Category Archives: Discrimination

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It’s Official: Newsom Expands The Definition of “Employee” Under California Law

On September 18 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB-5, which codified the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex v. Superior Court decision.  In Dynamex, the California Supreme Court adopted the so-called “ABC” test to determine coverage under the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders.  AB-5 expands the application of the ABC test to the entire … Continue Reading

Three Major Workplace Bills to Land on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Desk

Following the launch of the so-called “MeToo” movement, the California Legislature (controlled by a Democratic supermajority) has aggressively churned out new bills that further strengthen the ability for workers to sue their employers and increase the already-significant regulatory burden on these companies. This fall, the California Legislature is geared to send three significant bills to … Continue Reading

Update: Governor Cuomo Signs Significant Changes to New York Discrimination and Harassment Legislation Into Law – Employer Compliance Required

On August 12, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law S.6577, a bill implementing a series of sweeping changes to the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”). As we previously reported, S.6577 provides for a number of notable updates to the NYSHRL designed to strengthen state protection for victims of sexual harassment. However, the … Continue Reading

A Heads Up On The CROWN Act: Employees’ Natural Hairstyles Now Protected

On July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 188 also known as the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.  The CROWN Act amends the California Education Code and the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, including hair … Continue Reading

Salary History Off-Limits Under New Illinois Equal Pay Law

On July 31, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law prohibiting Illinois employers from asking job applicants or their previous employers about salary history. The law amends the Equal Pay Act of 2003, which made it illegal to discriminatorily pay employees on the basis of sex or race. The impetus behind the new salary history … Continue Reading

Title VII Reversal: Fifth Circuit Holds No Transgender Protections Under Civil Rights Statute

Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the notion that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or transgender status. More than a standard-issue opinion, however, the Fifth Circuit’s holding was a laser-focused rebuke of a … Continue Reading

Mandatory Backpay in ADEA Claims: What Will SCOTUS Decide?

Baltimore County has petitioned the Supreme Court to decide whether backpay for violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) is mandatory. Background In 1999, two Baltimore County Correctional Officers initiated charges at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) claiming that they were being discriminated against based on their ages because they had to … Continue Reading

NYC Bans Discrimination Based on Sexual and Reproductive Health Decisions

As of May 20, 2019, NYC will prohibit employment discrimination based on an employee’s “sexual and reproductive health decisions,” which the new law defines as “any decision by an individual to receive services, which are arranged for or offered or provided to individuals relating to sexual and reproductive health, including the reproductive system and its … Continue Reading

SCOTUS To Rule On Whether Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity Discrimination

On April 22, 2019, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in a trio of cases challenging the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s (“Title VII”) prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex.  The definition of “sex” in Title VII, and particularly whether the term incorporates sexual orientation and/or … Continue Reading

New York City Council Passes Legislation Banning Marijuana Testing of Job Applicants

On April 9, 2019, New York’s City Council passed legislation, available here, which will prohibit employers from requiring prospective employees to submit to testing for tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, as a condition of employment. If, as expected, Mayor Bill de Blasio signs the law into effect, the New York City Human Rights … Continue Reading

Equal Pay Act Amendment Passes House of Representatives

On March 27, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, an act designed to amend and strengthen the existing federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). The Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House by a vote of 242-187 on a largely party-line basis, is sponsored by … Continue Reading

Did New Jersey Just Try to Ban Employment Arbitration Agreements?

On March 18, 2018, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) was amended to prohibit prospective waivers of substantive and procedural rights or remedies relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment and that provisions in employment contracts waiving such rights shall be deemed against public policy and unenforceable. The new amendment further provides … Continue Reading

New Dos and Don’ts: New York City Bans Discrimination Based On Hairstyle

On February 18, 2019, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (the “NYCCHR”) released new legal enforcement guidance (the “Guidance”) regarding discrimination on the basis of natural hair and hairstyles. In the Guidance, the NYCCHR advised employers that “[t]he New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) protects the rights of New Yorkers to maintain … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit and California Court of Appeals Rule on Freedom of Religion Rights

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? Not necessarily. The Ninth Circuit and California Court of Appeals recently decided two cases that substantially limit the scope and application of freedom of religion rights rooted in the U.S. Constitution. Together, these cases narrow the definition of the term “minister,” and expand the spectrum of … Continue Reading

Transgender Discrimination Outlawed in New York

On January 25, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Under the law, “gender identity or expression” is defined as a “person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex … Continue Reading

New Jersey Equal Pay Act Signed Into Law

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (the “Act”), which amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) to provide enhanced equal pay protections for New Jersey employees. The Act, which becomes effective on July 1, 2018, prohibits pay disparities based upon … Continue Reading

Texas Federal Court Rules That Anti-Discrimination Statute Protects Transgender Individuals

In a landmark ruling, a federal court judge in Texas issued an opinion holding—unequivocally—that Title VII protects transgender individuals from discrimination based on their gender identity. Wittmer v. Phillips 66 Company, No., 4:2017-cv-02188 (S.D.Tex, April 4, 2018). The ruling is the first of its kind in Texas and will likely have a major impact in … Continue Reading

Yoga and Massage Therapist Fired for Being “Too Cute” Sees Gender Discrimination Claim Revived on Grounds of Unjustified Spousal Jealousy

A New York appeals court recently ruled in Edwards v. Nicolai (153 A.D.3d 440 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t 2017)) that an employment termination motivated by the sexual jealousy of an employer’s spouse may support a claim for gender discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) and the New York City Human … Continue Reading

New York’s Highest Court Narrowly Construes New York City Human Rights Law To Bar Disability Discrimination Claims Based on Perceived Alcoholism

Last month, New York’s highest court took the unprecedented step of construing the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) more narrowly than its state and federal counterparts to bar plaintiffs’ city law disability discrimination claims. Answering a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the New York Court … Continue Reading

5 New Laws: California Governor Approves Employee-Friendly Laws

The 2017 California Legislature adjourned on September 15, 2017, and resulted in more than 700 bills being sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval. Although the deadline for the Governor to sign new bills into law does not officially expire until October 15, the Governor has already given his stamp of approval to a … Continue Reading

California Employers – New Year, New Rules in 2017

The new year will bring along a variety of new obligations for California employers.  Although some of the new laws clarify existing law and provide helpful guidance, several impose additional requirements.  This update highlights key provisions of some of the more notable changes taking effect in 2017.  Links to the statutes and/or prior updates regarding … Continue Reading
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