If the events of the past few weeks have shown us anything, it's that - like Black lives - words matter. Both spoken and in writing, the language we use has the power to inspire, offend, unite, and divide. Sometimes, the use of seemingly harmless words, or even the absence of words, can be influential.
In a significant victory for immigrants' rights, the U.S Supreme Court blocked the Trump Administration's attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Court's surprising 5-4 decision found the administration failed to provide legally sufficient reasons for ending the program under the Administrative Procedure Act.
Ban the Box legislation can be an important tool in remedying Black underemployment by removing employers' ability to use criminal history as a proxy for discrimination. However, it only attacks a symptom of the problem created by America's racist history, the insidiousness of which contributes to the devaluation of Black lives and the exclusion of Black men and women from all sectors of the workforce.
As state and local economies reopen, employers across the country are cautiously welcoming employees back to their jobs, fearing a resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak. For returning workers, the workplace will be different from before, including the extent to which their privacy will be protected, especially medical and health information.
In recent weeks, the White House released guidelines for reopening the nation's economy, largely punting to state and local officials to assess whether they are sufficiently prepared to stay ahead of the COVID-19 spread and when to reopen non-essential businesses. In anticipation of bringing employees back to the workplace, the administration has also instructed employers to "develop and implement appropriate policies" to keep workers and patrons safe from contagion. That may be easier said than done.
As the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis continues, many companies have arranged for significant portions of their workforce to perform their jobs remotely. The physical delineation between work and home has been blurred, and videoconferencing tools to virtually connect with coworkers and clients are a fact of work and home life. Unfortunately, giving managers and colleagues glimpses into your private world, images, messages, and even people in the background can lead to discrimination, harassment, and adverse treatment.
Much has been asked of the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Executives & Professionals Practice Group is proud to represent several of them, and we owe all the frontline heroes and first responders our deepest gratitude - especially when hospitals that are short on staff and protective gear assign them new job duties to address patient needs. The irony is that when healthcare workers are deployed and redeployed where they are needed most, employers may limit those workers' rights and the ability to safeguard their health and their family members' well-being .
The laws in New York and elsewhere throughout the country have come a long way in recent years when it comes to protecting job applicants from employment discrimination based on criminal history. "Ban the box" laws and ordinances facilitate opportunities for tens of thousands of workers who used to pay an ongoing price for transgressions that they paid for long ago.
The Seventh Circuit's opinion contains useful guidance for employees suffering disability discrimination and harassment. One key takeaway: plaintiffs should not be quick to assume - in charging, pleading and proving a hostile-work-environment claim - that harassment always constitutes one continuing violation. "[A] substantial passage of time without incident known to the employer, a change in the employee's supervisors, [or] an intervening remedial action by the employer" may break the chain.
Over the last decade, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received an average of 3,573 charges of religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Those are just the reported incidents; many more are suspected of going unreported, further highlighting the prevalence of religious-based discrimination in workplaces across the country.