When an employee makes a complaint about a co-worker or supervisor, it's crucial to get to the truth. After all, employers must take reasonable steps to protect employees from discrimination and harassment, which are among the most common complaints. At the same time, both the accused and the accuser have reputations and careers to protect. Ideally, the employer is a neutral arbiter on the issue.
According to a recent survey by the staffing firm OfficeTeam, 14 percent of American workers have experienced a demotion -- asked to assume a lower-level role with or without a pay cut. Slightly more than half (52 percent) of demoted employees will choose to leave the company, and there is the risk of disgruntlement and potential lawsuits.
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently proposed a change to how it rewards private citizens who blow the whistle on securities violations under the Dodd-Frank Act. Under the proposal, the commission would have the discretion to increase some whistleblower awards beyond the 30-percent statutory maximum, up to $2 million. It would pay for this by discretionarily reducing some of the larger awards.
The prestigious Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) recently published an exposé on how women are treated in the field of photojournalism, and the results are stark. Women across the industry said that sexual harassment and misconduct are routine and broadly tolerated by those in power. At least two well-known male photographers are also well-known serial harassers, for example, and their company has long stonewalled complaints.
The New York Times has published a prominent report on pregnancy discrimination in America's workforce. Reporters interviewed dozens of women who claim to have suffered pregnancy discrimination, along with their lawyers and a number of government officials. They also reviewed thousands of pages of public records and court documents. They identified a clear pattern of systemic discrimination at many of our nation's biggest and most prestigious companies.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and subsequent explosion of media coverage on sexual harassment in various workplaces, Maryland's legislature has chosen to respond with new legislation. Effective October 1, 2018, the state's new sexual harassment law precludes employers from limiting any procedural or substantive rights of employees to file claims for sexual harassment or retaliation for reporting harassment in the workplace.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 workweeks' worth of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for specific reasons. The leave can be taken as a single block or intermittently for shorter periods. It's illegal for employers to interfere with, restrain or deny employees' lawful FMLA leave -- or to retaliate against employees who take it.
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.
For months now, anyone driving by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) headquarters in Arlington may have seen a woman in business attire marching around the building holding up a sign and passing out flyers.