation so that it can bring a big­deal lawsuit and get a lot of press and put a lot of pressure on this employer and on other employers. There are real incentives to have conciliation fail.”   Justice Scalia made his comments in the case of Mach Mining L.L.C. v. Equal Employment…

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09 Jan 2015 EEOC to Consider “Best Practices” for Prevention of Workplace Harassment

While most employers likely think of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission first and foremost as an enforcer of federal non-discrimination laws through its charge investigations and litigation, the Commissioners at the EEOC appear to be opening the New Year with a focus on preventative measures.   The Commissioners are scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday, Jan.14, 2015, to consider the subject of workplace harassment and specifically how employers can prevent and address harassment.   The Commission’s meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters, which…

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29 Dec 2014 The Year in Social Media: Four Big Developments from 2014

As social networking has become entrenched as a tool for doing business and not just a pastime of our social lives, employers, government agencies, and even academia have taken big steps in 2014 to define how social media can and cannot, or should and should not, be used. Below is a summary of some of the big developments in social media in the workplace this year.   The EEOC Turns Its Attention to Social Media The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has turned its attention toward…

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01 Dec 2014 ADA: Does “Regarded As” Still Matter? LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  One of the things that makes the Americans with Disabilities Act distinctive among discrimination laws is its “regarded as” prong.  It protects not only people who in fact are disabled from discrimination, but also people who are regarded as disabled. R is for “regarded as” and what it means for most employers and employees in 2014.   While the question of what conduct is “because of” sex and therefore covered by Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition is a hot topic and somewhat analogous, generally…

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18 Nov 2014 The EEOC Sues Yet Another Employer for Allegedly Violating the ADA With Its Inflexible Leave Policy

The EEOC’s position is clear. The ADA requires employers to incorporate flexibility into their leave of absence policies or face the consequences. In late September, we were reminded of this yet again when the EEOC sued a Chicago-area manufacturer for capping the amount of leave provided to employees, without considering whether a reasonable accommodation may exist for each employee. In this latest suit against Doumak, Inc., the EEOC alleged that an employer and its employees’ respective union had violated the ADA by placing a cap…

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07 Nov 2014 Recent Case In Michigan Highlights Increased Focus On Transgender Discrimination

As we previously reported, the EEOC recently made history when it filed two lawsuits seeking to protect transgender workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The lawsuits – filed separately in federal courts in Michigan and Florida – allege that the employers engaged in unlawful gender-identity discrimination after they terminated two employees who were transitioning to the opposite sex. Rather than explicitly allege gender-identity discrimination – which is not actionable – the EEOC carefully crafted both judicial complaints to…

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31 Oct 2014 EEOC Part of Increasing Focus on LGBT Issues

We seem clearly to be in the midst of a shift towards greater employment protections for LGBT employees, evidenced both by discrimination legislation largely at a state and local level and less directly in the legal environment by developments such as greater acceptance of gay marriage including the Supreme Court’s recent refusal to consider lower court decisions invalidating state statutes prohibiting gay marriage.   EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum recently released this interesting summary of the EEOC’s activities and positions on LGBT issues. Highlights include:   Title…

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