Discrimination

Does Title VII Protect Gay & Transgender Employees? The Supreme Court May Soon Decide.

As early as November 30, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to hear three high profile employment cases that question whether Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination protects gay and transgender employees.  These cases have significant implications on the proper scope of Title VII and the rights of the LGBT community in the workplace.

Under Title VII, an employer has engaged in “‘impermissible consideration of … sex … in employment practices’ when ‘sex … was a motivating factor for any employment practice,’ irrespective of whether the employer was also motivated by ‘other factors’.”

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NY Harassment Update: NYS Releases Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Videos and NYC Releases Sexual Harassment Prevention FAQs

Late last month, the New York State Department of Labor released model sexual harassment prevention training videos that employers can use to train their employees, available here. While a welcome development, the videos alone do not fully comply with the State’s requirement that sexual harassment prevention training be “interactive” – employers must ensure that employees have the ability to ask questions and receive answers to their questions. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has also provided some new and welcome guidance to employers, releasing FAQs regarding NYC’s new sexual harassment prevention laws, available here. The FAQs primarily address which employers must conduct sexual harassment prevention training and how to calculate an employer’s number of employees for purposes of determining whether the employer is subject to the training requirements. READ MORE

9th Circuit: Employers Must Foot the Bill for Post-Offer Follow-up Medical Exams

The Ninth Circuit recently sided with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), holding that employers can’t require applicants to pay for follow-up post-offer medical exams.  Specifically, in EEOC v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 16-35457 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2018), the court affirmed that BNSF Railway Company (“BNSF”) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by conditioning the plaintiff’s job offer on his getting an MRI at his own expense.

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#MeToo One Year Later – Employers’ Responses to the Movement

On October 15, 2017, the #MeToo movement began in earnest following a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, the Orrick Employment Law and Litigation Blog will analyze the effects of the movement from the employment perspective. Part 1 reviewed the movement’s impact on sexual harassment claims in the workplace, Part 2 focused on the legislative reaction to the movement, and Part 3 below discusses how employers have responded to #MeToo.

Over the past year, the #MeToo movement has caused a seismic shift in our culture that continues to ripple through important aspects of our daily lives, especially the workplace. As we previously discussed, the #MeToo movement’s growing momentum has sparked rising trends in sexual harassment claims and lawsuits, as well as a significant increase in EEOC charges and enforcement efforts. In the past year, the EEOC revealed that it filed 41 lawsuits with sexual harassment allegations, which is a 50 percent increase from 2017. In addition, litigation and administrative enforcement of sexual harassment issues yielded nearly $70 million to the EEOC in 2018, up from $47.5 million the prior year. But newly filed lawsuits or administrative charges only reveal a part of the impact – claims of sexual harassment may have a devastating effect on those accused of wrongdoing and their employers, even if they lie far beyond any applicable statute of limitations, as today’s claims often do. Employers of all shapes and sizes are acclimating their policies and practices for the #MeToo era, as none can avoid the categorical shift in workplace culture that is slowly becoming the “new normal.” READ MORE

Now We’ve Got Your Attention: Recent Amendments to SF Fair Chance Ordinance Give Job Applicants Right to Sue and Send Penalties Soaring

San Francisco recently added significant teeth to its “Fair Chance” ordinance, which is designed to give applicants who have criminal histories a chance to get their foot in the door without being automatically disqualified.

This is the next step in the “ban the box” movement, for which several cities, counties and states have passed laws restricting employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background. The term “ban the box” refers to questions on an employment application that ask a job applicant about past convictions. Proponents of “ban the box” laws argue they will help remove unfair employment barriers to job applicants with criminal histories.

In California, San Francisco and Los Angeles have instituted “Fair Chance” ordinances that require employers to state on their job postings that an arrest or conviction will not automatically disqualify a qualified application from consideration from employment. Recent amendments to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance went into effect on October 1, 2018. These amendments:

  • Expand the scope of the law to cover any employer with 5 or more employees. Previously, the law covered employers with 20 or more employees.
  • Prohibit employers from inquiring about a person’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
  • Prohibit employers from considering any convictions for decriminalized behavior (e.g., marijuana related convictions). Previously, the law had allowed such inquiries for convictions that were seven years old or less.
  • Increase penalties for non-compliance from a per-violation maximum of $100 to $2,000.
  • Direct that penalties must be paid directly to affected employees. Penalties were previously paid to the City.
  • Creates a new private right of action for any employee or applicant whose rights have been violated. Previously only the City Attorney could sue to enforce the law.
  • Requires that covered employers display a new poster in the workplaces as of October 1, 2018.

In addition to fair chance ordinances like San Francisco’s, California employers must also be mindful of other recent legislation that will have an impact on the hiring process, including state-wide legislation enacted in July 2018 that prohibits employers from inquiring into the salary history of their applicants. More on that here.

As always, employers are well advised to reach out to Orrick counsel for assistance navigating this complex area of law.

#MeToo One Year Later: A Viral Hashtag with Lasting Effects

On October 15, 2017, the #MeToo movement began in earnest following a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano.  To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, the Orrick Employment Law and Litigation Blog will analyze the effects of the movement from the employment perspective.  Part 1 below looks at the movement’s impact on sexual harassment claims in the workplace, Part 2 focuses on the legislative reaction to the movement, and Part 3 discusses how employers have responded to #MeToo.

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California #TakesTheLead on Harassment Laws: What Does It Mean for Employers?

As you’ve likely been monitoring, last month the California legislature passed several bills to Governor Brown for signature relating to sexual harassment. The hashtag #TakeTheLead emerged as a symbol reflecting California’s potential to become the state at the forefront of passing additional legislation characterized as increasing protection for women – and workers generally – in the face of the #MeToo movement. Late Sunday night, in the last moments before Governor Brown’s September 30 deadline, he vetoed the most contentious bill – AB 3080 – and signed into law many of the other pending bills. READ MORE

Worth the Wait: NYS Clarifies Requirements for Sexual Harassment Prevention Programs

One week before the October 9, 2018 deadline for compliance with the statewide sexual harassment prevention mandate (the “Mandate”), New York Labor Law § 201-g, New York State released revised model documents available on the state website: READ MORE

NYS Advances its #MeToo Agenda: Draft Sexual Harassment Guidance Released

Late last week and in anticipation of the October 9, 2018 deadline for compliance with the statewide sexual harassment prevention mandate (the “Mandate”), New York Labor Law § 201-g, New York State released a model policy, complaint form, and training module.  The materials are still in draft form and the State is accepting public comments through September 12, meaning these documents are subject to change.  The model policy, complaint form, training module, and FAQs are available here.  Several portions of the sample documents exceed the Mandate’s minimum requirements, and some directly conflict with the position of other agencies.

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NYC Harassment Poster and Notice Released

The New York City Commission on Human Rights has released the Fact Sheet and mandatory Notice referenced in the recent Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act (the “Act”).  Effective September 6, 2018, all employers in New York City must conspicuously post the Notice in the workplace and must distribute the Fact Sheet to all new employees upon hire.  Alternatively, the Fact Sheet may be incorporated in an employee handbook distributed to new employees upon hire. READ MORE