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Maryland Employment Blog

TITLE VII: "Take Five"

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FIVE SIMPLE STEPS FOR EMPLOYERS

Harvey Weinstein is starring in a horror flick that he produced. Response to a New York Times article regarding Weinstein has been fast and furious. On October 5, 2017, The Times published an article about Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment. Allegations spanning decades ranged from unwanted sexual advances to sexual assaults. 

Are medical providers targets for EEOC discrimination claims?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal discrimination laws.The laws apply to any employers with at least 15 employees. Before an individual may bring a discrimination suit against their employer, they are required to file an EEOC complaint.

Each year the EEOC handles roughly 95,000 charges each year. 30 percent of those claims are for disability discrimination. The vast majority of entities defending themselves against these claims are healthcare companies and medical providers. Despite there being no evidence to support a discrimination problem with these employers, entities such as nursing homes, hospitals, managed care providers, etc. are more likely to find themselves facing a disability discrimination claim.

When FMLA Expires, Must an Employer Grant Additional Leave Under the ADA?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a resounding "no" upholding a decision in favor of an employer. The employer denied an employee's request for an additional 2-3 months off when his FMLA expired. The Seventh Circuit's decision went so far as to stress that the "ADA is an antidiscrimination statute, not a medical-leave entitlement." (Emphasis added.)

How far do speech protections extend into the workplace?

Last month, a memo from a frustrated Google employee disparaging the company’s diversity initiative caused an Internet frenzy. In the memo, which drew the ire of many, the employee, a software engineer named James Damore, claimed that biological and psychological differences between men and women accounted for the underepresentation of women in the tech roles such as software engineering.

Damore was subsequently fired by Google on August 7th for violating their code of conduct and advancing harmful gender stereotypes. He filed a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint against Google the same day, alleging the company was retaliating against him for engaging in protected speech.

Overtime for Out-of-Office Emails?

Chicago police officers sued in Federal Court requesting unpaid overtime for off-duty work done on their BlackBerry phones.  In a recent Opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that while the BlackBerry work would have been compensable overtime, the Cops' claims failed because the City of Chicago had no knowledge of the unreported hours. 

Are Emotional Distress Damages Available in Retaliation Cases?

Another federal appeals court has held that employees who have faced illegal retaliation at work are eligible to recover damages for emotional distress under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). The FLSA governs wage and hour laws, such as overtime and minimum wage, for businesses across the United States. This holding could have significant implications for employers throughout the country.

Employees who bring claims against their employers under the FLSA, or employees who cooperate in an FLSA investigation, have the right to be free from retaliation. Retaliatory acts could include termination, demotion, harassment or other adverse actions.

New Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide

The Virginia Office of Attorney General released a new resource to assist our nations' servicemembers and military families. The Resources can be accessed here, and includes sections covering servicemembers and veterans rights with regard to employment, education, taxes, consumer issues, and family law.

DOJ Says Federal Law Does Not Ban Sexual Orientation Discrimination

On July 26, 2017, the Department of Justice filed an Amicus Brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit taking the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the primary government agency that enforces Title VII, takes the opposite position that discrimination based on sexual orientation is covered under the federal law.

Providing proper training for supervisors

Establishing an effective workplace and strong culture starts at the top for any company. When managers and supervisors model correct behavior, it sets the tone for others to follow. As a result, companies can realize tangible benefits by properly training their managers and supervisors. Proper training of supervisors will include:

Establishing the importance of documentation

Documenting issues with individual contributors as they arise is critical, both in helping to correct the underlying behavior, and for record-keeping purposes should these issues give rise to future litigation. Supervisors need to learn how to adequately document performance issues and create strong, accurate records to be used in performance evaluations. By doing so, a company can put itself in the best possible position to deal with employee-related issues.

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