Welcome (almost) to the New Year: a time of renewal, a fresh start, a clean slate, and a time to make and hopefully keep resolutions. A “New Year’s Resolution” is, of course, a commitment in the coming year to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a goal or otherwise make a material improvement.

Toward this end, we thought it appropriate to launch a mini-series of some compliance-related resolutions employers might consider for 2018. In fact, we can’t think of a better way to close out 2017 than with a series devoted to a collective resolution to make 2018 a year devoted to cleaning out the cobwebs and achieving (better) employment law compliance.

We recognize, given the complexity of our legal landscape and the challenges of managing human relationships in the workplace, complete employment compliance is a worthy but perhaps unattainable goal. But that doesn’t mean 2018 can’t begin on the right foot.

We thought it appropriate to start our resolutions mini-series with this headline: Don’t let your workplace BE the next headline.

Continue Reading An Employer’s Resolutions for the New Year – A Mini-Series from the Employment Matters Blog. Resolution #1: Don’t let your Workplace be the Next Headline: Review and Refresh your Non-Harassment Policies and Training.

My colleague David Barmak, was quoted in a SHRM article entitled, Justices Question Whether EEOC Should Pay $4.7M in Attorney Fees, in which he examines the potential advantages for employers if the EEOC is required to reimburse a trucking company for legal fees incurred in connection with a sexual harassment lawsuit.  The article outlines the nature of the suit, the grounds for its dismissal and the nuances of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court’s initial decision to reverse the award of fees.

 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a series of bills entitled the “Women’s Equality Agenda” that significantly amend the State’s equal pay, sex discrimination, harassment and other laws to provide additional protections for women in and outside the workplace. Among other changes, the amendments broaden the definition of “equal work” for equal pay, add “familial” status as a protected class, require employers to accommodate pregnant workers, authorize treble damages for willful violations, provide sex discrimination plaintiffs with a new right to attorneys’ fees and apply the law’s prohibition on sexual harassment to all employers regardless of size.  The amendments, which we briefly summarize below, take effect on January 19, 2016.

Continue Reading New York State Employers Face Strict New Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Laws

The New York City Human Rights Law specifically says that an employer’s agent can be held liable for discrimination, but its liability provision doesn’t address the circumstances under which that agent may be held liable for the discriminatory actions of the agent’s employee.  A New York Federal Court has now addressed this gap in the law.

Continue Reading New York Federal Court Applies New York City Human Rights Law’s Liability Provision to Employer’s Agent

In Aguas v. State of New Jersey, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently adopted an affirmative defense—available under federal law since 1998—allowing employers to use their anti-harassment policies to limit vicarious liability under the New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to the employer for a supervisor’s harassment.  At the same time, however, the Court adopted the more expansive definition of “supervisor” used by the EEOC as opposed to the narrower definition adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.

Continue Reading You Take the Good, You Take the Bad: NJ High Court Offers Employers Avenue to Limit Vicarious Liability in Harassment Suits; But Broadens Definition of “Supervisor”

Written by Gauri Punjabi and Michael Arnold

In a case of first impression, the First Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that an employer can be held liable under Title VII for quid pro quo sexual harassment based on the discriminatory actions of a non-supervisory employee where the employer knew or should have known of the employee’s discriminatory actions.

Continue Reading First Circuit Court of Appeals Holds That Employer Can be Found Liable Under Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Negligence Theory for Discriminatory Actions of Co-worker

Written by Gregory Bennett

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed an order of summary judgment for JetBlue Airways Corp. on a former employee’s sexual harassment claim in Gorzynski v. JetBlue Airways Corp. This decision underscores the importance of employers ensuring that the avenues available to employees to complain about discrimination and harassment are not only set forth in a policy, but are effective, in fact.


Continue Reading 2d Circuit Ruling Gives Employers Additional Incentive to Ensure Their Complaint Channels Remain Open and Are Effective in Fact