Once upon a time, employees in all states but Montana (always bucking the establishment!) were presumed to be employed at-will, absent some sort of employment agreement (e.g. individual contract for a term, a collective bargaining agreement, policies that contemplate termination for cause, etc.). That means that either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any or even no reason (as long as it’s not illegal – like, say, discrimination or retaliation). And so our well-meaning but foolish Employer is terribly excited by that principle because they want to get rid of an Employee. But … as with all good fairy tales, there is a dark side.Continue Reading At-Will Employment Is a Fairy Tale…
Well I think we all recognize that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has created some seismic shifts in the way things can be done, including in the workplace (and I covered many of the risks and concerns of generative AI for employers in our June 2023 E-Update). Governments at all levels are taking action to try to put guardrails on the use of AI. And now, President Biden has signed an Executive Order on “Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence,” as summarized in a Fact Sheet. This is a wide-ranging EO, but one of the areas it specifically addresses is the impact on workers. Continue Reading What Impact Will President Biden’s AI Executive Order Have in the Workplace?
Apparently, emojis have become such an accepted means of communication that a Canadian court found to create an enforceable contract for $82,000 (plus interest and costs)!! Continue Reading Contract by Emoji?
What on earth (or not) is a Lunar Sabbath, anyway? I’m sure that’s what was going through the employer’s mind when the employee requested a schedule adjustment so that she could observe her Sabbath, in a recent federal case that provides some lessons for employers on religious accommodations – an issue of particular interest following the Supreme Court’s overhaul of the religious accommodations standard earlier this year.Continue Reading Reasonable Accommodations for a Lunar Sabbath?
A few years back, during the initial surge of corporate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in response to the killing of George Floyd and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I wrote a blog post that applauded corporations for focusing on the issue – but also cautioned them to avoid inadvertently violating anti-discrimination laws in their eagerness. Well, following the Supreme Court’s recent decision prohibiting the use of race in college admissions, my (somewhat prescient?) warnings have taken on new urgency. Continue Reading Hey CEOs – Be Careful with Those Diversity Initiatives!
In (rare) good news for unionized employers, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not insulate a union from tort claims that it intentionally destroyed employer property during a strike.Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules that Unions May Be Sued for Strike Damage to Employer Property
On May 1, 2023, President Biden issued a statement announcing the end of the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including those impacting federal contractors and CMS-covered healthcare employers, among others. But what impact does this have on employer vaccine mandates?Continue Reading Biden Administration Ends Federal Vaccine Mandates – What This Means for Employers
As I’ve mentioned before, in my spare time (a lot more, now that the kids are out of the house) I sometimes review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s federal sector Digest of EEO Law (which they used to issue quarterly, but now seems to be a little more sporadic). Sometimes, in addition to the recitation of federal sector cases, the EEOC will include an in-depth article on a particular topic of interest. Although these digests (and the articles they contain) are geared towards the federal government, the EEOC’s approach to certain employment issues can also be helpful for private employers. And that’s what we have here, with the EEOC’s article, “Moving Towards Equality in the Workplace for LGBTQI+ Employees.” Continue Reading The EEOC’s “Best Practices” for LGBTQI+ Employment Equity
So many EEOC lawsuits – so many lessons… Some recent announcements from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which is the federal agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws) provide some lessons for employers on possible reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act – specifically, when such accommodations already exist for the employee in question or their co-workers.Continue Reading Don’t Deny a Reasonable Accommodation that Exists – Really!
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older (and crossed over that 40-year old cutoff for protection under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) a number of years ago), but a couple of recent lawsuit announcements from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission caught my eye – and they provide some lessons for employers who are facing an aging workforce.Continue Reading Code Words for Age Discrimination?