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Employment & Labor Insider

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Category Archives: Harassment

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Before you fire that political extremist . . .

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, HR, Politics, Public Sector Employment, Social media, Wrongful Discharge
If you’re a private sector employer, you can generally fire an at-will employee for his or her political beliefs or expression. The First Amendment, as we discussed last week, does not limit you. Depending on where you are, there may be state or local laws protecting employees from discrimination based on their political beliefs or… Continue Reading

Employer Beware: Bad “optics” create hostile work environment?

Posted in Harassment, Sexual Torts
Yesterday, I posted about a disability discrimination case that the employer did not really screw up. Even so, a few less-than-optimal moves resulted in an adverse jury verdict that was upheld on appeal. In Chapter 2 of our series on “employers who didn’t really screw up but still lost” is a sexual harassment case that bothers me, involving… Continue Reading

Are you a harassment “daredevil”? Here are 5 behaviors that put you at risk.

Posted in Harassment, Social media
Not every obnoxious workplace behavior is unlawful harassment. To violate federal law, the harassment has to be unwelcome, based on a “protected category” (for example, sex or race), and “severe or pervasive.” But most employers aren’t satisfied with banning only “illegal” behavior, and rightfully not. The law does a fairly good job of keeping us from each other’s… Continue Reading

Happy 45th birthday, Title IX: You’ve changed a bit over the years

Posted in Discrimination, Gender Identity Discrimination, Harassment, Politics, Sexual Torts
LaLonnie wrote this post with Sandra Sok, who is clerking for the summer in our Denver Office. Sandra is a rising second-year student at the University of Colorado Law School. Before starting law school, she worked as a paralegal while earning her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Irvine. A law was born.  On June 23,… Continue Reading

It’s SUMMER! Top 4 ways employers can get burned

Posted in Gender Identity Discrimination, Harassment, HR, Wage-Hour, Workers' Compensation
We officially entered the season of summer this week. What are the most common ways employers can get burned? I can think of four right off the bat. (In the 1960s, melanoma was cool.) Sexist air conditioning. It seems like a long time since we’ve read anything about this employment law “issue.” The idea was that… Continue Reading

“Ask Amy,” part deux: Amy gets the message

Posted in Harassment, HR
I recently complained that Amy Dickson, author of the “Ask Amy” syndicated advice column, had given some poor (or at least premature) employment law advice to a reader. Apparently, a number of her readers expressed similar concerns, and, to her credit, Amy has corrected herself — twice now. The first correction appeared this past Monday: Dear Amy: “Worried… Continue Reading

10 habits of highly effective HR professionals (April Fool’s edition)

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Corporate Culture, Discrimination, Elections, Employment at Will, Equal Pay, Family and Medical Leave Act, Harassment, HR, Labor Relations, Politics, Protected Concerted Activity, Retaliation, Safety, Wage-Hour, Workers' Compensation
DEAR READERS: Before you accuse me of legal malpractice, take a look at tomorrow’s date.   Habit 1: Discriminate, retaliate, harass — have a ball! There’s a new sheriff in town, with a more employer-friendly, compliance-assistance-oriented U.S. Department of Labor (we think) and the nullification of burdensome regulations like the gone-and-not-lamented Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule.… Continue Reading

Weekly catch-up

Posted in ConstangyTV, Harassment, HR, Only in California, Wage-Hour
A “print and save” for California employers, to be sure. Richard Bromley and Aaron Rutschman of our Los Angeles-Century City Office have a comprehensive guide to the Golden State’s often-confusing laws on paid meal and rest breaks. If you have operations in California, you need to read this and keep a copy for future reference. The… Continue Reading

Is Siri a victim and a cause of sexual harassment?

Posted in Harassment
The next time employers offer sexual harassment training, they might want to require employees to bring their mobile devices. According to Leah Fessler, virtual assistants Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), Cortana (Microsoft), and Google Home (you have to ask?) need some consciousness-raising. They are all perpetuating pernicious sexual stereotypes, which Ms. Fessler says can result in sexual harassment of… Continue Reading

Workplace harassment: EEOC’s employer best practices

Posted in Elections, Harassment, Politics, Sexual Orientation
How can an employer best prevent workplace harassment from occurring, and deal with it effectively when it occurs? What would the EEOC say employers should do? This is my third and final installment on the proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment, which was recently issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is accepting comments until February… Continue Reading

9 “fun” facts about workplace harassment, from the EEOC

Posted in Harassment
Last week, I shared with you what I didn’t like about the proposed Enforcement Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on workplace harassment. Well, this is warm-and-fuzzy week. Moving on to the parts of the proposed guidance that I thought were well done, I’ve tried to boil the rest of the proposed guidance into nine… Continue Reading

Nitpicking the EEOC’s proposed guidance on harassment

Posted in Discrimination, Gender Identity Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Orientation
This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a proposed Enforcement Guidance on workplace harassment. It’s 75 pages long, so a little too much to cover in a single blog post. The EEOC is seeking comments from the public until February 9, so I will start with the comment-worthy provisions. Next week, I’ll post about… Continue Reading

Oh, wait a minute — sexual orientation bias DOES violate Title VII?

Posted in Gender Identity Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Orientation
Feeling whipsawed? Last summer, I reported on the Hively v. Ivy Tech decision, in which a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not “sex discrimination” or unlawful sex stereotyping that violates Title VII. That decision has since been vacated, and the case will… Continue Reading

Workplace investigations and the case of the planted peanut butter

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Discrimination, Harassment
I’m a week late with this follow-up. (Sorry.) Two weeks ago, I posted about an employee (fictionally named “Zoey”) who had a peanut allergy. After she asked a peanut-butter-loving co-worker (“Addison”) to be considerate, Zoey found a big glob of peanut butter smeared under her desk, which caused her to get sick. Addison denied being responsible. To… Continue Reading

Peanut passions, the ADA, and co-workers who take an employee’s allergy with a grain of salt

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Discrimination, Harassment
Karla Miller of the “WorkAdvice” column in the Washington Post had a doozy last week. I’m going to assume that all the people involved in this story are female. I’m probably wrong, but that will allow me to make up fake names for them. PEANUT BUTTER PASSION The letter writer (let’s call her Zoey), had a peanut allergy… Continue Reading

EEOC Small Business Resource Center: Two thumbs up!

Posted in Discrimination, Equal Pay, Gender Identity Discrimination, Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, GINA, Harassment, Pregnancy, Product Review, Retaliation, Sexual Orientation
I spent some time yesterday at the new Small Business Resource Center, which went live this week on the website of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I think it’s great. Small businesses, which may be just below or at the cusp of coverage by federal anti-discrimination laws, are often confused about (1) whether they are covered, and (2)… Continue Reading

Employer dos and don’ts for 2016 elections (NLRB-friendly version)

Posted in Harassment, Labor Relations, Protected Concerted Activity, Social media
Labor Day marked the beginning of the “serious” election season. In 2012, I posted on dos and don’ts for employers, but many of my old recommendations aren’t going to work in today’s labor law climate. Here’s an updated guide to help employers and their employees survive to November 8, and beyond, which I think will comply with the… Continue Reading

Holey moley! Fox News pays $20MM to settle Gretchen Carlson sexual harassment case

Posted in Harassment, Settlements
This just in, via Law360: Fox News has settled Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against former CEO Roger Ailes for a (reported) whopping $20 million. That’s less than the reported $60 million contract buyout of Mr. Ailes, but still pretty good. Since the link to Law360 won’t work, and it requires a paid subscription anyway, here’s a… Continue Reading

About that new “cat’s paw” decision . . .

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Misconduct, Retaliation, USERRA
Employers should beware of being too quick to believe an employee who accuses a co-worker of wrongdoing. If the accuser has an illegal motive (such as discrimination or retaliation), and if the employer is “negligent” in investigating before taking action against the co-worker, then the employer could be legally responsible. So says the U.S. Court of Appeals… Continue Reading

Notes from the Industry Liaison Group National Conference

Posted in Affirmative Action, Discrimination, Equal Pay, Gender Identity Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Orientation
The 2016 Industry Liaison Group National Conference was held last week in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sylvia Smith, an Affirmative Action Specialist from our firm’s Atlanta Office, and I had the pleasure and privilege of attending and presenting this year. The headliners, as usual, were Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and… Continue Reading

Conservative expression may be unlawful harassment, EEOC says

Posted in Harassment
Is wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” cap to work a form of racial harassment? According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it could be, even though the EEOC acknowledges that the Gadsden Flag “originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context,” and has been “used to express various non-racial sentiments.” Such as support of… Continue Reading