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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Title VII Held to Cover Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Seventh Circuit


On April 4, 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held – in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana – that discrimination based upon an employee’s sexual orientation is prohibited by Title VII.  The relevant facts of the case were that the plaintiff (Hively), a professor at the college, did not have her employment renewed with the defendant-college.  She claimed that it was because she is a lesbian.  The Seventh Circuit is the first court to make such a holding, finding that an interpretation of the law extends to protect gays and lesbians from employment decisions based on their sexual orientation.  In fact, as recently as last week, the Second Circuit (the Circuit that covers New York State) – in the case of Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc. –  held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII.


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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Employment Contracts 101


Does my business need to rely on employment contracts?

Business owners face a number of challenges, not the least of which is the potential for employee lawsuits. One way to minimize their legal liabilities is to put in place comprehensive employment agreements. In short, a well thought out agreement will clarify the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees.

Obviously, employment contracts are not necessary for all employees, but rather executives, senior management, sales people and others who have a decision making role or an ownership interest. Let's take a look at some of the key elements of an employment agreement.


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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

EEOC Proposes Enforcement Guidance on Workplace Harassment


How can my business prevent harassment in the workplace?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently proposed enforcement guidance to address unlawful workplace harassment under federal anti-discrimination laws.

This proposal is based substantially on an EEOC report issued in June 2016 which encouraged employers to establish and implement comprehensive anti-harassment policies, communicate these policies to employees, provide anti-harassment training, and conduct regular self assessments to prevent harassment.

In short, the guidance seeks to clarify the legal standards regarding harassment claims based on race, color, sex, national origin, disability, religion, age, and genetic information. The EEOC proposal clarifies the agency's position on a wide range of topics and covers specific examples of conduct that would and would not constitute unlawful discrimination.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Employers Must Use New I-9 Form


Starting on January 22, 2017, employers must start using the new Form I-9.  This replaces the version of the I-9 Form dated 03/08/13. If employers continue to use the old form, penalties may be assessed.  The new I-9 Form is located on the U.S.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

Federal Judge Blocks Overtime Rule


What is the status of the Labor Department's overtime rule?

In May, we reported on the sweeping changes to the so-called white collar exemptions to the overtime rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for executive, professional, administrative and highly compensated employees. Now, a federal judge has blocked the Obama Administration's attempt to extend overtime pay to an estimated 4 million salaried workers.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

A Look at Age Discrimination in Silicon Valley


Is age discrimination a problem in the tech-sector?

As parts of the workforce grows older, age discrimination lawsuits are becoming increasingly common, particularly in industries in which employers tend to be younger, such as the tech sector. In fact, according to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), there have been 90 age-related lawsuits filed against a number of leading technology companies in Silicon Valley.

The wave of lawsuits has been filed against tech giants such as Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Apple, Google and Oracle, most of which claim wrongful termination, and all of these entities have denied claims of age discrimination.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

OVERTIME RULE BLOCKED


Many employers have been preparing for the United States Department of Labor’s (the “DOL”) new federal overtime rule, which was set to double the salary threshold exemption from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year effective December 1, 2016.  However, a Texas federal judgment blocked the rule on November 22, 2016 by issuing a preliminary injunction finding that the DOL exceeded its authority by raising the salary threshold too high and by providing for automatic adjustments to the threshold every three years.  As a result, the DOL is now enjoined from implementing and enforcing the rule pending further order of the courts. 

The case is


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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace


How can employers help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sexual harassment in the workplace can be detrimental to the business as a whole. Not only does it create discomfort, dissent, and often fear, among employees, but it interferes with company efficiency and can create significant legal exposure for employers. If you are an employer handling complaints of sexual harassment or simply looking to be proactive in establishing appropriate boundaries in your workplace, you should consult a talented employment lawyer experienced in such matters.


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Google Facing Age Discrimination Probe


Is age discrimination a serious problem in the tech sector?

The tech sector is known for its innovative entrepreneurs that have changed the contemporary business landscape and reshaped traditional notions of corporate culture. At the same time much of the work force is comprised of workers under 40 years of age and some observers argue that there is widespread age discrimination in the industry.

Now, a federal lawsuit has revealed that the search engine giant Google is under investigation for alleged age discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In a recent filing, a plaintiff accused Google of stonewalling the probe by the federal agency.

The plaintiff is a systems engineer who was interviewed on a number of occasions between 2007 and 2014.


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Associational Discrimination Under New York State Human Rights Law

The New York State Division of Human Rights has issued a new regulation prohibiting “discrimination against an individual because of that individual’s known relationship or association with a member or members of a protected category covered under the relevant provisions of the Human Rights Law,” otherwise known as “associational discrimination.”  This new regulation applies to all areas of the New York State Human Rights Law, including employment, public accommodations, the purchase or rental of property, access to educational institutions and credit.

The new law states that an individual can “prove a claim of discrimination based on a known relationship or association” by establishing that “they are aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice by showing they have been be subjected to an adverse action as specified in relevant provisions of the Human Rights Law because of their known relationship or association with a member or members of a protected category covered under the relevant provisions of the Human Rights Law.”  The law protects discrimination against any individual because of that person’s “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, or domestic violence victim status.”

The protection against associational discrimination comes on the heels of the New York State Division of Human Rights regulations that were recently enacted to expressly prohibit discrimination against employees based on their gender identity.


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Monday, June 27, 2016

Building a Workplace Harassment Suit against a “Perv” Architect


What behavior constitutes harassment in the workplace?

Many workers are unhappy at their jobs or complain about their slave-driver bosses or annoying supervisors. But when does behavior cross the line from disrespectful to discrimination and from inappropriate to harassment? Each case requires a subjective evaluation of the facts and evidence.

Consider the pending Manhattan Supreme Court case against Peter Marino, a leather-clad, allegedly self-proclaimed “perv” male architect boss accused of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment toward his gay male textile designer employee. The employee claims he was repeatedly subjected to taunts and unwanted offers of sex, called a “f----t”, and was flashed by the boss whose penchant for low-cut leather clothes exposed his pubic hair, butt crack, and even his genitalia. After complaining, the employee, who is still working, alleges further harassment and retaliation ensued.


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