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Why Men Should be Taking Family Leave in California - and Elsewhere

Two years ago, when Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he was taking paternity leave to spend time with his wife and newborn daughter, it was hailed as a breakthrough for paid family leave. Soon after, a rush of press releases from Twitter, Netflix, Microsoft, IKEA, American Express, Amazon and other well-known companies announced more generous policies. Men, they said, would be encouraged to take parental leave as well.

Parental leave, it seemed, was fashionable, even for the hard driving, workaholic men of Silicon Valley and boded well for the rest of Corporate America.

In theory, more men are taking parental leave -- though it has been an incremental process. A study released last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 46 percent more men were taking advantage of family leave after California's Paid Family Leave (PFL) program took effect. However, it should be noted that only 2 percent of men were taking parental leave before the PFL, and that jumped to 3 percent after the program was in place. So, it is not as if men are rushing in droves to take family leave.

About the Google Memo: Legal Imperatives, Moral Imperatives. Oh, and History, Statistics, and Facts, Too.

By now, we are all aware of former Google employee James Damore's internally published manifesto complaining of a company culture of shaming that suppresses legitimate discussion about discrimination against women working in technology.

In his memo, entitled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," Damore asserts that there are fewer women than men working in tech, not because of bias or discrimination, but because females are physiologically different from males and, as he sees it, often just not suited to science, technology, engineering or math careers. On the one hand claiming that he values diversity and inclusion, he also argues that left leaning organizations - suffering from the ills of compassion and a search for justice - unfairly discriminate against white males to achieve the goal of equitable employment of women and minorities.

Damore's memo purports to rely on "facts and reason" to prove that left-leaning biases demand acquiescence to policies that promote women (and minorities) to the detriment of men. But it is not just leftie rhetoric that does or should drive us to the goals of equality, diversity, and inclusion. Those goals are our moral imperative, now deeply embedded in state and federal laws. And the real facts reveal that we are, sadly, far from meeting our societal imperatives, moral, legal, cultural, and familial.

Pay Equity Is Hollywood's Other 2017 Summer Blockbuster

Alongside this summer's blockbuster movies and sleeper hits something else has been pulling focus in Hollywood: pay equity. And it's about time.

Of course, most of the conversation has centered around "Wonder Woman." Directed by Patty Jenkins and with a predominantly female cast led by Gal Gadot, the movie has eclipsed all others - even the sequel to "Guardians of the Galaxy" - as the highest-grossing film of the summer. Its box office take as of July 18 was $387 million.

This also means "Wonder Woman" has earned the most of any live action film directed by a woman. It's spawned countless think pieces by writers who are just realizing that women in Hollywood can be bankable. As a result, many feel "Wonder Woman" could be something of a watershed moment for women in general, and women directors in particular, in film and television.

McKinney v. Sheriff's Office of Whitley Co., No. 16-4131 (7th Cir. Aug. 8, 2017)

The Seventh Circuit reverses and remands a Title VII claim for trial that it describes as a potentially "strong case of race discrimination." In particular, it reminds district courts that the "same actor" inference - that a manager who hires Black employees is unlikely to be biased against them - is at most an argument for trial, not a rule for deciding summary judgment.

Ninth Circuit Holds Attorney Could Be Liable For Reporting Undocumented Employees

The Ninth Circuit has proven to be a thorn on President Trump's side since he took office, blocking President Trump's original order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and the revised ban released in March 2017.  And in April, a district court judge in the Ninth Circuit blocked Trump's order cutting funding to sanctuary cities.  Trump has responded by threatening to break up the Ninth Circuit (though the president does not have the unilateral power to change federal courts).

Moving Backwards: Trans Military Service

Co-Written by Outten & Golden LLP Paralegal Toby Rae Irving

In the six months since his inauguration, President Trump and his cabinet have been pushing forward to fulfill his myriad of campaign promises, with mixed success. Two days ago it became evident, however, that his continuity from the campaign ends with his supposed support of the LGBTQ community.  Members of the trans community face challenges and lack of legal protection around the primary concerns of most Americans: employment, housing, and healthcare. Instead of addressing these issues central to daily life, President Trump has, once again, rolled the clocks backward on rights for trans people by banning transgender people from serving in the military. The President cited concerns around medical costs and "disruption."

Trump Tweets to Ban Transgender Service Members from Serving "In Any Capacity in the U.S. Military"

Co-Written by Outten & Golden LLP Law Clerk Ryan Elias

On July 26th, President Trump issued a policy shift via Twitter laying out a ban on transgender individuals from serving "in any capacity in the U.S. Military."  His reasoning: transgender service members detract from the military's focus on "decisive and overwhelming victory" and "burden" the military with "tremendous medical costs and disruption."

This policy shift runs contrary to evolving case law and is based on unfounded factual allegations that ignore the fact that transgender people serve in the military at nearly twice the rate of the general population.

T-Mobile USA, Incorporated v. NLRB, No. 16-60284 (5th Cir. July 25, 2017)

The Fifth Circuit enforces a National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") order striking down an employer's policy that banned the use of "cameras, camera phones/devices, or recording devices (audio or video) in the workplace."

Alamo v. Bliss, No. 15-2849 (7th Cir. July 20, 2017)

The Seventh Circuit decides a couple of useful things in this Title VII and § 1983 national-origin discrimination, harassment, and retaliation case, set in a City of Chicago firehouse. First, it holds that even petty activity such as lunch-stealing may constitute part of a hostile work environment when the entire pattern of conduct is considered together. Second, even such tedious activities as constantly shifting an employee from site to site, and intensively challenging fitness for duty after medical leave, may constitute materially adverse employment actions.

New ERISA Fiduciary Rule Takes Effect

On June 9, the long-awaited revised "fiduciary rule" from the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") went into partial effect and will be in full force as of January 1, 2018. After nearly a decade, and much political wrangling, the updated rule ushers in sweeping changes regarding the duties and responsibilities financial advisors and others owe their clients.

The fiduciary rule is actually part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), which governs employer-sponsored retirement and health care plans and protects the money employees contribute to those plans. While it may seem that this is just something those working in the financial services industry must know about, anyone who contributes to a company-sponsored pension or 401(k) plan or who maintains their own IRA should understand the new protections that the updated rule provides.

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