Hostile Environment

News & Analysis as of

Transgender Issues in the Workplace

Since 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that transgender individuals are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The EEOC...more

Employee Relations, Title VII, and the Confederate Battle Flag

Many workplaces situated below the Mason-Dixon line will employ both those who feel the Confederate flag is a vital part of their heritage and self-expression, and also those who see the Confederate flag as a symbol of...more

The Confederate Flag is Down in South Carolina, but It's Up in Your Parking Lot: What Should You Do?

There has been considerable press lately regarding efforts to remove the Confederate flag from state capitols, and to otherwise remove public displays of Confederate or similar symbols of "southern heritage." What is often...more

Fourth Circuit Rejects “Manager Rule” in Title VII Claims

On Monday, August 10, the Fourth Circuit rejected the application of the “manager rule” in the Title VII context, finding it “would discourage . . . employees from voicing concerns about workplace discrimination.”...more

Supervisor Told Employee Patient Abuse 'Comes with the Territory'

An employee responsible for drawing blood from nursing home patients was racially and sexually harassed by one of the patients. When she complained, her supervisor told her that “it comes with the territory” and “you just...more

Reminder: California Employers Must Provide Updated Management Training on Workplace Bullying

With most of 2015 already passed, California employers should ensure compliance with new sexual harassment prevention training requirements, which now include "abusive conduct" as a mandated topic of discussion....more

Workplace Bullying: What’s the Employer’s Responsibility?

Over the past two decades, parents, schools, school boards and legislators have worked hard to address bullying in the classroom and on the playground. In the workplace, which also sees its share of bullying behavior, there...more

Second Circuit Clarifies Pleading Standard for Title VII Claims

A Second Circuit panel recently revived a former employee’s racial discrimination suit against New York City, reversing in part the Southern District of New York’s dismissal of her case. In Littlejohn v. City of New York,...more

Think Fast: HR’s Prompt Investigation Key Factor in Sexual Harassment Case Win for Employer

A recent ruling from a Tennessee appeals court reinforces that a prompt and reasonable investigation can help save an employer from liability in response to sexual harassment charges....more

Confederate Flag License Plate Does Not Create a Hostile Work Environment Based on Race

The recent tragic shooting in Charleston reignited debate nationwide regarding the appropriateness of public displays of the Confederate battle flag. Earlier this year, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that a...more

Hillshire Brands Company Sued by EEOC For Racial Harassment at Sara Lee Plant

Federal Agency Charges Racist Comments and Graffiti in the Worksite - DALLAS - Hillshire Brands Company (formerly known as the Sara Lee Corporation) violated federal law by subjecting a class of African-American...more

Employers Can be Liable For Acts of Anonymous Harassers

A recent federal court case emphasized an important lesson for all companies to consider: employers are under an obligation to investigate employee complaints of a hostile work environment even if the identity of the harasser...more

Hostile Work Environment: Playing Defense to Offensive Workplace Conduct

A hostile environment can result from the unwelcome conduct of supervisors, co-workers, customers, contractors or anyone else with whom the victim interacts on the job when the unwelcome conduct renders the workplace...more

OSHA Joins the Growing Support for Transgender Rights in the Workplace

With the increased government scrutiny of transgender issues in the workplace, employers should be careful not to discriminate against transgender employees and to treat them in accordance with their gender...more

Federal Court Says Employer Can Be Liable for Acts of Anonymous Harasser

As a major national company learned recently, employers cannot shirk their obligations to investigate employee complaints of a hostile work environment simply because the identity of the harasser is unknown. Failure to...more

Employers Burdened By More New Laws

The Oregon Legislature enacted several laws in 2015 that will significantly affect your workplace. The following laws go into effect Jan. 1, 2016: Paid Sick Leave - As expected, Oregon has enacted a mandatory paid sick leave...more

Trend to Limit ADA and FEHA Definitions of Disability Attributed to Behavioral Disorders Affecting Work Relations?

Could there be a trend starting among the courts to put restraints on the reach of the disability discrimination laws when it comes to mental impairments affecting an employee’s ability to get along with others in the...more

Employment Law - June 2015 #2

Joint Employers Can Be Liable for Employee Misclassification in California: Why it matters - Liability under the California Labor Code extends to joint employers that are aware of a willful misclassification of an...more

Can Employee Display a Confederate Flag on Facebook as Free Speech? Or Can Employer Take Action?

There’s been lots of talk lately about the Confederate flag and its symbolism in the aftermath of the Charleston shootings. But I wondered: How has this flag come up in the context of employment discrimination cases?...more

New Harassment and Retaliation Standard in Fourth Circuit

Last month, in Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015), the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which includes North and South Carolina, articulated a new standard for analyzing...more

Cumulative Harassment Theory Must Include Individual Claims That Meet Severe and Pervasive Threshold

Sometimes, employees believe that they have been discriminated against or harassed based on their membership in multiple protected categories. Employers often receive EEOC charges that identify race and sex, or age and...more

Transgender at Work: How Employers Can Stay Off the EEOC Radar Screen

It’s no secret that the EEOC—and even some courts—read Title VII to prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. A growing number of state and city laws also specifically include gender identity and/or expression as...more

Fourth Circuit Lowers Bar for Employees in Title VII Retaliation Claims

The case involved an African American cocktail waitress who claimed she was called a “porch monkey” by another employee twice within a 24 hour period. Shortly after reporting the incidents, her employment was terminated. She...more

Fourth Circuit Ruling Makes Retaliation Claims Harder to Dismiss

Reya C. Boyer-Liberto, a cocktail waitress, recently filed a lawsuit against the Maryland hotel she worked at, claiming she was fired after complaining about people using racial slurs against her. The defendant, the...more

MLB Litigation Brief: 4th Circuit Hostile Work Enviro, Class Action Trends Cause Concern, Low-Wage Non-Competes & More

Survey Says Increasing Number of Class Actions Most Important Litigation Trend: Norton Rose Fulbright recently released its global 2015 Litigation Trends Annual Survey, which compiles litigation trends and data gathered...more

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