On September 29, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued long-awaited enforcement guidance on workplace harassment. The “Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace,” published in the Federal Register on October 2, 2023, advises employers on handling new workplace realties, including LGBTQ rights, online misconduct, abortion, and a number of different types of harassment. Continue Reading EEOC Issues Long-Awaited Guidance on Harassment in the Modern Workplace
Total Planetary Alignment. Halley’s Comet. A Full Solar Eclipse. Texas Enacting Heightened Employee Protections Beyond Federal Law.
What are “things that rarely happen in your lifetime?”
In Texas, the general rule is that employee-facing legal protections overlap with—and extend no further than—its federal counterparts. But newly-enacted state legislation concerning workplace sexual harassment has bucked that trend.Continue Reading New Texas Law Expands Employee Rights and Employer Liability for Sexual Harassment Claims
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 California Labor Code and will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Continue Reading It’s Official: Newsom Expands The Definition of “Employee” Under California Law
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 Governor Gavin Newsom that all California employers should carefully follow.
Continue Reading Three Major Workplace Bills to Land on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Desk
A 21st Century Social Movement
In this age of interconnectivity, compelling societal movements have a never-before-seen speed and reach. Traditional means of spreading information and generating social change have been supplemented—if not outright replaced—by the near-instantaneous ability of an idea or cause to go viral on social media, regardless of its source. In 2018, the gatekeepers—and indeed, the gates—to disseminating content and generating popular support are being dismantled before our eyes. Nowhere over the past year was this more evident than in the #MeToo movement.
Continue Reading EEOC Data Confirms #MeToo’s Impact: Six Keys for Employers in the Wake of This Powerful Cultural Moment
Last October, we wrote about a Chicago ordinance requiring hotel employers to, among other things, equip hotel employees assigned to work in guestrooms or restrooms with portable emergency contact devices. The ordinance took effect July 1, 2018. Hotel employers in Chicago should ensure compliance with the mandates of the ordinance as penalties may reach $500 for each offense. Each day a violation continues is deemed a new offense.
Continue Reading Hands Off-Pants On Ordinance In Effect in Chicago; California May Be Next
In Franchina v. City of Providence, 2018 WL 550511, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1919 (1st Cir., Jan. 25, 2018), the First Circuit offered no sympathy to the City in its appeal of a jury award that found the City’s fire department liable for tormenting a former lieutenant on the basis of her sex. The court’s sentiments were readily apparent from the outset of its opinion, which admittedly “decline[d] to put out flames of the Department’s own making.”
Harassment at the Firehouse
In the underlying trial, the plaintiff testified at length about the workplace harassment she experienced, which began after a superior filed a complaint on her behalf about another firefighter’s sexual misconduct toward her. Following the harassing firefighter’s discipline, the plaintiff was exposed to escalating verbal and physical mistreatment. The plaintiff’s colleagues referred to her in derogatory terms, physically assaulted her, gave her poisoned meals, refused to cooperate in providing emergency care at the peril of civilian lives, and once even flung the blood and brain matter of a suicide victim into her face. Despite awareness of these incidents, the Department failed to intervene. On these facts, the jury awarded the plaintiff front pay in the amount of $545,000 and a separate figure for emotional damages.
Continue Reading Sex + Discrimination = Liability, Says First Circuit
On October 2, 2017, the Chicago City Council Committee on Workplace Development and Audit approved an amendment to the Municipal Code (the “Ordinance”) that, if approved by the full City Council, will require hotel employers to equip hotel employees assigned to work in guestrooms or restrooms with portable emergency contact devices and develop and implement new anti-sexual harassment policies and procedures. The Ordinance is in response to multiple reports of sexual assault and harassment targeted at hotel employees by hotel guests.
Continue Reading Chicago City Council Committee Approves Hands Off-Pants On Ordinance to Protect Hotel Employees