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

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 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!

A new federal law allows employees to avoid arbitration agreements with respect to sexual harassment or sexual assault claims.  The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 applies to pre-dispute arbitration agreements, such as those included in employment contracts or stand-alone arbitration agreements entered into at the time of hire.  Many employers have adopted arbitration agreements because such agreements can contain enforceable waivers of the right to bring collective or class actions.  They also avoid the risk of run-away jury verdicts.

Continue Reading New Law Lets Sexual Harassment Claimants Get Out of Arbitration Agreements

Throughout the past decade, there have been efforts across the nation, at both the state and federal level, to ban the display of Confederate flags, a symbol associated with promoting hate, specifically racism.  In fact, some states have adopted laws that prohibit public displays of the Confederate flag, while other states, including Maryland, have phased out license plates that display the Confederate flag.  Private company giants,  such as Amazon, Walmart and NASCAR, have also banned the display of the Confederate flag.

Continue Reading Employers – Do Not Ignore Confederate Flag Sightings in the Workplace!

Here’s another installment in our occasional series on the I-can’t-believe-they-did-that actions of employees. Now, I know that there’s a more common term for these types of pictures of a guy’s personal junk, but one of my law partners (let’s call her “Lulu,” shall we?) insisted that I not use it. Even with asterisks. So … let’s see what lessons we can draw from this situation, shall we? Beyond the obvious, of course.

Continue Reading Extraordinary Employee Misconduct: No Pics of Your Privates at Work!

A workplace rumor, especially a salacious one involving a high echelon employee, can take on a life of its own and reverberate throughout the workplace in unforeseen ways that can result in potential liability to an employer and result in expensive litigation.  The Parker v. Reema Consulting Services, Inc. case provides guidance for employers on the issue of workplace rumors and gossip.

Continue Reading Why Employers Shouldn’t Dismiss Workplace Rumors and Gossip—Courts Aren’t

In my spare time (which has been limited during the pandemic, given the whirlwind of COVID-19-related legal developments), I like to peruse the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s quarterly Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law. (Nerd alert!) In addition to summaries of recent EEOC decisions and federal court opinions, each digest contains an article that provides some insight into the EEOC’s position on a particular topic. Now while the articles are targeted towards federal agencies, they offer private employers a roadmap as to the EEOC’s thinking. We’ve blogged about prior articles on religious discrimination, remedies for discrimination, comparing harassment prevention to crime prevention, and new types of race discrimination, among other things. A recent article caught my eye – “Claims of Harassment and the Problem of Fragmentation.” (Well, that’s a new phrase to me!)

Continue Reading What Is Fragmentation of Harassment Claims? The EEOC Speaks