Employment Discrimination

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

When you are an employment lawyer, you tend to view events through a particular lens.  Recently, I had my “ADA specs” on when I read an article about a Duke University professor who, in discussing her book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” made a remark about Libertarians during a book tour.   She opined how she found it “striking … how many of the architects of this cause seem to be on the autism spectrum,”  The professor, Nancy MacLean, continued, “You know, people who don’t feel solidarity or empathy with others and who have difficult human relationships sometimes.” (You can read the story here.)  Continue Reading Along the Spectrum

Emojis and emoticons, which we all use to add flavor and emotion to dry, text based communication on our phones, emails, or Facebook messages, have become points of contention in a variety of legal disputes. (For those of us not in the know, emoticons are created from a standard computer keyboard while emojis are more commonly used when texting or using social media.) This phenomenon should not be too surprising, as there are now an estimated 2,600 emojis (and counting) and they are so commonly used that emojis even had their own feature film this summer, The Emoji Movie (albeit to questionable reviews). Continue Reading Employers – Don’t Let Your Emojis Get the Best of You

Here we are again on the brink of another possible federal government shutdown, and employers may be wondering how it may impact them. The last time, during the 2013 federal government shutdown, we provided a summary of the shutdown contingency plans for the major employment-related agencies – the Department of Labor (DOL) (which includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage-Hour Division (WHD)), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  So we thought we’d provide you with an updated summary of these plans, which set forth what the agencies will and will not do if there is an actual shutdown. Continue Reading EEOC, NLRB and DOL Shutdown Contingency Plans – The 2018 Edition

I am a luddite (meaning that I fear technological change) and am wholly inept when it comes to my smartphone. I know it can do many marvelous things of which I am unaware – but apparently it has a darker side as well, as illustrated by a recent case, Lee v. Trees, Inc. In that case, the court threw out an employee’s Title VII lawsuit because she had submitted fabricated texts, supposedly from her supervisor, to support her claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. Continue Reading Fabricated Texts? Something Else for Employers to Be Aware Of…

Just before the holidays, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice was rescinding 25 documents that the agency considered to be unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper. The DOJ’s press release, which includes quotes from Sessions regarding his decision to withdraw the guidance can be accessed here. Of note, he categorized the process agencies have been adopting in the digital age (especially under the Obama Administration) of publishing a letter or posting a webpage to signify a change in agency guidance to be an “abuse” of the regulatory process, as prescribed by Congress. Continue Reading The ADA Under Attorney General Sessions

Only days after California started selling recreational pot, which had been legalized under state law, CNN reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce that he is rescinding Obama-era guidance that had set forth a policy of federal non-interference with state legalization laws. This action further complicates an already confusing situation for employers struggling with how to navigate the battling federal and state laws on the workplace impact of marijuana use. Continue Reading The Federal Government Is Challenging State Legalization of Marijuana – What Does This Mean for Employers?

On December 8, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has released its draft strategic plan for public notice and comment.  Not to be confused with the revised Strategic Enforcement Plan published in September—which outlined substantive priorities for investigation and litigation—the strategic plan is akin to a company’s operational plan. Continue Reading Some Highlights from the EEOC’s Latest Strategic Plan

Many employers have drug-free workplace policies that require employees to disclose if they are taking prescription (and perhaps over-the-counter drugs) that could affect their ability to perform the essential functions of their job safely and/or effectively. This requirement seems pretty sensible, right? But according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act! Continue Reading Be Careful Asking About Employees’ (Non)Prescription Drug Use

I was recently perusing the latest edition of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s federal sector Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law (because, yes, I am that much of an employment law nerd) and came across an interesting article, “Race Discrimination in the 21st Century Workplace,” by EEOC attorney Paula Rene Bruner. The article specifically “attempt[s] to highlight newer types of race discrimination that have emerged in the 21st century federal, public, and private employment sectors.” Continue Reading EEOC Highlights New Types of Race Discrimination