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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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06 Apr 2018 Sex, Power & the Workplace Responding to the Skeptics. Q &A: Part 3

Today, we’re talking about men and their fears in this #MeToo moment. In our continuing effort to answer sincere questions from skeptics, here’s another good one for consideration:   Why aren’t you talking about men’s fears? And what should men do?   This question was spawned after talking about women’s long-time fears of reporting harassment, including fears of retaliation and of not being believed. Today, men are worried too. Worried, for example, that they will be wrongly accused of something they don’t even remember, or…

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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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26 Feb 2018 Chicago says hands off the help – New law protects hotel workers from guest harassment

  Basic rules of etiquette and kindness should cover the workplace and extend to travel away from home – fundamentally, treat others as you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.   And yet, some folks just can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves.  Thus, a law set to go into effect July 1 within the City of Chicago will provide “panic button” protection for hotel staff against harassment and assault by hotel guests.   Known as the “hands off, pants…

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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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29 Nov 2017 Part 3: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – The Books of Etiquette

  Skip the holiday turkey or the $25 gift certificate. This year, give a gift to your employees that will have a lasting impact on how they treat each other.   Give everyone a book of etiquette.   I’m serious. Make them read it, too. Reviving the lost rules of proper conduct could go a long way in reducing workplace misconduct of all kinds—including sexual harassment (the list is growing every day), other harassment and discrimination, bullying, rudeness, and personality conflicts. Recently, good behavior and…

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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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27 Nov 2017 Part 1: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – Why Is This So Complicated?

  Today’s national conversation about sexual misconduct is long overdue. As noted by firm partner, Norma Zeitler, in her thoughtful blog post, sexual harassment in the workplace has been tolerated for too long. Yet, the never-ending series of exposés, confessions, and “#metoo” posts tends to land in one giant bucket of wicked. No nuance; no context; no gray. Just black and white.   It’s so much more complicated than that. Of course, we are horrified to hear about the crime that involves the alleged seduction and potential rape…

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18 Nov 2016 The World According to Trump: Executives Behaving Badly

  After the watershed election of last week, many people’s emotions are in overdrive. Sadly, some people go too far and unfortunately, some of those people are company executives.   Consider the following tweets from the CEO of tech company PacketSled:   “I’m going to kill the President [] elect.” “Bring it secret service.” “Getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts. Find a bedroom in the whitehouse that suits you motherf***er. I’ll find you.”   Perhaps unsurprisingly, the company dismissed the CEO…

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18 May 2016 Applications Are Welcome; Drugs Are Not

It’s an oft-heard refrain from many of our clients: “We need good employees.” Not just any employees, but employees who know how to show up for work – consistently and on time. Employees who do good work. And, by the way, who also can pass a drug test.   Maybe it’s the lag effects of legalizing marijuana, or the crippling epidemic of opioids invading our workforce. Regardless, communities and business are seeking (with mixed success) drug-free employees. These challenges are outlined, in small part, in an…

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29 Oct 2013 Facebook Users Beware: Even Posts You Claim Not to Have Written Can Haunt You

In yet another case emphasizing the growing impact of social media on the workplace, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of an employer who terminated its employee based on its honest belief that he had posted a disparaging comment on Facebook, which created workplace concerns. Specifically, in Smizer v. Community Mennonite Early Learning Center, found here, the Plaintiff (a male) claimed that the Defendant – whose Director was the Plaintiff’s own mother – had discriminated against him…

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