Employment Discrimination

A recent case highlighted a important point under the Americans with Disabilities Act that is often overlooked – reasonable accommodations are not limited only to enabling employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs! They must also be provided to allow those employees to enjoy privileges and benefits of employment equal to non-disabled employees! Continue Reading Reasonable Accommodations – Not Just for Essential Functions!

It has become an all too familiar story in this age of #MeToo (although this one has a twist, as you’ll see below): a supervisor using managerial authority to pressure a subordinate to give sexual favors. In this story, the employee claims the pressure started at hire, involved the supervisor demanding attention, favors, gifts and even food then escalating to demands for sex in the office. The employee needed the job and ultimately concluded that sex was the only performance metric that mattered because the clear implication was that the supervisor would ruin the employee if the employee did not comply. Continue Reading What, #MeToo???

Before I became a lawyer or even considered the profession, I was a waitress. I also was a feminist.  I was 18 and working at a restaurant In Providence RI.  Ronnie’s Rascal House!  One of the line cooks constantly called me “honey, baby and sweetie.”  Every time I put an order check on the wheel and spun it to him into the kitchen, he said it. One day I had had enough and I said, “I am not your honey or baby or sweetie.”  I snapped those words. He looked at me stunned and said, “I am sorry. I had no idea.”  After that we became very good friends. Continue Reading You Have To Believe It To See It!

A recent case brought something to my attention that I had not focused on before. As noted by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Vodopivec v. Anthony’s LLC, Section 1981’s specific prohibition on “race discrimination” encompasses more than just the traditional notions of race – it also includes ancestry and ethnicity! But not national origin. What?!!! Continue Reading Race Discrimination Under Section 1981 – The Lines Are Blurred

I was perusing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recently released Volume 2 of its 2018 Federal Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law (yes, I know I need some better hobbies), and noticed an article entitled, “Assessing Workplace Harassment Prevention Methods Through Comparisons With Similar Crime Prevention Strategies.” The article posits that “[b]y comparing harassment prevention strategies to similar crime prevention efforts, for which empirical research already exists, the EEOC hopes to identify useful tools for preventing workplace harassment.” Well, that struck me as an interesting, if somewhat questionable, approach. But let’s look at what the EEOC says. Continue Reading The EEOC Compares Harassment Prevention to Crime Prevention

This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission trumpeted a $4.4 million settlement in a lawsuit in which the EEOC claimed that Amsted Rail had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by disqualifying applicants based on the results of a test for carpal tunnel syndrome. In the EEOC’s press release, Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St Louis District Office, was quoted as follows: “While it is lawful under some circumstances for employers to conduct limited medical exams after making conditional offers to job applicants, it is not ‘anything goes’.” Wait, what? Actually, I thought it was “anything goes” at that point! Continue Reading What Is the EEOC’s Position on Post-offer/Pre-employment Medical Exams?

In the era of the #MeToo movement, it may be easy to overlook that equal pay is also having a moment. A huge moment. The federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) of 1963 requires “equal pay” for “equal work.” If the plaintiff shows a difference in pay for such work, the employer must prove the wage difference is due to a legitimate reason, which includes: Continue Reading Is Equal Pay becoming the new #MeToo?

On Monday, June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated a baker’s constitutional right to the free exercise of his religion, by exhibiting hostility towards the baker’s religious views as expressed in his refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In so holding, the Supreme Court dodged broader questions about the interaction of the baker’s Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion with customers’ rights to be free from discrimination. Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules for Baker in Same-Sex Wedding Cake Case

I have a friend who is a high school biology teacher. A few years ago, her class dissected a sheep’s brain. After class, one of her students confessed to her that he had licked the brain!!! (I’ll pause here for a moment so you can wrap your own brain around that….) Unsurprisingly, this caused an immediate uproar. The school nurse was appropriately concerned about possible health issues (prions that can cause horrific diseases, poisonous chemicals, etc.). On the other hand, an administrator questioned whether my friend had failed to preemptively instruct her students NOT TO LICK THE BRAIN. Um, what? I think we can agree that is one of those things that is so glaringly obvious you should not have to spell it out as a general matter. Continue Reading Starbucks – Training Employees on the Obvious?

As a minority female, I have had my share of being harassed, and I have felt rage at the unfairness. I completely understand the desire to lash out at the harasser. But actually burning them with a cigarette? Well, that crosses the line (unless, of course, the harasser is threatening physical harm. Then, all bets – and gloves – are off!) But that’s what one employee did, and yet she was surprised when the employer fired her for it. Continue Reading Burning a Customer Is Not the Appropriate Response to Harassment