Religious Discrimination

The basketball court isn’t the only place you’ll see interesting uniforms this month.  Many employers choose to implement and enforce their own uniform requirements and dress codes at work.  But if done incorrectly, uniforms or dress codes may reinforce stereotypical gender roles and put transgender employees and applicants in a very uncomfortable place.  In addition, some religious people in the workplace require exceptions to uniform requirements and dress codes in order to adhere to their beliefs.  There was even a hotly debated Supreme Court opinion a couple years ago about a religious headwear exception to an employer’s dress code.  These increasing changes in the law are forcing employers to take a time out to rethink their uniform and dress code strategies to make sure they do not travel out of bounds.


Continue Reading March A-Wear-Ness: Uniforms, Dress Codes, and Employee Choice

My colleague Tyrone Thomas, was quoted in the Bloomberg BNA article entitled Managing Bias Risks While Increasing Workplace Diversity in which he analyzes the threat of reverse racism claims arising from employer diversity efforts. Thomas notes that diversity strategies should be tailored to the workplace and provides steps for employers to develop well-crafted diversity plans. The article outlines examples of reverse bias claims, methods to avoid these risks, and employers’ options in implementing diversity strategies.

The Supreme Court recently held that job applicants may hold their potential employer liable for intentional discrimination under Title VII if the applicant can show that his or her need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the potential employer’s decision not to hire that applicant, and it is irrelevant whether the employer had actual knowledge of the need for the accommodation.  While the Court’s holding was relatively straightforward, its practical import presents additional challenges for employers.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds That Employers Do Not Need Actual Knowledge of an Applicant’s Need for a Religious Accommodation Before They Can Be Held Liable for Discrimination

If it can happen in the “Happiest Place on Earth”, then why can’t it happen at my office? That is a question many employers are asking themselves after a recent multi-state measles outbreak was linked to Disneyland in California.

Combined with the Ebola scare that saturated the 24-hour news cycle last fall and another nasty flu season in full swing, issues related to preventing the spread of infectious diseases in the workplace have started to gain increasing attention among HR departments across the nation. And in particular, with highly infectious diseases like measles and the flu, some employers are wondering whether employee-required vaccinations are the answer.

But whether you can require your employees to be vaccinated and whether you should are two different questions.  In this article for, I briefly explore both these questions.  Read the rest of the article here.

A case out of a New York State appeals court should remind employers that they may liable for discrimination where they take an adverse action against an employee based on the employee’s association with someone in a protected class.

Continue Reading Employers: Don’t Forget About the Possibility of Associational Discrimination Liability

Written by Michael Arnold

This summer’s FIFA World Cup was truly spectacular. I know this because I’ve been working in the same office building for years and not once has every one of the 10+ pubs located within a five-block radius been packed to the gills on a weekday afternoon for a sporting event. I know this because unfortunately I had to race back to said office building to attend to a work matter with the U.S. down 2-0 in extra time, and as I was headed back, I heard the loudest collective roar I’ve ever heard. There was such joy and excitement over the U.S.’s first goal in the 107th minute – it was a sound I’ll never forget.

I can’t tell you how many people said to me during the tournament, and especially after that game, “watch, you’ll see, soccer is now finally going to catch on in America.” To which I’d politely respond, “no, no, that’s just not going to happen; the World Cup is just an easy opportunity to show your patriotism through sports – something we are really good at, but like every other recent World Cup, we’ll just forget all about it ten seconds later.” Which, as predicted, is exactly what happened. Ask yourself: have you thought about the World Cup until you read this post?

Face it, futbol is a religion everywhere but in America.

Also claiming not to be a religion in America: “Onionhead.”

Continue Reading Employment Law Summer Recap 2014: Part 11 of 11 – GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL: the World Cup and Onionhead Capture America’s Attention…Briefly

Anyone who works frequently with employment counsel has heard the words “it depends” – it (the answer to a question) depends on the specific facts and circumstances at issue, which should be analyzed and discussed before a course of action is determined. 

Two recent cases illustrate this point.  Both cases arose out of similar, but not identical, situations.

Continue Reading Religious Discrimination or Legitimate Business Decision? It Depends.

We previously wrote about the EEOC’s increasingly aggressive position against inflexible leave of absence policies that provide for automatic termination of employment when an employee does not or cannot return to work at the end of a specified maximum leave period, such as when the employee has exhausted available FMLA leave.  We have also written about the public hearing held by the EEOC in June 2011, which discussed the use of extended leaves of absence as reasonable accommodation for a disability covered under the expansive Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act.  A new development suggests that employers may also need to consider the use of extended leaves of absence as accommodation for employees’ religious beliefs.

Continue Reading Leaves of Absence as Religious Accommodation

By Michael Arnold

The number of religious discrimination cases has risen steadily over the past decade.  This trend may continue, at least in New York City, well into the future.  On August 17, 2011, the New York City Council, NYC’s law-making body, passed Local Law Int. No. 632-A, which amended the NYC Human Rights Law – already one of the strongest in the nation – to provide increased protections against religious discrimination.


Continue Reading New York City Council Expands Human Rights Law