Archives: Harassment

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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

Can “Child’s Pose” Relieve Bikram Yoga Guru’s Stress After His January 25 California Court Double-Whammy?

I first encountered Bikram Choudhury 10 years ago (okay more like 15, but who’s counting) at his Bikram Yoga College on La Cienega Blvd. in L.A. when trying out his quintessential hot yoga class. He was memorable, parading around in Speedo-like short-shorts on a small stage in front of the class, shouting yoga commands. Given … Continue Reading

Doing the Lambeth Talk – Mr Livingstone, I presume

An interesting new defence to discriminatory harassment claims has been trialled this month by none other than former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone. Our Ken was recently appointed to a senior role in Labour’s Defence Review. Objections were heard from a number of quarters including Shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones on the seemingly not unreasonable grounds … Continue Reading

“It was great” and other things not to say in support of your harassment claim

Mbuyi –v- Newpark Childcare is an everyday tale of Christianity meeting homosexuality and sparks ensuing, not in a good way.  Put very simply (there was a little more to it, including the glorious non-sequitur “X had replied with a positive comment, given that the Claimant is from Belgium”), a lesbian employee asked an Evangelical Christian … Continue Reading

Scrutinizing Sex Harassment Claims in the Workplace: The Importance of Getting the Investigation Right

For many employers, receiving a complaint of sex harassment (or any other form of harassment or discrimination based on a legally protected category) triggers an audible groan and a begrudging acceptance of the requirement to conduct a workplace investigation.  And given the ever greater demands on the time of the HR and Legal teams that … Continue Reading

Offensive tattoos in the UK workplace? Come on, be reasonable

I am quite confident that a great many of us have considered the possibility of getting a tattoo.  It may have been during the heady days of youth and only a fleeting fantasy, but a consideration nonetheless.  I will freely admit toying with the idea right up to the moment I realised that ‘inking’ myself … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules EEOC Conciliation Efforts Are Subject to Oversight

On April 29, the US Supreme Court held unanimously that courts may review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) efforts to informally resolve disputes between employers and employees. The EEOC, which is charged with policing compliance with employment discrimination laws, is required by statute to first try informal mediation methods to resolve disputes between employers … Continue Reading

Yes, but what if they stay? – the aftermath of covertly recording your colleagues

Some thorny issues for employers arise from the reported settlement last week of a sexual discrimination and harassment claim brought against Goldman Sachs by Sonia Pereiro-Mendez. This case hit the news not because of the nature of her allegations (big City house treats pregnant woman as suddenly of much less value – all relatively usual … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit clarifies: Demanding a supervisor cease harassment is a protected activity

On April 22, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that clarifies that, for purposes of Title VII retaliation cases, an employee’s demand that a supervisor stop his or her harassing conduct constitutes protected activity under the statute. Affirming the findings of several district courts in the circuit, the appeals court held that … Continue Reading

Australian employee pays high price for revenge porn in the workplace

Taking a stand against jilted ex-lovers, Western Australia has joined the UK and USA to fight the war on ‘revenge porn’. Revenge porn occurs when the (either actually or imminently) ex-partner posts nude or intimate pictures or videos online without consent. In the absence of appropriate laws, perpetrators have often escaped liability. In response, countries … Continue Reading

Utah Passes Law Prohibiting LGBT Employment Discrimination

On March 12, Utah Governor Herbert signed into law S.B. 296, which amends the Utah Antidiscrimination Act to prohibit discrimination in employment by Utah employers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Notably, and perhaps not surprisingly given that 60% of Utah residents identify as Mormons, although the law had the support of … Continue Reading

Fishy goings-on at the aquarium – Japanese Court Upholds Penalties for Sexual Harassment

Last Thursday, the Japanese Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Osaka Aquarium sexual harassment case. The ruling made news across Japan and is particularly noteworthy on two points: that it upheld a relatively severe punishment (suspension and demotion) without a formal warning process in advance, and that it recognized purely verbal sexual harassment as … Continue Reading

EEOC Internal Memo Reveals LGBT Discrimination Remains Enforcement Priority

On February 3, 2015, the EEOC’s Director of the Office of Field Programs issued a memorandum to the agency’s district directors regarding the handling of LGBT-related discrimination claims. Although Title VII does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of an employee’s identification as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, the memorandum states that the EEOC … Continue Reading

Single breast grope not sackable offence, says European court

Right, that should be enough to scupper UKIP’s chances of bringing the UK out of Europe, so now onto the actual facts. The German Labour Court in Erfurt last week ordered the reinstatement of a garage mechanic dismissed for fondling the cleaner’s breasts. Cut and dried dismissal material, one might think, especially accompanied by his … Continue Reading
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