Nationwide retailer Target has announced that they will no longer ask applicants whether or not they have a criminal history as a part of their routine job application form. The company will still check criminal histories, but will wait until later in the process.
National home improvement retailer Home Depot has been accused of discriminating against gay employees during a round of layoffs that began in 2008 when the store cut staff because of the recession. In a lawsuit brought by a former employee who was fired recently claims that the store used misguided and false stereotypes to justify discriminating against gay employees, believing that they were more expensive to keep on the payroll because of their potential insurance needs and concerns about covering benefits for same-sex partners of employees.
Employees of the teen clothing store Abercrombie and Fitch and its associated brands are speaking out against the company, saying that the dress code for retail workers is too strict and that it discriminates against workers who wish to wear religious clothing.
The country's largest bank has agreed to a substantial settlement in a class action gender discrimination lawsuit. The settlement will distribute $39 million to women who worked for Merrill Lynch or Bank of America during a specific period of time.
A recent poll that surveyed both men and women about gender discrimination in the workplace found that many people recognize this as an ongoing problem. In fact, 30 percent of women say that they have experienced discrimination at work.
Maryland recently changed its laws regarding employer obligations to pregnant workers. The law is the Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy Act, and it will go into effect on October 1.
Back in December in this Greenbelt Employment Law Blog, we discussed a very important case that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review. The case centered on the question of who can be labeled as a supervisor in discrimination and harassment lawsuits. The question is a very important one because whether or not the harasser was a supervisor may determine if an employer is liable for the unlawful actions.
Back in April, we discussed the employment law dispute of a former UPS employee here in Maryland. The woman was put on unpaid leave about six years ago due to her pregnancy. This caused her to lose her health insurance, and because she had not actually been fired she was not able to qualify for unemployment benefits. She sued UPS for pregnancy discrimination, and so far she has been losing her case.
Anyone who has been pregnant knows that pregnancy can be debilitating at times. Even in the healthiest and least complicated of pregnancies, women can be brought down by nausea and have to stop doing routine tasks at home and work due to doctors' orders to stop lifting. For many women, these are only minor inconveniences because they will pass and there are people to help out in the meantime. For other women, such side effects of pregnancy may lead to a job loss.
Under both Maryland law and federal employment law, pregnancy discrimination is illegal. While these anti-discrimination laws are very clear, a gray area has recently emerged. Several Christian employers have recently been accused of firing unwed pregnant women from their staffs. The firings are blamed on a breach of contract--these employees had signed contracts that stated they would abide by Christian values, including abstaining from premarital sex.