Harassment

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EAT reinforces protection of employee beliefs in Biblical pronouns row (UK)

As a break from workplace investigations and before Covid’s threatened resurgence as an issue for employers, how about this new slice of “gay cake” case law around what should and should not happen when your religious beliefs clash with the requirements of your job? In Mackereth –v- DWP & Another this week, the claimant was … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Reminder That Caregiver Duties Continue Even As COVID Surge Wanes (US)

On March 14, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a new technical assistance document, “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Caregiver Discrimination Under Federal Employment Discrimination Law,” reminding employers that caregiver obligations continue notwithstanding our gradual return to normal. The 10-page document warns that, even as pandemic conditions change, many employers, schools, and daycare … Continue Reading

President Biden Signs Into Law Ban on Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims (US)

On February 11, 2022, we reported on Congress’ enactment of legislation barring the use of mandatory arbitration provisions in cases of sexual assault or sexual harassment. On March 3, 2022, President Biden signed the bill into law, as expected, making it illegal to compel an employee to arbitrate a claim of sexual assault or sexual … Continue Reading

Congress Bars Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims (US)

On February 7, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, and on February 10, the U.S. Senate approved, a bill (the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (Act)) that would amend the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) so as to invalidate clauses in employment agreements requiring employees to arbitrate claims of sexual … Continue Reading

Grievances and punishment – Is it enough to succeed, or must others fail? (UK)

If you look for the statutory source of the ordinary right to bring a workplace grievance, you may be gone some time.  It arose initially as a by-product of the implied duty of trust and confidence, and formally bubbled to the surface in WA Gould (Pearmak) Limited – v – McConnell in 1995.  There the … Continue Reading

Unconvincing lack of detail in UK government’s response to harassment consultation

Sexual harassment is absolutely no laughing matter, but it is difficult to suppress a tired smile when reading the government’s Response to its 2019 consultation on harassment in the workplace.  This is very heavy on prospective voter-appeal but rather lighter (weightless, basically) on the practicalities. We shall impose a proactive duty on employers to prevent … Continue Reading

Biden Administration Nixes Trump-Era EEOC Pre-Suit Conciliation Rule (US)

Late last year, we reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had released a proposed rule modifying the mandatory conciliation process the EEOC must follow before it can file a lawsuit in its own name against an employer. Under long-standing anti-discrimination statutes, before the EEOC can commence litigation against an employer for employment discrimination … Continue Reading

Sexual harassment reforms fast approaching in response to Respect@Work (Australia)

In the wake of a spate of high profile sexual assault and harassment allegations in recent weeks, the federal government has announced it will implement a suite of anti-harassment reforms in response to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s landmark Respect@Work national inquiry report, which was released in March 2020. The Respect@Work inquiry found that Australia’s current … Continue Reading

EAT refuses to swallow stale discrimination training – keeping up the statutory defence (UK)

As a rule, an employer will be liable for the discriminatory acts of its employees towards each other unless it has taken all reasonable steps to prevent them doing that sort of thing (section 109(4) Equality Act, often known as the “statutory defence”). Allay (UK) Limited –v- Gehlen is one of really not very many … Continue Reading

State Law Round-Up: Year End Edition – PART TWO (Illinois – Washington, D.C.) (US)

In Part One of our year-end State Law Roundup, we covered national minimum wage developments and developments in states at the beginning of the alphabet: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, and Hawaii.  In Part Two below, we look at developments in the rest of the states (and localities), from Illinois to Washington D.C. Illinois: Illinois employers … Continue Reading

State Law Round-Up: Year End Edition – PART ONE (California – Hawaii) (US)

As we (thankfully) reach the end of 2020, we wanted to provide a year-end update on recent and upcoming state law developments.  Despite the fact that state and local governments had their hands full with the COVID-19 pandemic (and passed many laws relating to that topic, which we will not cover here), they managed to … Continue Reading

EEOC Announces Intent to Provide Official Agency Interpretations of Federal Employment Discrimination Laws In Response to Public Requests (US)

Except for a brief hiatus between 2010 and 2017 (see here), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has for decades issued formal opinion letters in response to requests from employers, employees, and others for the DOL’s official interpretation of novel or complex issues relating to the application of the minimum wage and overtime compensation provisions … Continue Reading

A Timely Redux: Walking The Tightrope: Dealing With Employees’ Different Viewpoints On COVID-19, Racial Justice, and Partisan Politics (US)

In June 2020, we added a post to Employment Law Worldview addressing the complicated situation employers are in when employees express – sometime respectfully, sometimes not – different, and indeed, opposite views on COVID-19 issues (e.g., legitimate public health emergency versus hoax or “plandemic”), racial justice (“Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter”), and politics … Continue Reading

NLRB Provides Much-Needed Reality Check, Lowers Barrier To Employers’ Ability To Discipline And Discharge Employees Who Engage In Arguably Protected, But Plainly Disruptive, Workplace Conduct (US)

An employee confronts you – a small business owner – and calls you a “f***ng mother f***cker,” a “f***ing crook,” an “a**hole,” and “stupid,” tells you that none of your employees like you and everyone talks about you behind your back, and warns you that you’ll regret firing him, if you do. Or you’re a … Continue Reading

Black Lives Matter, Racial Unrest and Corporate Culture – How Do Employers Respond? (US)

As the daily news continues to show protests and calls for justice in response to the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police officers, there is, unsurprisingly, a desire from employees to hear from their employers regarding the ongoing violence and racial unrest in our communities and across the country. Many … Continue Reading

Walking The Tightrope: Dealing With Employees’ Different Viewpoints On COVID-19, Racial Justice, and Partisan Politics (US)

We’re living through a period of time in the US unlike any we have previously experienced,  simultaneously grappling with a deadly public health emergency, mass protests – some peaceful, some not – seeking racial justice and police reform, and an increasingly bitter, partisan political landscape that likely only will intensify as we get closer to … Continue Reading

The Customer May Not Always Be Right When It Comes To Sexual Harassment (US)

We all know that employers have a legal obligation under federal law, as well as under various state and local laws, to provide their employees with a safe work environment free from sexual harassment, and that under certain circumstances, an employer can be held legally responsible for harassment directed at its employees. However, do companies … Continue Reading

Wardrobe Malfunctions, Zoombombing, and Other Torrid Tales from the Home Front (US)

With more of us working from home than ever during the COVID-19 public health crisis, employers and employees face unique challenges. Videoconferences have replaced in-person meetings, and our pets, kids, and partners are now our temporary “coworkers.” From the occasional mild annoyances, like barking dogs and ringing doorbells, to the truly humiliating examples trending on … Continue Reading

Employer’s Guide to Return-to-Work Issues: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (US)

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency has changed life as we know it, including by severely disrupting business on a nationwide scale.  In some cases, employers have been forced to temporarily close their doors and cease operations, while others have had to make radical changes to the workplace in order to maintain operations. … Continue Reading

EEOC Offers Employers Post-COVID-19 Return-to-Work Pointers (US)

Since early in the pandemic, the EEOC has been maintaining a Technical Assistance Questions and Answers page, which it updates from time to time. As employers’ attention turns to life after COVID-19 and planning for our return to the workplace, on April 17, the EEOC updated its COVID-19 pandemic informal guidance to address the challenges … Continue Reading

UK Equality Commission issues new sexual harassment guidance

Earlier this month, the Equality and Human Rights Commission issued new guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work. The guidance is very comprehensive, running to some 82 pages, but if you are responsible for drafting your company’s harassment policies or for handling such complaints in the workplace, you should still take a look at … Continue Reading

NLRB Must Consider An Employer’s Obligation To Maintain A Harassment-Free Workplace When Evaluating An Employee’s Allegedly Protected Conduct (US)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently refused to enforce a decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that involved a conflict between an employer’s obligation to maintain a harassment-free workplace under federal and state equal employment opportunity laws (such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which, … Continue Reading

Equality Commission issues guidance on NDAs in discrimination cases (UK)

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued new guidance on the use of confidentiality agreements (often referred to interchangeably as “non-disclosure agreements” “NDAs”, “gagging clauses” or “confidentiality clauses”) in discrimination cases. The stated aim of the guidance is to “clarify the law on confidentiality agreements in employment and to set out good practice … Continue Reading
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