Regular readers of this blog know that we have talked a lot about the National Labor Relations Board and arbitration agreements in the last few years. It doesn’t look like we’re likely to stop talking about those two things anytime soon, either.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”) is unique among employment laws, in part due to the affirmative obligations it puts on the employer. For example, when an employee returns to work after having taken more than 90 days of leave under USERRA, it is not enough that the employer gives the employee his or her old job back. Instead, the employer must place the employee in the position he or she likely would have had but for the military service. So, suppose an employer typically advances employees based upon length of employment. And during the one year an employee was serving in the military, the employee would have advanced to another position. Under USERRA, when the employee returns, he is not to be put back in his old position, but in the position he would have held had his employment not been interrupted by military service. This is known as the “escalator” position.
On April 8, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13665, amending section 202 of Executive Order 11246 which had previously prohibited employment discrimination by federal contractors based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin. Executive Order 13665 added further protection for an employee’s or applicant’s inquiries, discussions, or disclosures regarding his or her own compensation or the compensation of another applicant or employee. This protection typically applies when the applicant or employee obtains this information through ordinary means such as a discussion or conversation with a co-worker.
As we transition from summer picnic season to fall/winter party season, you may be inclined to hold a gathering for your employees. After all, you appreciate them and want to show your thanks by showing them a generous, good time. However, too much of a good time at these functions can cause put employers in a sticky legal situation, so it’s a good idea to keep a few tips in mind as you consider having such a function.
According to a 2011 publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Mental illnesses account for a larger proportion of disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.” The study noted that an estimated 25% of adults self-reported a mental illness at a projected economic cost of $300 billion as of that date.
Most employers are familiar with the protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While these classes include race, color, sex, religion, and national origin, “sexual orientation” is not mentioned as a protected category. Accordingly, federal courts have traditionally declined to extend Title VII protection to plaintiffs asserting claims of discrimination based upon sexual orientation. However, with the EEOC’s recent decision of Complainant v. Foxx, the landscape may be shifting with regard to LGBT rights under federal anti-discrimination statutes.
On August 12, 2015, the Third Circuit – the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over Pennsylvania – held that an employer’s decision to suspend an employee with pay was not an “adverse employment action” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because this was an issue of first impression in the Third Circuit, Pennsylvania employers need to be aware of the case.