Employment Law Navigator – Week in Review: March 2017

by Zelle LLP

Last week, sexual harassment and sex discrimination received significant media attention. The Washington Post revealed statements made by 250 current and former employees of Sterling Jewelers, parent company to Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, in a private class action arbitration accusing the company of rampant sexual harassment and wage discrimination.  A class of 69,000 current and former female employees has been certified in the action, which began in 2008.  Silicon Beat, the tech blog of The Mercury News, reported that another female former Uber engineer spoke out last Friday about her experience of sexual harassment and sexism at that company. And The Guardian reported on the story of a female engineer at Tesla who is accusing the company of pervasive harassment and sex discrimination in a suit filed last year.

A Maryland commercial real estate services company agreed to pay $100,000 and furnish additional relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit. The EEOC charged that an employee was fired when, after returning from FMLA leave for breast cancer treatment, she requested part time work as an accommodation.
Inc. covered a recent case in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that unwelcome hugging in the workplace can create a hostile work environment.
California’s Equal Restroom Access Act (ERAA) took effect on March 1, requiring that some single-occupancy restrooms have signs indicating they are gender neutral.
A Seattle-based fishing company agreed to pay $1.85 million to resolve a racial harassment suit brought by a Hispanic former employee who alleged that he and other Hispanic crew members were subjected to racial slurs and treated differently than white crew members.
Lawrence Summers argued in The Washington Post that, rather than picking on robots, America should focus on educating and retraining workers, investing in infrastructure, and embracing technological advancement.
Back Channel took a close look at the concept and impact of “diversity debt” in the tech industry.
Quartz explained how rising minimum wage laws may be driving fast food companies to automation.
A Boeing employee caused a cybersecurity breach affecting 36,000 workers in 4 states when he sent a spreadsheet containing confidential employee information to his spouse in order to get help with spreadsheet formatting.
The Guardian named the ten most  influential wearable devices, starting with the abacus ring from the 17th century Qing Dynasty of China.
In Other News
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will temporarily suspend expedited processing for H-1B visas, a move which is likely to have a significant impact on tech, consulting, and outsourcing industries.
Parents from around the world shared their experiences of parental leave on Buzzfeed.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to block an Obama administration OSHA rule that would have significantly extended the penalty period for record-keeping violations.
SHRM examined the privacy rights of employees in light of news that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer conducts random checks of the mobile devices of White House staffers.
The New York Times found that American workers are opting to work longer.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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