Several years ago, I blogged about Emeryville, California’s paid sick leave ordinance, which  is the only sick leave law that allows employees to take leave specifically to care for a sick service animal. As I noted then, “[t]he concept makes sense – employees can take sick leave because they (or their family member) is temporarily incapacitated because of the illness of the [service animal]. (Not because the dog is a family member!).” I also wondered whether other jurisdictions would adopt similar provisions. But now, I’m not sure they have to.

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Most human resources folks know that, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees can take leave to care for a child with a serious health condition, and that the FMLA defines “child” as being under the age of 18. But what some perhaps don’t realize is the  FMLA has an additional definition of “child”: one over 18 years who  is “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” And even if they’re aware of that definition, they may not understand that the disability can be quite temporary in nature. A recent case, Gibson v. New York State Office of Mental Health, clearly makes this point.

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My interest is piqued by laws with unusual twists, like the Emeryville, California ordinance that permits the use of sick leave to care for a family member’s service animal (about which I blogged previously). Here’s another one – Pittsburgh recently passed a pregnancy accommodations ordinance that extends protections to the partners of pregnant employees!

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In its latest edition of the Digest of EEO Law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission included an article entitled, “Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: An Overview of the Law and Recent Commission Decisions.” Although the article summarizes federal sector decisions, it provides guidance to private employers on the EEOC’s overall position on religious accommodations – and (just in time for Halloween) the conclusions are a little scary!

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Ah, the perils of “reply all.” We’ve all been there – but did you know that doing so can implicate the National Labor Relations Act? This was the case in Mexican Radio Corp. v. NLRB. In August 2015, a restaurant hired a new general manager. Soon after this hire, employees lodged numerous complaints with the restaurant’s director of operations about the general manager’s alleged demeaning treatment of employees, as well as the restaurant’s unsanitary conditions.
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So last month, I blogged about my discovery that the Maryland Code does not actually contain all the laws that have been passed, which caused me to wonder how we were supposed to comply with them. And now, I just learned that in D.C., some laws that are passed end up not being implemented after all! Wait – what?!
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The story in Collins v. Koch Foods, Inc. begins with an office romance. A female HR manager began privately dating the plant manager in 2014. Because neither was a subordinate of the other, their relationship did not violate the original iteration of the company’s anti-fraternization policy. In 2016, the HR manager’s supervisor resigned for – wait for it – having an office romance with a subordinate! The female HR manager applied for the vacated position, at which time the HR manager and plant manager admitted to their relationship. The HR manager was ultimately passed over for the promotion (not by her boyfriend plant manager) and transferred to a different facility so that she and her paramour would not be working together.
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As I was perusing a recently-released volume of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s quarterly Digest of EEO Law (as I am sadly wont to do – really, I need some new hobbies!), I came across an interesting article, “An Overview of Common Remedies Available in Disparate Treatment Claims of Discrimination.” (Of particular note, while the Digest, as well as the article, covers only federal sector employees, we’d expect the EEOC to take the same position with regard to private sector employees.) The article sets forth the types of remedies sought by the EEOC when it finds that an federal employee or applicant has been subjected to disparate treatment discrimination (meaning that they have been individually targeted). Although the majority of the list is rather routine, it does highlight some rather interesting remedies sought by the EEOC, of which employers should be aware.
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Ok, I’ve been practicing law for decades, but there are still things that surprise me. And yesterday I learned something about the Maryland Code – that it actually doesn’t include all the laws! Wait – WHAT?!!!!

Now, I’ve always understood a state’s Code (also known by other names in other states, such as the Statutes or Revised Statutes or General Statutes) to be the official compilation of all the laws in the state. Each year in Maryland, the (majority Democratic) General Assembly passes legislation that is either signed by the (Republican) Governor or allowed to become law without his signature. (Sometimes he vetoes too, but his vetoes often get overridden by an aggressive General Assembly, so the bills still become law). Shortly thereafter, there’s a new version of the Code with the new laws placed into the appropriate section of the Code.
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Years ago, I wrote a blog post, “Two or More Genders? Gender Identity and the EEO-1 Form,” in which I discussed what employers should do when an employee refuses to identify as either male or female for purposes of EEO reporting. At that time, I spoke with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs about their approach to this issue (which was to assign a sex based on visual identification), but was never able to get the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to respond to me, despite multiple phone calls and emails. Well, now, the EEOC has offered some guidance on a related issue – reporting non-binary employees (those who do not identify as either male or female) on the EEO-1 Component 2 report.
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