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]

A Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board found merit to an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the University of Southern California (USC) misclassified football and basketball players as student-athletes rather than employees and maintained unlawful work rules. In addition, the Complaint will allege the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA are joint employers of the USC athletes. The charge was filed on behalf of the athletes by the National College Players Association, a college athlete advocacy group.
Continue Reading Are College Athletes “Employees” Under Federal Labor Law? We Are About to Find Out…

As you may be aware, there is some contentious litigation ongoing between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, a new and controversial golf league financed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (i.e. the Saudi Arabian government) that aims to become a competitive alternative to the PGA Tour.  If you’ve successfully avoided the barrage of news stories on the issues, I’ll summarize the main points for you here:

Continue Reading Wait, Is that Pro Golfer an Employee or Independent Contractor?

On November 2, 2022, a federal judge in Boston barred Harvard University from using its $15 million litigation claims policy to cover legal expenses in connection with its admissions program lawsuit – because Harvard (yes, that hallowed Ivy League institution, full of very smart people) neglected to give timely notice of the claim. Yikes!

Continue Reading Harvard Fumbled the Bag* – A Lesson for Employers!

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

So, many people, including my son, are rejoicing because the voters in Maryland approved recreational marijuana (which Maryland refers to as “cannabis”) last week. Employers, however, are perhaps not quite so excited – and may be confused about what that  actually means for the workplace. While we don’t yet have all the answers, let’s talk about what we do know.

Continue Reading Recreational Marijuana in Maryland? What Employers Need to Know