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Category Archives: Employment Discrimination

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A New Boss Is Not A Reasonable Accommodation

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Litigation, Reasonable Accommodation

The bad boss is a cliché. There have been many movies about evil supervisors- for example, “Horrible Bosses” and (because one wasn’t enough) “Horrible Bosses 2.” There are TV shows featuring frustrating or bad bosses – like Michael Scott in “The Office,” or Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons.” There’s even a website where you can… Continue Reading

Employee’s “Husband” Didn’t Sexually Harass Her

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Litigation, Sexual Harassment

This one raised my eyebrows – definitely not your typical sexual harassment case. In Waltz v. Dunning, the plaintiff began working for a company, BHC, in 2001. She reported directly to the CEO.  They began a sexual relationship in 2003, which the plaintiff claimed was initially non-consensual (she said she only had sex with the CEO… Continue Reading

What Is the EEOC’s Own Policy on Background Checks?

Posted in Background Checks, Employment Discrimination, Litigation

I don’t actually have the answer to that. But someone else will soon – BMW Manufacturing Co., who is being sued by the EEOC regarding BMW’s use of criminal background checks. As we’ve discussed in prior posts, the EEOC is being exceedingly (and sometimes unreasonably) aggressive in challenging employer’s criminal background check policies, claiming that… Continue Reading

Ebola in the Workplace – Practical Suggestions

Posted in Employee Leave (FMLA and ADA), Employment Discrimination, HR Compliance, Laws & Regulations, Workplace Trends

Our last two blog posts talked about Ebola facts and the legal background that will frame any employer actions taken to address Ebola in the workplace.  This post will offer some practical guidance on what options employers might consider. The bottom line question of interest to employers is what can they do with regard to… Continue Reading

Ebola in the Workplace – The Law

Posted in Employee Leave (FMLA and ADA), Employment Discrimination, HR Compliance, Laws & Regulations, Workplace Trends

This is the second in a three-part series on Ebola in the workplace.  In the last blog posting, I discussed the actual facts about Ebola as set out by the Centers for Disease Control – exposure, symptoms, and self-monitoring.  In this posting, I will discuss the legal framework with regard to developing and implementing Ebola… Continue Reading

Ebola in the Workplace – The Facts

Posted in Employee Leave (FMLA and ADA), Employment Discrimination, HR Compliance, Laws & Regulations, Workplace Trends

Media reports of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, along with the recent infection of two nurses in Dallas, have raised fears of the potential spread of Ebola in the United States, and employers are increasingly concerned about what they should do to address the possibility of Ebola in the workplace.  These concerns are heightened… Continue Reading

“Funny Walk” Is a Disability? That’s Just Screwy.

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Litigation

I know that the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAA) were intended to expand coverage of the Act, but sometimes I think the extent of the expansion is just ridiculous.  This was highlighted for me in a recent case, EEOC v. Staffmark Investment LLC, in which the court found that an employee was covered… Continue Reading

Employers Can Be Liable for Harassment by Outsiders

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Legislative Developments, Sexual Harassment

Employers (most of them, anyway) understand that they must protect their employees from harassment by their co-workers or supervisors.  A recent case, Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., provides a reminder that they must also protect their employees from harassment by outsiders. The employer, Dal-Tile, did a significant amount of business with another company, VoStone.  The VoStone sales… Continue Reading

New Performance Standards Could Be Pretext for Discrimination

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Litigation, Reasonable Accommodation, Workplace Trends

In our troubled economic times, many employers have focused on making their workforce leaner and more efficient.  This frequently involves raising performance standards for employees.  But it is important to do so in a thoughtful and legally defensible way. An illustration of this point can be found in the case of Dupont v. Allina Health… Continue Reading

Disturbing Criminal History Ordinance Being Considered in Baltimore

Posted in Background Checks, Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations

I follow proposed employment legislation in Maryland during our legislative session, which runs from January to April each year. More and more, the bills that are proposed use California statutes as models, which is troubling. Employers in our State certainly do not want Maryland to become the “California of the East!” More troubling still, in… Continue Reading

Lessons from the Ivy League on Discrimination and Retaliation

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations

Even smart people can get tripped up on personnel decisions.  Harvard, for example, ran into this problem in Pierce v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.  That case involves an African-American university police officer claiming race discrimination and retaliation in the denial of three promotions and being placed on foot duty.  The court threw out the… Continue Reading

Temporary Conditions Can Be Disabilities

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Reasonable Accommodation

In a happier, pre-ADAAA (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act) time, I could blithely advise clients that any medical condition that lasted less that 6 months was only temporary, and therefore was not a covered disability under the ADA.  Upon passage of the ADAAA, however, this elegantly simple, bright-line rule no longer applies.  Instead, we are faced… Continue Reading

Fewer Work Hours Should Mean Less Work

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Litigation, Reasonable Accommodation

This seems like a no-brainer – if an employee has to work fewer hours, the employer should expect (and assign) less work from the employee.  Well, an employer you would think would be savvy about this obvious point – IBM – seems to have missed it, in the case of Hochstetler v. International Business Machines,… Continue Reading

Racial Profiling in the Workplace?

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Litigation

We’ve heard about racial profiling by the police.  But what about by employers?  A state agency, the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, made the very broad (and aggressive) finding that, “Racial profiling occurs when an employee . . . is questioned, disciplined, and terminated, on the basis of his race.”  That is a strange definition of racial… Continue Reading

Sniffing Can Be Sexually Harassing

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Litigation, Sexual Harassment

It dumbfounds me how creative people can be in coming up with new ways to harass others.  Take, for example, the recent case of Royal v. CCC&R Tres Arboles, LLC, which involved a complaint of sexual sniffing.  Yes, sniffing.  Like a dog. A female employee worked as an apartment complex leasing manager for only four… Continue Reading

Managers Can Be Individually Liable For Discrimination – Or Not?

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Litigation

In a ruling that will strike fear into the hearts of managers everywhere, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that managers can be held individually liable for discrimination under Title VII.  Yes, that means if you’re a manager, you can be sued personally and potentially be on the hook – personally – for damages… Continue Reading

Non-assignment to Racist Patient Is Not Discrimination

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations

It’s a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  Employers have an obligation to protect their employees from discrimination or harassment by third parties, including patients, customers, clients, vendors, and contractors.  But in the case of Blackburn v. State of Washington Dept. of Social and Health Servs., the employer’s attempt to do so resulted… Continue Reading