Category Archives: Discrimination (Title VII / EEO)

RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISION INTERPRETS ADEA TO COVER STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS OF ANY SIZE

On November 6, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, 2018 WL 5794639 (2018), and held that state and local governments of any size are covered under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.  Therefore, states and their political subdivisions are covered by the ADEA regardless of whether they have twenty employees. Read More »

BIOMETRIC HAZARDS FOR PENNSYLVANIA EMPLOYERS

As a result of numerous security issues in this day and age, employers are looking into new technological ways to counteract security risks. One such way is the use of various types of employee biometric data to confirm the identity of an individual before giving him access to the physical or intellectual property of the employer. The obvious advantages to employers are that this data is unique to the known/approved individual and may not be duplicated.  The mandatory use of such data, however, creates another, non-security-related legal issue for employers. Read More »

PEEKING INTO YOUR EMPLOYEES’ MEDICINE CABINETS

It’s natural that you do not want employees operating equipment or engaging in potentially hazardous work while they are under the influence of drugs or medications. While many employers with safety-sensitive jobs have a zero-tolerance policy and test for illegal drugs, you may be worried about the effect a legitimately-prescribed medication may have on an employee’s ability to work safely. Many commonly-prescribed medications can cause drowsiness or disorientation as a side effect. So, can you ask your employees if they are taking prescription medications or require your employees to notify you if they are? Read More »

THE THIRD CIRCUIT BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO HARRASSMENT CLAIMS

Employers defend harassment claims not involving a loss of tangible employment benefits (i.e., hiring/firing, promotion, reassignment, changes in benefits) with a two-prong defense.  First, they show that they exercised reasonable care to avoid such conduct and eliminate it if it occurs (an effective policy and prompt corrective action).  Second, employers show that the complaining employee failed to act with reasonable care to take advantage of the policy.  Employers are successful in obtaining summary judgments in such scenarios where the employee flounders on the second prong by either totally failing to use the policy or doing so belatedly – even as short as two to four months after the incident occurred.  Complaining employees try to keep their claims alive, often by claiming that their failure to promptly invoke the harassment policy was not unreasonable.  A generalized fear of retaliation, unsupported by specific evidence, has not carried the day for employees, and employers have successfully disposed of such cases on summary judgment. Read More »

“HE WAS THE PERFECT APPLICANT…UNTIL WE RECEIVED THE BACKGROUND CHECK”

It’s not uncommon to make a job offer conditional on the results of a pre-employment background check. But, how often do you deny an otherwise good job applicant a job because something unexpected came back in the background check? How do you go about informing this applicant—who you told had the job (subject to the results of the background check)—that he or she is now not going to be considered for employment? Read More »

IN PENNSYLVANIA, OFF-COLOR COMMENTS MAY CREATE MORE LIABILITY THAN A SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIM

Despite the “#MeToo” Movement, it’s still not uncommon for workers to make comments concerning a co-worker’s sexual practices. Nor is it uncommon for employers to successfully defeat sexual harassment claims based on such conduct by citing the well-established case law that discrimination statutes do not mandate a pristine work environment – shop-talk is not actionable.  Read More »

TICKET TO RIDE: MUST EMPLOYERS REASONABLY ACCOMMODATE?

Suppose you have an employee who claims he is too large for a regular airline seat, so when you send him to travel on company business, he wants first-class tickets to accommodate his larger size. Can you tell the employee that he must fly on company business in standard seating? Read More »

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS STILL NOT CONSIDERED CODES OF “GENERAL CIVILITY”

California’s intermediate appellate state court recently ruled in Terris v. County of Santa Barbara that a county employee failed to demonstrate that alleged vulgar, derogatory remarks about homosexuals made by her former employer’s CEO were connected to her termination of employment.  As a result, the court upheld summary judgment in favor of the employer and against the former employee in her wrongful termination action.  Read More »

SEXUAL ORIENTATION DISCRIMINATION UNDER TITLE VII RECOGNIZED IN WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA SUIT

The area of LGBT rights in the workplace has garnered a great deal of attention in recent years as a split has grown among the courts and among federal agencies as to whether Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice argued that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination also included sexual orientation and gender identity.  Recently, however, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice filed an appellate brief in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in which it argued that Title VII does not apply to sexual orientation. Read More »