Discrimination and Harassment Law and Practice

In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, we urge employers to get ready for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s data reporting. Although facing criticism, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is moving forward with its pay data collection, and with the reporting deadline set for September 30, employers should prepare now.

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I recently provided insight for an article outlining how companies should discuss retirement plans with their older employees. I explained that an annual review period would be an appropriate time to discuss an employee’s upcoming plans for retirement and any need for success planning.

“Employers should pose questions to employees about retirement plans with the sole goal of understanding staffing needs for future workforce planning,” I explained. “This discussion should be general in nature, should not make reference to the employee’s age or ‘generational’ comments, and should promptly end if the employee indicates that retirement is not a consideration at that point.”


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More and more companies are implementing socially conscious workplace policies and are free to do so, as long as no discrimination occurs.More and more companies are implementing socially conscious policies on topics ranging from banning the use of plastic-ware to refusing to reimburse employees for meals that include meat or are otherwise non-vegan. Companies are generally free to implement these types of policies, as long as employees are not unlawfully discriminated against as part of the policy. I recently examined the legality of company implementation of socially conscious policies in the workplace in an article published Workplace Magazine.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and the American with Disabilities Act protects employees with disabilities; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits age discrimination. But there is no employment law protecting an employee’s right to use plastic,” I explained.


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I was quoted in a piece published in Business Insurance discussing the Supreme Court’s review of three cases related to sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Two of the cases, Melissa Zarda et al. v. Altitude Express and Gerald Lynn Bostock V. Clayton County, will be heard together. Both cases include employees contending they were fired from their jobs due to their sexual orientation.

The third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, will be heard separately. In that case, the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati ruled in favor of a transgender worker who was fired when she told her funeral home employer she was undergoing a gender transition from male to female.


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Bass, Berry & Sims invites you to a complimentary seminar focusing on trending areas of labor & employment law.

Topics will include:

  • FMLA/ADA Considerations for Leaves of Absence: A practical, scenario-based discussion regarding extended leaves of absence and how they are regulated by application of the FMLA and the ADA, including a detailed discussion of the EEOC’s position with respect to extended leave as a reasonable accommodation.
  • Preventing and Addressing Workplace Violence: A comprehensive discussion of workplace violence, including strategies for preventing and properly addressing acts of violence in the workplace.
  • An Employers Approach to Reducing Harassment: Questions employers should ask as they strive to reduce harassment in the workplace and cultivate a healthy working environment.

EVENT DETAILS:


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In an article published in the Nashville Business Journal’s Largest Employers special report on July 6, 2018, I provided a column highlighting three important questions for employers to ask as they strive to reduce harassment in the workplace and cultivate a healthy workplace environment. The effectiveness of an anti-harassment policy often comes down to employee perception of how the policy is enforced, trained and embraced by leadership, so it is important that employers are mindful of the answers to these questions:

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Bass, Berry & Sims and HR Professionals Magazine invite you to join us for a complimentary seminar focused on addressing, reducing and preventing sexual harassment claims in the workplace.

  • Harassment Law Refresher: A high-level review of harassment law.
  • Conducting Effective Internal Investigations: A discussion of best practices for conducting internal investigations into harassment claims.
  • The “Company Culture” Issue – How to Reduce Harassment in the Workplace: Strategies for reducing harassment in the workplace and developing a safe culture.

EVENT DETAILS:


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Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett discussed the implications of the ruling holding responsible the University of Connecticut Health Center for the sexual harassment of an employee by a fellow co-worker. In the ruling, the court found that the University of Connecticut Health Center did not take proper steps to alert supervisors of the co-workers prior harassment history which, therefore, prevented the supervisors from properly monitoring his behavior and allowed the misbehavior to occur. According to Tim, “While employers likely can’t monitor their staff at all times and eliminate all workplace harassment, they likely need to have a ‘heightened sense of awareness’ when an employee has been disciplined in the past, and companies will have a greater responsibility to monitor and investigate any allegations in those situations.”

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Tim Garrett Discusses Cooper Tire Case with HR ProfessionalsI provided an update on the August 2017 decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that a picketing worker from Cooper Tire should not have been fired for yelling racist insults at a busload of African-American replacement workers. The Eighth Circuit’s decision affirmed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision that the company