Two decisions this week address racially-hostile work environment claims involving unusual circumstances. The Fourth Circuit addresses the employer's duty to address anonymous race harassment, here a death threat left in a company mailbox. The Eighth Circuit addresses harassment of an African-American supervisor by her Somali staff. Both result in reversals of summary judgment on Title VII and § 1981 harassment claims.
The Department of Labor (DOL) is updating the rules that govern overtime for salaried workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new rules will make millions more Americans eligible for overtime wages.
Last Friday, the United States Supreme Court forever changed the political landscape of this country in a 5-4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment protects same sex-couples' right to marry. Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___, No. 14-556, slip op., *12 (2015). The decision came exactly two years after the Court held the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law defining marriage as between one woman and one man, to be unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 2696 (2013), and exactly twelve years after the Court held that a Texas statute criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct was unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 579 (2003).
EEOC to Investigate Denial of Gender-Appropriate Restrooms in Private Sector as Sex Discrimination under Title VII Post-Lusardi
The Second Circuit holds that racially-biased comments by a decisionmaker - even if not specifically concerning the adverse employment decision - may be circumstantial evidence of a biased motive if it is related in some way to the employee's performance. The panel also holds that denial of tenure to a public school teacher is an adverse employment action, even if the teacher is invited to continue to working.
New technology, if applied thoughtlessly, can leave disabled employees behind. The Fourth Circuit today reverses summary judgment in a Rehabilitation Act case where a public employer allegedly "opened a new, consolidated call center using software that was inaccessible to blind employees."
The Fifth Circuit reverses its beginning-of-the-year, 2-1 decision in Wooten, now holding (3-0) that the plaintiff's complaint - while "admittedly light on factual details" - was sufficient under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 to state a claim of discrimination and retaliation under the ADEA. Thus, the complaint was sufficient to support entry of default judgment against a non-appearing employer.
On June 10th, the New York City Council voted with near unanimity to break down a barrier faced by jobseekers with criminal histories by passing the Fair Chance Act. At its core, this legislation prevents a person's criminal record from acting as an arbitrary ban to employment by forbidding employers from discussing criminal convictions during the application and interview process.
A federal district court judge in San Francisco issues a blockbuster opinion holding Uber's arbitration policy with its drivers unenforceable under California law. The court holds that the policy - imposed by way of a cell-phone clickbox screen - created a one-sided forum for resolution of legal disputes.
On behalf of the New York State Bar Association, Wendi Lazar, Partner and co-chair of the Outten & Golden Executives and Professionals Practice Group, presented a discussion panel at Manhattan's CUNY Graduate Center on 34th Street as part of a 4-hour MCLE workshop titled "'Sweat Equity' in Start-Ups and Early-Stage Businesses: Legal, Tax and Employment Issues for Founders, Key Executives and Independent Contractors." In her lecture, Lazar focused primarily on company founders' obligations to other employees, recruiting talent, wage and hour concerns (wages vs. equity), misclassifying employees as independent contractors, and preparing for a sale (workplace issues, avoiding tax problems, potential litigation, and the value of the business).