Tag: discrimination

Landmark Seventh Circuit Decision Interprets Title VII Protections To Prohibit Sexual Orientation Discrimination

“Who will be hurt if gays and lesbians have a little more job protection?” Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals posed this question a few months ago during oral argument in a case involving a teacher who alleged she was fired because she is lesbian.  On Tuesday, the en banc Seventh … Continue Reading

Developments in Employee Benefits Law: Same-Sex Marriage and Title VII’s Protection for LGBT Employees

A number of recent legal changes will have a notable impact on employee benefits law both now and in the future.  Some of the most significant of those changes are the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, and the expansion of Title VII’s discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender … Continue Reading

EEOC Rules That Title VII Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

In a 3-2 decision published on Thursday, July 16, 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) concluded that intentional discrimination against an employee based on their sexual orientation is sex discrimination- an act strictly prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is premised … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch: It’s All About the Motive

Stoel Rives Summer Associate Dexter Pearce co-authored this post. In a case Justice Antonin Scalia described as “really easy,” the Supreme Court held that an employer can be liable for failing to accommodate a religious practice even if the employer lacks actual knowledge of a need for an accommodation. Writing for the 8-to-1 majority (Justice … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Clarifies When a Franchisee’s Employees Can Bring Employment Claims Against the Franchisor in Taylor Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC

In Taylor Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, the California Supreme Court restricted the ability of a franchisee’s employees to sue the franchisor based on theories of vicarious liability and the theory that the franchisor was an “employer” under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). With this decision, franchisors can breathe a sigh of relief as … Continue Reading

Washington Court of Appeals Holds Independent Contractors Are Protected from Retaliation by the Washington Law Against Discrimination

The Washington courts are strict in their interpretation of the classification of individuals as employees versus independent contractors, resulting in many an employer discovering that an “independent contractor” is instead an employee. But the Washington Court of Appeals’ recent ruling in Currier v. Northland Services, Inc., confirms that even those individuals who qualify as bona fide … Continue Reading

President Obama Signs Executive Order Banning LGBT Job Discrimination by Federal Contractors and Government

What the Executive Order Does: This Executive Order amends two earlier executive orders: it amends Executive Order 11246, which prohibits discrimination by federal contractors to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing prohibitions of race, color, religion, national origin, age and sex discrimination. In addition, Executive Order 11478, which, as amended, bars discrimination … Continue Reading

Does Data Discriminate? Perspectives for Employers on the White House’s Recent “Big Data” Report

Last month, the White House released a comprehensive report on the use of “big data” in the public and private sectors. Employers should pay particular attention to one of its central forecasts: the EEOC and other federal antidiscrimination agencies may begin scrutinizing how employers collect and use big data in managing their workforces. The concept of … Continue Reading

Washington State Supreme Court’s Decision on Religious Accommodation: What It Means for Employers

Employers in Washington should take note of last week’s decision from the Washington State Supreme Court holding that state law allows a claim for failure to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices. That result is hardly surprising, but how the Court reached that result, and its other conclusions along the way, will complicate how businesses … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Sides With EEOC In Finding Lactation Discrimination Constitutes Title VII Violation

Last year, we posted about a decision from the Southern District of Texas in which the court ruled that firing a woman because she was lactating or breast-pumping did not amount to sex discrimination under Title VII or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed the district court’s decision.  … Continue Reading

Proposed Utah Bill To Prohibit Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Utah State Senator Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) is sponsoring a bill that would amend Utah’s employment and housing antidiscrimination statutes to address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Urquhart introduced Senate Bill 262 to the Utah Senate Rules Committee on March 1, 2013. Currently, several municipalities in Utah have ordinances prohibiting employment or … Continue Reading

EEOC’s Multifaceted Effort To Aggressively Target Employer Policies Potentially Having “Disparate Impact”

As many of you know, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been on an aggressive tear of late on a broad range of issues.  In addition to upping its investigations of charges of individual “disparate treatment” discrimination, it is undertaking a number of new initiatives that show a renewed focus on facially neutral employer … Continue Reading

Washington Law Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination Not Retroactive

On September 13, the Washington Supreme Court held that a 2006 amendment to the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, does not apply retroactively. But the Court also held that evidence of pre-amendment harassment is admissible to show why post-amendment conduct is discriminatory. … Continue Reading

Washington Appeals Court Holds No Religious Accommodation Required Under WLAD

In Short v. Battle Ground School District, Division II of the Washington Court of Appeals held last week that Washington’s Law Against Discrimination, which makes it unlawful for employers to discharge employees because of creed, does not require employers to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs. Julie Short, a devout Christian, was employed as an assistant to … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Final Regulations for RFOA Defense Under ADEA

  Last week, we reported that several senators had introduced new amendments to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") to make it easier for plaintiffs in age discrimination cases to prove their claims.  U.S. Senators aren’t the only ones busy refining federal age discrimination laws – on March 30, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity … Continue Reading

Senators Propose Amendments To ADEA

On March 12, several senators introduced Senate Bill 2189, known as the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, which would overturn a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court case, Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc, that had made it more difficult for older workers to prove claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").  Under the … Continue Reading

Are Remedies Available to Working Moms Who Experience “Lactation Discrimination”?

For many new moms returning to work after the birth of a child, pumping breast-milk is considered to be a necessary evil.  Necessary because pumping ensures that these mothers’ babies can continue to experience the many benefits of breast-milk, and helps the mothers to maintain their milk supplies, relieves painful engorgement, and prevents potentially serious … Continue Reading

Seasons’ Greetings From The California Legislature–New Laws That Apply To Employers In January 2012

The California legislature has done plenty this year to leave in employers’ stockings for the holidays–new employment laws that will become effective January 1, 2012.  In addition to the new California Transparency in Supply Chains Act we blogged about earlier, after some eggnog and holiday cheer, employers will need to be aware of new legal … Continue Reading

Obama Jobs Bill Proposes To Ban Discrimination Against Unemployed

As almost everyone knows, last week President Obama presented a $447 billion jobs bill, called the American Jobs Act, to a joint session of Congress full of proposals designed to stimulate the lagging U.S. economy.  What many people probably don’t know is that, tucked into the bill, is a provision that would make it unlawful … Continue Reading

The EEOC Reiterates the Importance of the Interactive Process

A recent decision from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reminds employers of their affirmative duty to engage in an interactive process once an employee raises a medical condition and requests some change to their work environment to accommodate it. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act at issue in Harden v. Social … Continue Reading

Why Employers Should Exercise Restraint and Objectivity

Retaliation claims are increasing at an alarming pace. Not only have these claims tripled in number within the last two decades, they now exceed race discrimination as the leading claim filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Click here to see EEOC statistics. Why the startling trend? First, Congress has gone to great lengths to protect … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds Shareholder Hire Preference Not Facially Discriminatory

Meghan M. Kelly also contributed to this post. In an unpublished opinion in Conitz v. Teck Alaska Inc. the Ninth Circuit held that an Alaska Native corporation’s shareholder employment preference was not facially discriminatory because it was based on shareholder status, not racial status.   Teck employee Gregg Conitz works at the Red Dog Mine, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Upholds “Cat’s Paw” Theory In Employment Discrimination Cases

Today the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Staub v. Proctor Hospital, upholding the "cat’s paw" theory of employer liability, under which employers are liable for discrimination where lower-level supervisors with discriminatory motives influence, but do not make, adverse employment decisions made by higher-level managers.  The near unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, is likely to … Continue Reading

Supreme Court To Decide Scope of Cat’s Paw in Employment Cases

  Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Staub v. Proctor Hospital to address the question of when an employer may be held liable in “cat’s paw” situations, where an employee with unlawful intent influences a decisionmaker but is not involved in making the ultimate employment decision. In this case the employee, Vincent Staub, was … Continue Reading
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