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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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26 Apr 2018 When Is A Sexual Harassment Policy And Training Ineffective?

As we continue our series on sexual harassment cases, here’s a play-by-play of a recent First Circuit case, Aggannis v. T-Mobile, USA, Inc.   A customer service rep (CSR) complains to her manager that her team “coach” made a sexual comment about her outfit.  Score for the manager who reports this to HR! HR follows up, but CSR says it’s no longer an issue; she stopped wearing the outfit and doesn’t want anything done.  HR drops it.  Tough call – management has an obligation to…

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04 Apr 2018 Sex, Power & the Workplace Responding to the Skeptics Q&A: Part 2

Last week, we ventured into provocative questions surrounding the current emphasis on workplace sexual harassment. Our Q&A series continues:   Why are only rich men being sued for sexual harassment?   When I was presented with this precise question recently, I sensed a healthy dose of suspicion; that is, a tendency to believe that the women making these accusations are engaged in simple money-grab. Perhaps that is true; there are some who overreact to behavior that is neither severe, nor pervasive. But, our collective experience…

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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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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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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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07 Oct 2016 Sexual Harassment Retaliation Claim Nets Million-Dollar Verdict

  A Chicago-area hospital was hit with a seven-figure jury verdict this week in a whistleblower claim filed by an emergency room doctor, who complained the hospital fired him after he repeatedly warned that one of his E.R. colleagues was sexually harassing subordinates.   The plaintiff – the doctor who is now practicing elsewhere – filed a retaliatory discharge complaint against the hospital, alleging it was common practice for doctors to warn new resident physicians about his colleague—whom he reportedly called a “sexual predator.” He…

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04 Aug 2016 Five Lessons from Fox News on Sexual Harassment

  The recent accusations of sexual harassment against Roger Ailes at Fox News, and the response of a high-profile candidate for public office about how women should respond to sexual harassment have crystallized into an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.   Since the mid-1980s, we’ve all read about sexual harassment and been trained on it. For the last 25 years, I’ve studied it, investigated it, seen it, taught about it, warned about it, developed policies to guard against it, and defended companies…

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