Emergence of Transgender Status Issues in Workplace Raises Compliance Questions for Employers

Transgender issues have been grabbing headlines in recent months—perhaps most notably with Bruce Jenner’s televised announcement about his gender transition.  Beyond the bright lights of pop culture, a wave of litigation and legislation is causing employers to pay closer attention to transgender discrimination and related issues.  As we noted in August of last year, there is an increasing trend toward protecting gender identity and transgender status.  This post provides an update and a high-level overview of the landscape in this emerging area and offers some tips for employers to minimize risk.

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And the Oscar Goes to . . . Equal Pay?  Arquette’s Oscar Speech Sparks Comparable Worth Bill in California

Just in time for Women’s History Month, California State Senator and Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Hannah-Beth Jackson, introduced Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which seeks to narrow the gender pay gap in California.  Citing best supporting actress Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance speech where she called for, “wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women,” Senator Jackson hopes to turn that rallying cry into concrete legislation in California.

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EEOC Won’t Get its Prescription Filled at CVS: Case Challenging its Releases Dismissed on Summary Judgment

On October 7th, a federal district judge granted summary judgment against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its lawsuit against CVS. The EEOC had challenged the nation’s largest integrated provider of prescriptions and health-related services for its employee separation agreement. The EEOC’s Chicago office had filed the suit in February, alleging the company’s separation agreement violated its employees’ Title VII rights to communicate with the EEOC and file discrimination charges. Read More

Obama Executive Order Places New Burdens and Restrictions on Federal Contractors

In an unwelcome, mid-summer surprise for the business community, President Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order on Thursday July 31, 2014 requiring federal contractors to report violations of federal and state labor and employment laws and prohibiting certain contractors from requiring that employees arbitrate disputes alleging violations of Title VII or claims for sexual assault or harassment.  The Executive Order also requires federal contractors to provide relevant information about hours worked and overtime on employee paychecks.

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The EEOC Takes Aim, Once Again, at Employers’ Separation Agreements

On April 30, 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against a private college, charging for the second time in two months that an employer’s severance agreement was unlawful. The EEOC alleged that CollegeAmerica, Inc.’s Separation and Release Agreements violated federal law by conditioning the receipt of severance payments and benefits on the employee’s promise not to file a charge with, or cooperate in investigations by, the EEOC against CollegeAmerica. Read More

Did the EEOC Try Hard Enough to Resolve Your Case Before Filing Suit?

March, 2014, three powerful business groups urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an important issue at stake for employers in Mach Mining LLC v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—can courts review the adequacy of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC’s”) conciliation efforts prior to filing suit? In Mach Mining, the Seventh Circuit held “no,” although six other circuits to address this issue have acknowledged an employer’s ability to raise failure to conciliate as an affirmative defense. If the Supreme Court grants Mach Mining’s February 25, 2014 petition for review, the ruling could have significant impact for employers facing potential litigation with the EEOC. Read More

California Court of Appeal Holds Employer Cannot Shorten Statute of Limitation on California Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

Can employers enter into binding agreements with employees to shorten the statute of limitations on discrimination and other employment claims? A California Court of Appeal decision answered that question with a resounding “no” in a recent case, reinstating claims by a woman who filed suit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, but after the deadline she had agreed to in an employment agreement signed at the time of hire. Read More

California Employers: Test Yourself – Are You Ready for 2014?

If you have employees in California, you are, no doubt, aware that California laws are constantly changing and have a tendency to sneak up on even the best companies. To help prepare you for the year ahead, here are five important questions employers should ask themselves to test whether they are ready for the key changes in 2014: Read More

ENDA Prevails in the Senate, but Will it End in the House?

On November 7, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”), legislation that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The ban would join similar federal workplace protections based on race, national origin, religion, gender, age, and disability. The issue now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration, where many experts believe the legislation faces an uphill battle. Read More

EEOC Cut Short for Shortcutting Path to Court – Again

Last week, the EEOC suffered another major loss when a New York district court found that the EEOC once again shirked its pre-litigation obligations under Title VII. Read More