Harassment

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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

InvestigationsFor 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

EEOC Charge Filing in 2014: Number of Charges Down, Retaliation Claims Up

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released its annual statistical report  detailing charge filing activity in 2014.  The EEOC, the federal administrative agency which investigates and prosecutes claims of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation under a number of employment and civil rights statutes, reported 88,778 charges filed in 2014, down from 93,727 charges filed … Continue Reading

Work-related illness rising in Japan – harassment and overwork to blame?

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan recently released figures showing a 12% year on year rise in reported work-related illness claims.  In a third of these cases, employees were awarded compensation after claims of ‘power harassment’ or “dramatic and uncompensated rise in workload” were upheld. Of course, instances of workplace harassment are … Continue Reading

Employers beware: Appeal Court heralds significant jump in sexual harassment damages in Australia

Australian employers have been given a clear warning that damages for sexual harassment are likely to be much higher in future.    In October 2013 we wrote about a Ms Richardson who won her sexual harassment claim against her employer and was awarded $18,000 in general damages, being damages for non-economic loss such as pain and … Continue Reading

US President Obama Signs Executive Order Banning Discrimination Against LGBT Federal Employees and Contractors

Fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise, on July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order banning workplace discrimination against millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of the federal government , as well as federal contractors and sub-contractors providing services to the federal government. The Executive Order makes it illegal to fire or … Continue Reading

Impact of claimant’s dishonesty on injury to feelings compensation

So here is Friday’s teaser – let us suppose that an Employment Tribunal has just decided that you have been sexually harassed by your former boss, that he was fixated by your breasts, habitually stared at them and frequently addressed them while in conversation with you.  He has also touched you, uninvited and unreciprocated, on … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Adopts Joint Employer Liability for Title VII Claims

On December 10, 2013, the Sixth Circuit formally adopted a new theory plaintiffs can use to hold entities liable under Title VII. In EEOC, et. al., v. Skanska USA Building, Inc., 2013 FED App. 1021N (6th Cir.), the Sixth Circuit found that Skanska, a general contractor, was liable under Title VII though Skanska did not … Continue Reading

“Crazy Miss Cokehead” – when banter goes too far

 Most workplaces do (and indeed probably should) have a degree of daily workplace banter between employees within the workplace.  It’s usually part of the oil which keeps the machine running happily and smoothly.  But when does the banter cross the line from a little reciprocal mickey-taking and verbal jousting to help the day go past … Continue Reading

US Ninth Circuit Sets Maximum Ratio for Punitive Damage Awards Under Title VII

A prevailing employee in an action brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may recover damages for unlawful discrimination and harassment in employment on the basis of, among other things, sex or gender.  In 2011, an Arizona federal jury found that an employee had been subjected to “reprehensible” sexual harassment on … Continue Reading

UK vetinerary practice criticised for medical treatment of sick employee

This is not quite as bad as it first sounds.  Where a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) applied by an employer places a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage by reason of his disability, then the Equality Act 2010 says that the employer has to make reasonable adjustments to prevent the PCP having that effect.  … Continue Reading
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