Employment Discrimination

As a follow up to Fiona Ong’s blog post detailing the highly disturbing (but sadly not surprising) treatment[1] of an associate who interviewed for and accepted a new position while on parental leave, this blog post focuses on how employers can best support their employees who have taken parental leave—both those who have given birth and those who take caregiving leave and are adjusting to new responsibilities as a parent. As an employment lawyer and mom who returned to full-time work after having three children, here are some tips to support your new parents in the workplace.

Continue Reading Maternity Leave ≠ Sitting on Your Ass: Part II

I’ve previously written about an employer’s obligation to accommodate service or emotional support animals in the workplace, as well as guidelines the employer should consider if it finds itself on the receiving end of such a request.  At the time of that blog post, the EEOC had filed suit in the Northern District of Iowa alleging that a national trucking conglomerate failed to accommodate, refused to hire, and then retaliated against a veteran truck driver because he used a service dog, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (The ADA both prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to such employees to enable them to perform their essential job functions or enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment.) That case ultimately resulted in a negotiated settlement and consent decree in March 2019.  More recently, in July 2022, the EEOC filed suit against arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby alleging that it violated the ADA by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations and by terminating a cashier who relied upon a service dog to assist her with symptoms caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. 

Continue Reading Support/Service Animals in the Workplace – What Should Employers Do?

So some of you may have seen the recent uproar over a senior (labor and employment) attorney’s text message to an associate who found another job while she was on maternity leave. Many, including me, found the text to be wildly offensive and inappropriate. And because I’m a nerd, I also found a lot of lessons for employers.

Continue Reading Maternity Leave ≠ Sitting on Your Ass

So I know that many companies are (appropriately!) focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) efforts. Some may be frustrated at the slow pace of change, and may wish to pursue those goals more aggressively – but that (ironically) can result in violations of anti-discrimination laws, as I discussed in a prior blog post, Hey CEOs – Be Careful About Diversity Hiring Quotas. A recent case provides another example of when trying too hard to fix one problem can create new ones.

Continue Reading Firing Employees to Increase Diversity Is Perhaps Not the Best Plan…

Five years after the #MeToo movement took shape, we are seeing an interesting trend in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge data:  the number of Charges of Discrimination (charges) filed since fiscal year (FY) 2016 are down—significantly. There were 30,000 fewer charges in FY 2021 than in FY 2016. While I expected to see a drop in charges correlating to the pandemic and rise in remote work, it was somewhat surprising to see the trend of declining charges actually began much earlier.

Continue Reading Where Have All the Charges Gone?[1]

Well, the 2022 World Cup is finally underway in Qatar. Although professional soccer does not drive quite the same amount of interest among the U.S. populace as, say, football (Go Ravens!) or basketball, the World Cup is still one of the major sporting events in the world – and there are likely many employees who are following it rather closely. And unlike last time in 2018, the U.S. team has qualified for the tournament, so there may be some patriotism at play here. So we thought we might offer employers some guidance on World Cup issues in the workplace.

Continue Reading An Employer’s Guide to the World Cup

Is the playing of obscene and misogynistic rap music in the workplace discriminatory on the basis of sex if it offends women?  A former Tesla employee has asked the U.S. District Court for Nevada to answer “yes” to that question after filing suit against her former employer alleging that, among other things, the obscene and misogynistic rap music, as well as the actions and statements made by her co-workers related to that music, amounted to sexual harassment.

Continue Reading Can Rap Music in the Workplace Create a Hostile Work Environment?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am always curious as to how things turn out. But often as an employment lawyer, I am left in a state of ignorance. I give advice to employers on what to do in tricky situations, but don’t always hear whether my advice was implemented (I certainly hope so!) or what resulted (good things, hopefully!). And often I wonder what happens to the parties in high-profile cases – like Bostock v. Clayton County, one of a trio of cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII’s prohibition on “sex discrimination” in employment encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity.

Continue Reading Bostock v. Clayton County: The Epilogue… and What It Means for Employers (for Now)

Being “on the spectrum” is a pretty common way of referring to individuals with autism (although my husband, a doctor, had never heard of that. Where has he been? Granted, he’s a pathologist, so doesn’t deal directly with live patients, but nonetheless…). Of course, there are varying degrees of severity of symptoms, and some people with social communication or interaction challenges do not actually have autism spectrum disorder. But these symptoms can pose challenges for those individuals in the workplace – and for their employers as well.

Continue Reading Employers, Are You Regarding Those Socially Awkward Employees as Disabled?

As many employers sadly know, those retaliation claims can be more problematic than a discrimination or harassment claim. Federal and state discrimination laws protect employees not only from discrimination or harassment, but also from retaliation for opposing discrimination/harassment, or making a charge/complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in any way in a discrimination proceeding, such as an investigation or lawsuit. Often an employer successfully defends against an underlying claim of discrimination, only to lose on the retaliation claim.

Continue Reading Retaliation Claims Can Drive You Nuts!