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Employment Law Blog

Can A Paid Parental Leave Policy Discriminate Against Fathers?

Yes, and that would be illegal. While discrimination against women is more common, our country's anti-discrimination laws are gender-neutral. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it's illegal for employers to discriminate "because of sex," and that includes discrimination in any aspect of employment affecting either men or women.

Recently, banking giant JPMorgan Chase settled a class action over its paid parental leave policy, which the plaintiffs alleged discriminated against fathers.

What Can Employers Do To Reduce The Chance Of Workplace Violence?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 2 million U.S. workers each year are victims of workplace violence. While no one can predict or prevent every incident, employers do have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep their workers safe from workplace violence.

While a violent incident could occur in any workplace, there are situations that put workers at greater risk:

  • Exchanging money with the general public
  • Delivering passengers, goods or services
  • Working alone or in small groups
  • Working at night or in the early morning hours
  • Working in high-crime areas
  • Working in private homes or community settings with extensive public contact

#MeToo Effect: Misconduct Now The Top Reason For CEO Departures

When credible allegations of sexual harassment or other misconduct are made against a top executive, companies need to take them seriously. If someone files a lawsuit, one thing the courts will consider is whether the company made a reasonable effort to investigate and correct the problem. If it did not, the company could be found liable and be forced to pay damages. It could also be a PR nightmare.

With the rise of the #MeToo movement, companies across America are taking that threat seriously. According to a new study from the consulting division of auditing giant PwC, even the reasons for CEO departures have shifted.

Women In Commercial Fishing Take Sexual Harassment Into Own Hands

The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights says that it doesn't receive more complaints about sexual misconduct in commercial fishing than in other industries. However, women who work in the industry suspect the problem is all too common in the male-dominated field. One woman has taken the problem into her own hands.

Elma Burnham, who fishes herself, started a grass-roots organization called Strength of the Tides. Basically, she asks commercial fishermen, captains and other stakeholders to pledge zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault in the industry.

Muslim Workers File Religious Discrimination Claims Against Amazon

Is Amazon systemically violating the rights of Muslim workers? Three Somali women who work at an Amazon fulfillment center think so. They have filed an EEOC complaint accusing the company of creating a hostile work environment for Muslims and for retaliating when they protested.

For over a year, a nonprofit called the Atwood Center, which receives part of its funding from the Service Employees International Union, has been working to organize East African natives with jobs at Amazon's center near Minneapolis. The main concerns include the pace of the work, lack of accommodation for daily prayers and a sense that there is little chance for advancement.

US Labor Department Issues Guidance Supporting Gig Economy Model

Companies like Lyft, Uber and the like have been using a new model for delivering their services to customers. Instead of hiring employees, they rely on contract workers -- even for their core business. This is often called the "gig economy" model.

Since contractors aren't entitled to many job-based benefits, this model is much less expensive than the traditional employment model. Not only are contractors not eligible for work-based health insurance and retirement accounts, but they are also ineligible for a variety of important safety-net benefits that many people may assume everyone receives:

  • The minimum wage and overtime pay
  • Workers' compensation insurance
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Employer's share of Social Security taxes
  • Reimbursement for business expenses
  • Tax withholding

Supreme Court Asked To Hear If The ADEA Protects Job Applicants

Earlier this year, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does not prohibit discrimination against older job seekers -- only existing employees. Although the Seventh Circuit only covers Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, the ruling is final in those states unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns it. Now, the AARP Foundation has asked the high court for a hearing on the matter.

"The 7th Circuit's decision is devastating to older job seekers," said a spokesman for the AARP Foundation. "It misreads the letter of the law and seriously undercuts its main purpose: to ensure that older, unemployed job applicants are treated fairly."

Supreme Court: What Does Discrimination 'Because Of Sex' Include?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases about whether our nation's main civil rights law bars discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination "because of sex," as well as race, color, national origin and religion.

The federal circuits have split over whether the phrase "because of sex" includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The Second and Sixth Circuits considered the phrase to encompass all aspects of a person's gender, including nonconformity with gender norms. As a result, they ruled, respectively, that homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably related to the overall concept of sex and thus are protected by Title VII.

Vice Agrees To Settle Claim Of Systemic Gender Pay Discrimination

Canada-based Vice Media has agreed to settle claims brought by current and former employees that the company systemically underpaid female employees. Vice will pay $1.875 million to settle the class action.

According to reports, a former channel and project manager brought an initial claim in the suit against Vice. In 2015, she says she hired a male project manager for a joint project. She subsequently learned that this male subordinate was making about $25,000 more per year than she was.

DOL: Employees Can't Use Up Paid Time Off Before Using FMLA Leave

The U.S. Department of Labor recently took a new position on the timing of leave taken under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Many employers allow or even require workers to use up their sick time and other paid time off before initiating an FMLA leave. In a March 14 opinion letter, the DOL said that practice is improper. FMLA leave must begin to run within five days of the employer learning that leave is being taken for reasons covered by the FMLA.

The federal FMLA guarantees all covered employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave annually for certain family and medical purposes. Group health insurance is to be maintained during the leave period.

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