Transgender Recognized Under Title VII

In a memo dated December 15, 2014, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it will interpret Title VII to protect discrimination claims based on gender identity, including transgender workers, reversing an earlier position.

This means that the government can now bring claims against state and local public employers based upon transgender discrimination. It does NOT apply to private employers…..yet; although the EEOC has previously announced its opinion that discrimination against transgender employees is covered under Title VII’s protection of “sex/gender.”

My best advice is to treat transgender employees as you would any other employee. The best way to ensure this treatment is proper training of managers.  No company wants to be part of the history making case extending the protection to private employers under Title VII.

 

Contact me to learn how ERS can customize affordable training options that meet your specific needs and train your staff on how best to avoid an employee claim.

 

Forcing English Can Be Nat’l Origin Discrimination

The EEOC filed a complaint against a company Monday alleging national origin discrimination for firing workers who lacked English language skills that were not even necessary to do their jobs. To support their decision to terminate, the managers created “sham performance improvement plans” despite the fact that all of the employees had satisfactory ratings on annual evaluations.

Two Points: First, as I state repeatedly during my training sessions to managers, the last thing you want your actions to trigger is a call to an attorney. Making up a reason to act that is not consistent with documented facts will surely result in this call by an employee. Second, while fluency in English is not genuinely needed for the effective performance of a job, requiring employees to be fluent in English usually amounts to national origin bias.

Contact me to learn how ERS can customize affordable training options that meet your specific needs and train your staff on how best to avoid an employee claim.

Religious Discrimination Claims on the Rise

On March 6, 2014, the EEOC issued new guidelines on how to deal with religious garb and grooming in the workplace. No doubt this is in response to the fact that in fiscal year 2013, the Commission received over 3,700 charges alleging religious discrimination.

Briefly, Title VII (and many state laws) require an employer, once on notice that a religious accommodation is needed for a sincerely held religious belief or practice, to make an exception to dress and grooming requirements or preferences, unless it would pose an undue hardship. Note that “undue hardship” is a much lower standard in religious discrimination claims than in disability discrimination claims.

As new issues and cases become “hot,” ERS updates each and every training seminar to emphasize what you need to know to prevent a lawsuit.

Contact me to learn how ERS can customize affordable training options that meet your specific needs and train your staff on how best to avoid an employee claim.

Transgender Protection

Gender Identity/Transgender claims are on the horizon. Some state laws already protect against discrimination and retaliation for these categories. Last week, the EEOC issued its support for a recently settled harassment case brought by a transgender worker. As such, protection under Title VII might come sooner than most think.

Therefore, it is important for corporations to understand this emerging recognition by the courts and the EEOC and to be prepared. You should make sure that transgendered workers are covered by anti-discrimination policies and, of course, it is critical that you train managers and other executives on various aspects of harassment against transgendered employees.

Contact me to learn how ERS can customize affordable training options that meet your specific needs and train your staff on how best to avoid an employee claim.

Reassignment of Employees with Disabilities

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday denied United Airlines petition for review of a case brought by the EEOC. This means that the decision by the Court of Appeals will stand, holding that “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act may require employers to provide employees with disabilities with “reassignment to a vacant position” when the employee cannot be accommodated in his or her current position. United’s policy had required those employees to compete for vacant positions, which left many of them unable to remain employed.

The Court of Appeals ruling was that “the ADA does indeed mandate that an employer appoint employees with disabilities to vacant positions for which they are qualified, provided that such accommodations would be ordinarily reasonable and would not present an undue hardship to the employer.”  For companies, the legal issues of what is “ordinarily reasonable” and what constitutes an “undue hardship” are critical to avoid liability.

Contact me to learn how ERS can customize affordable training options that meet your specific needs and train your staff on how best to avoid an employee claim.