Category Archives: Workplace Problems

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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Calling all Office Romeos…to Sexual Harassment Training

In television courtroom drama style, all over the legal news this past week we’ve seen updates from the trial in Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi (Case No. 1:13-cv-01669, S.D.N.Y), a case brought by a junior female associate against her former law firm.  In an ode to what we would like to think as “days [long] gone by,” the associate alleged that in the few months she was employed with the firm, a firm partner engaged in repeated sexual harassment of her and then sexually assaulted her at the firm holiday party.  Faruqi defended on the grounds that all sexual interaction …

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Who? Me? Individuals Not Just Companies Can Be Held Liable For Retaliation

In an issue of first impression, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held in Smith v. Bray, 681 F.3d 888 (7th Cir. May 24, 2012) that individuals with a retaliatory motive can be held liable for causing the employer to retaliate against another employee. Just after the Civil War, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which protects the right of all persons “to make and enforce contracts” regardless of race. A cause of action for retaliation under this statute exists if one person takes action against another for asserting the right to this contractual …

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