Archives: Harassment

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New York Releases Package of Draft Model Policies for Employers and State Contractors in Response to Sexual Harassment Law Adopted in April 2018

On August 23, 2018, the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) released written guidance addressing new requirements under New York State law that are designed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.  The material outlines proposed minimum standards, training requirements and other compliance materials for the new state law.  This release comes as the … Continue Reading

California Legislature Passes Bill Prohibiting Arbitration Agreements and Non-Disclosure Agreements Regarding California Employment Law Claims

On August 22, 2018, the California State Senate passed AB 3080, which, if signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, would invalidate two types of commonly-used employment contracts that have been the subject of significant dialogue in the vast wake of the #metoo movement. First, the bill proposes to prohibit employers from requiring employees to … Continue Reading

State Law Round-Up: New Sick Leave, Sexual Harassment Laws and Other State Law Developments (MA, MD, MN, NJ, NYC, TX, VT)

Massachusetts Imposes One-Year Cap and Other Restrictions On Non-Compete Agreements The Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (see link, at Section 24L) (“MNAA”) effective October 1, 2018, places new restrictions on the length and applicability of non-compete agreements between employers and employees who work within the state of Massachusetts. (Note that the law defines employees to include … Continue Reading

California’s New Candor: Disclosing Rehiring Ineligibility for Employees Terminated for Harassment

Your company did the right thing: One of your employees reported a violation of your company’s sexual harassment policy, HR did an investigation and found the report credible, and the alleged harasser’s employment was terminated.  The employee is gone, but what do you do if the terminated employee’s potential new employer calls for a reference … Continue Reading

New York Mandates Sexual-Harassment Prevention Requirements for Private Employers (US)

This month both the State of New York and New York City have passed separate legislation designed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Both laws require employers to conduct mandatory sexual harassment training for all employees. On April 10, 2018, Governor Cuomo signed the Budget Bill, which contains a mandate for employers in the … Continue Reading

Title VII Bars Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Says Second Circuit Court of Appeals (US)

Last spring, we reported that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which hears appeals from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin federal trial courts) had become the first federal appellate court to conclude that Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition also precludes discrimination based on sexual orientation. On February 26, 2018, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling … Continue Reading

U.S. EEOC Announces Four-Year Strategic Plan

On February 12, 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for FY2018 – FY2022 (SEP).   Congress requires federal administrative agencies such as the EEOC to develop strategic plans every four years and publish their plans on their website.  The EEOC’s plan serves as a framework for the agency in … Continue Reading

All the rage – should confidentiality agreements in harassment cases be allowed?

News out this week that a committee of MPs is to look into workplace harassment, and in particular the use of confidentiality wording in settlement agreements arising from harassment allegations. Critics allege, says the BBC New Online, that such clauses are “abused by employers and legal experts to cover up wrongdoing” and used to “buy … Continue Reading

Holiday Party Tips to Ensure Too Much Cheer Does Not Turn Into a New Year’s Liability (US)

With the holiday season upon us, now is the time to assess your company’s upcoming holiday party, with the biggest concern being employee alcohol consumption. While there is no way to completely insulate your company from liability arising out of employer-sponsored holiday parties, other than a decision not to hold a holiday party all together … Continue Reading

Sexual Harassment Claims Put Non-Disclosure and Arbitration Agreements Under Scrutiny, Resulting in a Flurry of Legislative Action

In the current climate where sexual assault and harassment allegations against Hollywood elite, Congressmen and news anchors have triggered a wave of “me too” allegations, several tools commonly used by employers to shield themselves from liability have come under attack, including non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and arbitration agreements. Many employers require employees to sign NDAs as … Continue Reading

The proper response to claims of historic sexual harassment by employees

Another day, another sex scandal. A Martian reviewing the Evening Standard could reasonably conclude that this is an issue limited to film, media and politics but there would undoubtedly be those in many less glamorous workplaces who also have stories to tell and hopefully feel empowered to do so by the flood of others coming … Continue Reading

Getting handsy in Hollywood, the fall of the stars – lessons nearer home

The limelight on Hollywood has turned fifty shades darker recently with more high- profile celebrities being called out on allegations of historic inappropriate behaviour. The news of late has been littered with claim after claim of sexual harassment by celebrities against their peers in years gone by but don’t be fooled into thinking it is … Continue Reading

Managing Political Speech In The Workplace

In the current political environment, employers and employees alike may be wondering – what, if any, political conversation in the workplace is acceptable or appropriate?  Tones of “freedom of speech,” “freedom of association,” on one hand, intersect with tenors of “workplace harassment” or simple annoyance, on the other.  Although like the political debates themselves, the … Continue Reading

One Racial Slur May Be Sufficient To Create a Hostile Work Environment, Says Second Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held last week that a single racial slur might provide sufficient basis for a hostile work environment claim.  In the case, Daniel v. T&M Protection Resources, LLC,  Plaintiff Daniel, a black, gay man from the Caribbean, alleged he was harassed at work on the basis … Continue Reading

U.S. Appellate Court Declares That Title VII Prohibits Employment Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation

On April 4, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit became the first federal appellate court to hold that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a prohibited form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).  And it did so in no … Continue Reading

EEOC Pilots New Online Inquiry and Intake Program in Five Major US Cities

On March 13, 2017, the EEOC launched a new Online Inquiry and Intake System, making it easier for employees to seek assistance from the agency regarding claims of workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The new system is available to individuals who live within one hundred miles of the EEOC’s offices in Charlotte, Chicago, New Orleans, … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Long-Awaited Retaliation Guidance

On August 29, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final “Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues,” which replaced the Agency’s nearly-20-year-old 1998 Compliance Manual, Section 8: Retaliation.  As the title clearly implies, the guidance primarily sets forth the Agency’s evolving interpretations of the law of retaliation.  It also focuses on the … Continue Reading

New TUC report on sexual harassment in the workplace lacks vital statistics

It is sadly impossible to write anything critical about a report on sexual harassment in the workplace without coming over like some frightful old golf club misogynist. To be clear, therefore, none of what follows seeks to belittle the distress of those genuinely harassed at work, but balance nonetheless dictates a counter-point to the TUC’s … Continue Reading

Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation (Prevention), Oh My! FEHA Expansion Effective April 1

I recently read that April 1 is the only day of the year where people stop and actually consider what they see online with real scrutiny. Well, this is no April Fool’s joke:  the Fair Employment and Housing Council has established new regulations [pdf] effective April 1, 2016. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) creates … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit to Employers: Failure to Timely and Thoroughly Investigate Sexual Harassment Claims May Cost You

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reminded us last Wednesday that claims of sexual harassment and hostile work environment are not just limited to victims of the opposite sex. The Sixth Circuit decision in Smith v. Rock-Tenn Services, Inc. upheld a Tennessee District Court’s award of $300,000 to an employee against his former employer after … Continue Reading
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