Employment Discrimination

Does an employer violate discrimination laws when it acts on information that it honestly believes about an employee that disqualifies him from the job? Even if the employer might be mistaken and the employee has a legally protected disability? An appellate court recently provided the answer. No!!

Continue Reading Are Rumor Based Beliefs a Defense to Discrimination Claims?

I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, and many of us are just pretending that life has returned to normal. But, just as the darned variants continue to evolve, so does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s What You Should Know About COVID and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws guidance. This week, the EEOC updated a number of its Q&As, with some more targeted guidance for employers. Of particular interest (at least to this management-side attorney) are the newly-identified factors that employers should consider to establish a business-necessity for viral testing and those that are relevant to the direct threat assessment.  Here’s our summary of most of the updated questions:

Continue Reading The EEOC Updates Its COVID Guidance for Employers – Testing, Accommodations, Direct Threat and More

When considering a request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers focus on what will enable an employee to perform the essential functions of their job. But the reasonable accommodation obligation is actually broader than that. As set forth in the EEOC’s regulations, employers must also provide reasonable accommodations that enable an employee with a disability “to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.” And this encompasses certain activity outside the workplace – such as parking.

Continue Reading Reasonable Accommodations Don’t Just Start at the Office Door…

In this third (and final) post of our mini-series based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s pay discrimination article, we’ll take a look at the barriers to pay equity identified by the EEOC and their suggestions for preventing pay discrimination. As previously noted, the EEOC issues a quarterly digest of EEO law that sometimes includes an article, like this one, providing insight into the EEOC’s approach to (and expansion of!) discrimination protections for employees. Again, while the EEOC’s article is focused on the federal workplace, many of their observations and action items are equally applicable to the private workplace. Our first post discussed pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, and the second addressed the intersectionality and sex-plus discrimination theories. So now we move from the legal theories to the practical considerations.

Continue Reading The EEOC Speaks: Pay Discrimination – Barriers and Suggested Actions

In my first blog post in this little series based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s article “In Pursuit of Pay Examining Barriers to Equal Pay, Intersectional Discrimination Theory, and Recent Pay Equity Initiatives,” I covered the EEOC’s explanation of the difference between pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. (As I explained last time, the EEOC issues a quarterly Digest of EEO Law that occasionally contains articles of interest to the private employer community. Prior articles that I’ve shared include those on fragmentation of harassment claims,  religious discrimination, comparing harassment prevention to crime prevention, and new types of race discrimination, among other things). In this post, we’ll review the EEOC’s take on intersectionality (one of the EEOC’s new favorite topics) and sex-plus discrimination in the context of pay discrimination claims.
Continue Reading The EEOC Speaks: Pay Discrimination – Intersectionality and Sex-Plus

So, as you may or may not know, I periodically review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s quarterly Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law for fun. (I know, I need a better hobby). Among the summaries of recent EEOC decisions and federal court opinions related to the federal workplace, a digest might also contain an in-depth article on a particularly hot area of interest to the EEOC. Although the articles are targeted towards federal agencies, as I’ve previously noted, they offer private employers a roadmap as to the EEOC’s thinking. And the most recent article is just chock full of interesting tidbits about pay discrimination – a topic of particular focus for the Biden administration. In fact, the article is so jam-packed, I’m going to break it up into a few different blog posts, starting off with this one, which covers the EEOC’s discussion of the  Equal Pay Act v. Title VII. I’ve boiled down the EEOC’s discussion into a more direct comparison of the differences.

Continue Reading The EEOC Speaks: Pay Discrimination – the EPA v. Title VII

In the latest entry in our series on extraordinary workplace misconduct, we must come to terms with the fact that not everyone loves birthdays or surprises. And, when an employee tells you that they don’t want a surprise birthday party, you’d best oblige them or you could face a discrimination suit and a nearly half a million-dollar jury verdict!

As the Washington Post, New York Times, and our Twitter scrolling reported, a Kentucky-based medical laboratory, Gravity Diagnostics, was found liable by a jury for disability discrimination when it fired an employee who suffered from an anxiety disorder that caused panic attacks. As a result, the jury awarded $450,000 in damages for lost wages and emotional distress. However, it’s the series of events that prompted the employer’s actions that are truly extraordinary.

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: Celebrating you is a piece of cake…

The Maryland General Assembly’s 2022 session ended at midnight on Monday, April 11. There were a number of bills passed of significance to employers, including the creation of a paid family leave program, an expanded definition of illegal harassment, an extension of the statute of limitations for employment discrimination and harassment claims, reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities, the possibility of recreational marijuana, revisions to Maryland’s Personal Information Protection law, and Juneteenth as a new State holiday. For more details about each of these bills and information about our upcoming webinar on April 28, 2022 to provide guidance on compliance, click here.

Continue Reading New Employment Laws in Maryland – Paid Family and Medical Leave, Expanded Definition of Harassment, Disability Accommodations and More (and a Webinar!)

With the play-in games underway, March Madness has officially descended upon employers everywhere. An estimated 40 million Americans will fill out tournament brackets, and chances are all of them will be imperfect (1 in 120.2 billion to be exact, and that’s only if you know a little bit about basketball).  During this time of the year, employers should keep in mind legal implications of any office bracket pools, and should plan to keep a closer eye on productivity given how much is typically lost in March.  Whether employees are working from home or from the office, chances are they may use their work time to make picks. And when the tournament begins, you can be sure that many employees will be checking scores during their work time, if not actually watching the game. This post will serve as a helpful guide to employers on March Madness issues  in the workplace, including gambling and lost productivity, and will provide helpful recommendations on how employers should navigate them.

Continue Reading An (Updated) Employer’s Guide to March Madness

Is it considered identify theft? Interview fraud? Maybe something like the prank that Jim and Pam pulled on Dwight when they replaced Jim with an actor? Whatever it is, employers should beware that applicants are no longer just puffing the proficiency of their skills, but have come up with surprisingly bold and creative ways to fraudulently secure a job through the virtual interview process.

One recent example of what the New York Times terms “extensive image creation” was reported by askamanager.org. A company’s new hire turned out not to be the same person that was interviewed for the position. After three rounds of interviews, one of the hiring managers noticed that something was off with their new hire after a little over a week on the job. The first signs that something was afoot included the new hire wearing glasses when he had worn none during his interview, and he had completely different hair. The new hire had previously made references to being single during his interview from an indoor desk area, but he now spoke with coworkers about having to work in the garage because his three children and wife were at home. He also “re-introduced” himself to an HR Business Partner who was on two of three rounds of interviews and had extensive discussions with the new hire. Even more, the new hire couldn’t answer questions which were pivotal to the position even though they were previously confidently and articulately discussed in the interview.

Continue Reading Who are you and what did you do with my job candidate?