Category Archives: Employment Discrimination

NLRB Rules on Google’s Firing of Outspoken Engineer

A recently released NLRB memo has concluded that Google did not break any labor laws when they fired James Damore.  Damore, a senior software engineer, was fired in August after writing and circulating an internal memo that disclosed Google’s diversity initiatives.  His memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” alleged that women are underrepresented in technology because of innate, biological differences such as being prone to anxiety, having lower stress tolerances and looking for more work-life balance.

Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Takes Effect April 1, 2018

Pregnant workers in Massachusetts will soon benefit from broader protection against discrimination under the recently enacted Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“MPWFA”).  This new law, which applies to all employers with six or more employees, updates and expands upon existing state anti-discrimination statutes and makes it an unlawful practice to discriminate against a pregnant employee or an employee affected by a condition related to pregnancy.  The most notable change is that employers will now be required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and related conditions, including lactation and the need to express breast milk, unless the employer can prove that …

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California Implements Statewide “Ban the Box” Law Effective January 1, 2018

  California has become the tenth state to pass the “ban-the-box” law which removes the conviction history question on job applications for private employers with five or more employees.   Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont have already passed ban-the-box laws statewide. Assembly Bill 1008 signed by Governor Jerry Brown will become effective January 1, 2018.  AB 1008 adds a section to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which prohibits an employer from engaging in various defined forms of discriminatory employment practices. Employment Application.  AB 1008 makes it an unlawful employment practice under …

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National Origin Discrimination: California to up the Ante

Remember the travel ban? The Wall? Ramped up deportations? California is moving to counter and guard against potential negative employment consequences for foreign-born workers and more.  The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the agency charged with enforcing the state’s civil rights laws, is considering new regulations to implement or enhance California’s national-original discrimination statute. The current statute, Government Code §12940, identifies national origin as a prohibited basis for discrimination, but doesn’t provide details. The DFEH is empowered to promulgate regulations interpreting and implementing this statute and others. Cal. Gov’t Code §12935(a). So what enhancements are contained in …

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Is Gender Identity a Protected Class?

The Obama era Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) would have said, “YES.”  Yesterday, the Trump Administration’s DOJ answered that question with a “NO,” reversing the federal government’s stance regarding whether gender identity is a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Attorney General Jeff Sessions communicated in a letter to all U.S. Attorneys on October 4, 2017 that Title VII does not cover bias based on transgender status.  The letter reverses a position taken by former Attorney General Eric Holder in December 2014.  Attorney General Sessions wrote, “This …

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One Racial Slur is One Too Many, Rules Third Circuit

Is a single racial slur by an employee’s supervisor enough to create a hostile work environment under § 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866?  The answer is yes according to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in Castleberry v. STI Group, No. 16-3131 (3d Cir. July 14, 2017). In Castleberry, two African American males were employed as general laborers.  They claimed that while working on a fence-removal project, their supervisor threatened to fire them if they “n[****]r-rigged” the fence.  The incident was confirmed by their coworkers and reported thereafter by the employees to a superior.  Two weeks …

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Mixed Messages on LGBT Protections

NYC Guidelines Strengthen Transgender Protections in Employment; NC Law Eliminates Local LGBT Protections Altogether.  Confused, Anyone? I don’t envy employers these days. It ain’t easy staying on top of all of the federal, state, and local employment laws and regulations out there at the moment. And if you’re an employer with employees in multiple states across our great country, forget about it. (On second thought, don’t forget about it, just delegate figuring that mess out to your favorite employment lawyer.) Case-in-point, the many and varied laws out there regarding the protections afforded LGBT employees.

I Resolve . . . Not to Get Sued for Religious Discrimination and Harassment

As we close the books on 2015, fueled in no small part by the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the immigration crisis in Europe, our own crazy election-cycle politics, etc., etc., there is a palpable anti-Muslim rhetoric that’s plowing its way through social media and, quite possibly, making its way right to your company water cooler. And, as if we needed more fuel for the fire, religious awareness (and sometimes, real or perceived religious intolerance) is heightened during the holiday season. It’s an employer’s perfect [snow]storm. As put mildly by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), terrorist …

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It Ain’t Over…Managing Weighty Workers Before They Manage You

Because this is exactly what you want to hear after you’ve gorged yourself on turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie over the last several days . . . Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control issued a report confirming what we already know: Americans are getting bigger, but not necessarily better. Bigger, as in, time to cut out the butter. According to the CDC’s report, nearly 38% of Americans are considered obese (defined as anyone with a BMI ≥ 30). Add to that the American Medical Association’s recognition in 2013 of obesity as a disease and you are talking about …

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