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Employment Law Blog

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.

Ex-Employees File Suit Against IBM Over Age Discrimination

Ever since the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica did an exposé last year, former IBM employees have wondered whether the company's recent global restructuring and layoffs were motivated in part by age discrimination. Now, a group of ex-workers has filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to break down two barriers IBM put in the way of age discrimination claims.

As we discussed last year, ProPublica learned that IBM had cut 20,000 U.S. workers over the age of 40 in the previous five years. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination against people 40 and over.

Maryland is now the sixth state to approve $15-an-hour

It took less than 24 hours for Maryland's General Assembly to override Governor Larry Hogan's veto of the state's new minimum-wage law.

For many lawmakers, the override was seen as a forgone conclusion, as reflected by the final vote tally. In fact, the override vote in the House of Delegates was 96-43, and 32-15 in the Senate. To put these number in perspective, it takes just 85 votes to override a veto in the House and 29 in the Senate.

Following this veto override, Maryland becomes the sixth state in the country to enact a $15-per-hour minimum wage -- although it will be implemented gradually over the next several years. 

EEOC Asks For Industry Perspective On Ending Workplace Harassment

"When you get cultural change on civil rights, it happens because industry leaders do the right thing," said the commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently.

The agency brought a dozen or more business leaders to its headquarters on March 20 for a round table discussion about curbing workplace harassment. The leaders came from a broad array of industries, ranging from retail and hospitality to education, human resources and the law. Participants included representatives from the Society for Human Resource Management and the American Bar Association, along with trade groups like the American Staffing Association.

Large Employers To Begin Reporting Fair Pay Data As Soon As May

Employers with more than 100 employees will soon be required to submit detailed reports on how their workers are paid, broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission passed a rule requiring the reports in 2016, but the rule was halted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, a judge has ordered the rule to move forward. What remains unclear is whether companies will have to begin submitting the reports by the original deadline of May 31.

The government already require some wage information with demographic data each year. For example, the SEC requires public companies to post a comparison between their CEO's total compensation and the median pay of employees. The EEOC currently requires a summary of pay and demographic information.

Tale as Old as Time: #MeToo #Vashti

Purim.jpgThe Me Too Movement takes its name from the phrase created a decade ago by civil rights activist Tarana Burke and popularized by Alyssa Milano when she encouraged women to tweet it to "give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem." Since October 2017, #MeToo has been posted millions of times online, often with accompanying accounts of sexual harassment or sexual assault many of which occur in the workplace. The magnitude of the problem is, without question, huge.

Women's National Soccer Team Sues For Gender, Pay Discrimination

The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team holds three Women's World Cup trophies and four Olympic gold medals, among a number of other achievements. The team has been ranked No. 1 of No. 2 for most of the 2000s and 2010s and is currently ranked No. 1. It entered the qualifying competition for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup upon a 21-game win streak and dominated the competition, ultimately qualifying.

The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team failed to even qualify for the 2018 men's World Cup and has never won a World Cup title.

Facing Criticism, Walmart Will Offer Disabled Greeters New Jobs

Walmart announced recently that it plans to eliminate the position of store greeter at all U.S. stores, effective in late April. The news came as a shock to many Walmart greeters, especially those with disabilities. In the past, Walmart had been praised for providing viable jobs for people with a variety of disabilities, offering them the chance to represent the company when customers enter the store.

The announcement that greeters are being phased out created a sharp backlash from both customers and the disability community. Now, the CEO of Walmart's U.S. stores says that greeters with disabilities will not only be given an opportunity to apply for other positions but that they will also be given extra time to do so. Several greeters have already been offered new positions at their stores.

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