A more conservative Supreme Court than we’ve seen in recent history is poised to consider whether Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination based on “sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a trio of cases in the 2019-2020 term, which begins in October. We previously wrote on this topic here as the Circuit split was developing.

Not even the federal government tasked with enforcing employment discrimination laws agrees on whether Title VII covers sexual orientation. The Department of Justice reversed course during the Trump administration and now takes the position that sexual orientation is not covered, whereas the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is holding firm to its position, first adopted in 2015, that sexual orientation is covered, as is gender identity. Additionally, under an Executive Order signed by President Obama (not yet rescinded by President Trump) and enforced by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, federal contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in addition to (and separate from) sex. Continue Reading Does “Sex” Encompass Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity? The Supremes Will Soon Decide.

$3.8 million dollars. That’s what a Tucson, Arizona jury awarded to a former fire paramedic denied workplace accommodations required under the Fair Labor Standards Act for women who want to pump breast milk for their infants. Under the law, for the first year after the birth of a child, employers must provide non-exempt employees with reasonable breaks to pump. Employers also must provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from the view of others and that is free from intrusion by coworkers or others. Continue Reading Lactation Law Verdict Sends a Message: Don’t Mess With Mom!

I found a recent case to be a peculiar example of how Title VII is not a “general civility code” in the workplace. In Butto v. CJKant Resource Group, LLC, a male executive was terminated after complaining about being required to arrange female escorts for his married supervisor and perform other activities to facilitate his supervisor’s infidelity. It seems like a reasonable complaint, right? But does that mean it was protected under Title VII? Continue Reading Being Required to Hire Female Escorts Is Not Actually a Title VII Violation

On April 23, 2019, a divided U.S. Supreme Court answered a question that had been left open by the Court in 2010: namely, whether an agreement that is ambiguous on the availability of class-wide arbitration could form the basis for an order compelling the arbitration of such claims.  In Lamps Plus, Inc. et al. v. Varelathe Court ruled that such an agreement does not support an order compelling arbitration of class action claims. Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Holds Arbitration of Classwide Claims Not Required Where Agreement is Ambiguous

Here’s a fun new law for all you Maryland employers. As of July 1, 2019, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation will officially be known only as the “Department of Labor.” So now our handy way of distinguishing between the state (DLLR) and the federal (DOL) agencies will disappear. Continue Reading The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Will Be No More…

I often tell my crazy teenagers that it doesn’t matter what you mean to say – it matters what the other person actually hears. (I’m not sure they actually hear me when I say that…) And a recent Family and Medical Leave Act case proves my point and provides a lesson for employers. Curlee v. Lewis Bros. Bakeries Inc. of Tennessee highlights the need for employers to be very careful and very clear in their verbal communications with employees about Family and Medical Leave Act obligations. Continue Reading Be VERY CLEAR In Your Communications About FMLA!

Starting on April 15, 2019, a new Baltimore City Ordinance requires employers in Baltimore City to provide lactation accommodations to breastfeeding employees. Employers must also develop a written lactation accommodations policy Continue Reading Baltimore City Employers Must Provide Lactation Accommodations, Effective April 15, 2019

The 2019 Maryland General Assembly session ended at midnight on Monday, April 8, with the passage of a number of bills of significance to employers, including minimum wage increases, expanded workplace harassment protections, new leave rights for organ donation, new restrictions on criminal background checks, new limitations on non-compete agreements, additional Equal Pay civil penalties, and reporting requirements for gender diversity on boards. As was widely reported in the press, the General Assembly voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the minimum wage bill. The remaining bills await further action by Governor Hogan, who could sign them into law, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature. At this time, we do not anticipate any other vetoes. Assuming that they become law, all but the minimum wage and ban the box bills will take effect on October 1, 2019. For more details about each of these bills and information about our upcoming webinar to provide guidance on compliance, click here. Continue Reading New Employment Laws in Maryland – Minimum Wage, Workplace Harassment and More! (And a Webinar!)

Maryland’s General Assembly session just ended, with the passage of significant new employment legislation, including minimum wage increases, expanded workplace harassment protections, new leave rights, restrictions on criminal background checks, and more. We will be holding a complimentary webinar on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern to explain the obligations and requirements of Maryland’s new employment laws, and to provide guidance on compliance. To register, click here.