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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Arbitration Can Resolve Discrimination Claims

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Employers and their lawyers have long argued that it’s possible for an employer and its employees to agree to use arbitration or some type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program to resolve discrimination claims. The countervailing argument has been that since discrimination claims are based on statutes, there can be no such agreement, because an employee must be allowed to litigate any statutory right in court.

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Layoffs and Pregnancy Discrimination

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Can you lay off a pregnant employee or an employee on maternity leave without being guilty of pregnancy or sex discrimination? Of course. As long as you don’t use pregnancy as a factor in making the decision, you’ve done nothing unlawful. According to the New York Times, however, there’s growing suspicion that employers are using the economy as a cover for pregnancy discrimination.

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Odds and Ends

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Kudos to fellow bloggers who continue to turn out a plethora of timely, diverse, insightful, and downright interesting posts:

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Layoffs, Lawyers, and Lawsuits

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I’ve done a number of posts on why employers shouldn’t use layoffs as their first answer to economic hard times. (Click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.) A recent New York Times headline suggests yet another reason: “Layoffs Herald a Heyday for Employee Lawsuits.” And in case you haven’t heard, lawyers are being laid off, too. So, you have a lot of people out of work, and you have a lot of lawyers looking for work. Yep, there will be a lot of employee lawsuits.

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Another View of Fair Pay Act

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When President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, I did a post concerning the new law. This post included links to previous posts I had done. The Fair Pay Act had been floating around for some time, so much had been written about it before it became law, and much has certainly been written since President Obama signed the Act.

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Avoiding Employment Lawsuits — Tip of the Week

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Here are six tips on this subject courtesy of Jon Hyman. All are good and will give you plenty of food for thought.


Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Signed into Law by President

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As reported by the Wall Street Journal, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law today. For two previous posts about this law, click here and here.

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New Supreme Court Retaliation Case

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Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employee can’t be retaliated against for opposing discrimination or harassment or for participating in an investigation about alleged discrimination or harassment. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that this means more than some lower courts had thought.

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The Christmas Wars: Religious Discrimination and Accommodation

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Just when it seemed “The Christmas Wars” were cooling, a religious discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stoked the fiery chasm separating the politically correct from the Christian faithful. Simply put, which is it: ”Happy Holidays” or ”Merry Christmas”?

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Record Number of Charges Filed with EEOC in Fiscal 2008

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As reported in The Laconic Law Blog, a record number of charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the agency’s fiscal year 2008. Check out the EEOC’s report referenced in The Laconic Law Blog for more information.


Impact of Presidential Politics on Employment Law Issues — One Final Look

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This election is important for a lot of reasons. One reason it’s important has been completely below the radar during the entire campaign, and that reason is its impact on labor and employment law. It’s been a long time since an election will have as much impact on this area of the law and, thus, on the way employers do business and deal with their employees.

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Refusal to Accommodate Muslim Prayer at Work: Religious Discrimination?

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You have 1,200 employees, 25% of whom are Muslim Somalis. They request a short break at sunset to pray, as they are required to do. Sunset is in the middle of the second shift when most employees are working on a fast-moving, potentially dangerous assembly line. Granting the Muslim employees’ request could endanger other employees’ safety and shutting down the line for even five minutes would be disruptive and costly. What do you do?

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Questions About ADA Amendments Act

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Two blogs I regularly check out are Execupundit and Eclecticity. Both commented on my post last week about the recently enacted ADA Amendments Act (which becomes effective on January 1, 2009).

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ADA Amendments Act: Wow!

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Now that the dust has settled a bit after the astonishingly easy enactment of the ADA Amendments Act, let’s take an in depth look at this add-on to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It doesn’t become effective until January 1, 2009, but you’ll need as much time as you can find to get ready for its impact.

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A New Day for Religious Discrimination?

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Not long ago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a new compliance manual section on religious discrimination in the workplace.  Part of the new section includes a “best practices” booklet.  In its press release about the new section, the EEOC said it was issuing this in response to an increase in charges of religious discrimination, increased religious diversity in the U.S., and requests for guidance from employers and agency investigators.  It didn’t say that this new section represented a change in the EEOC’s position on religious discrimination, and most folks who’ve commented on it haven’t found anything groundbreaking about it–just something generally helpful.  After reviewing the section a couple of times, I think we may have missed something groundbreaking.  So, The Word is going in-depth on this post.More...

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EEOC on Religious Discrimination

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Dan Schwartz, who hosts the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, gives us an update about a new compliance manual section on religious discrimination released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Check out Dan’s blog for a helpful summary.


Retaliation Against Friends and Relatives

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If an employee files a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and you fire her shortly thereafter, you run the risk of also being accused of retaliation.  What if you fire the exployee’s fiancee?  Can he accuse you of retaliation and file his own charge with the EEOC?

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Real Life Sex Harassment?

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There’s a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch about a sexual harassment matter that some would say is all too common.  In other words, this sort of thing happens every day–not only the alleged sexual harassment but the way it was handled or not handled.  Whether the underlying complaint is true or not, the article is an interesting read and provides real life lessons.

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More on Diversity–English-Only Rules

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Another thing raised by this week’s cartoon is the issue of language in the workplace–specifically whether an employer can have an English-only rule for a workplace. Until the U. S. Supreme Court decides this issue, we won’t know the answer. There is, however, no shortage of opinions on this issue.

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Supreme Court Decides “Charge” Case

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The U. S. Supreme Court has decided another one of its employment cases.  This one (Federal Express v. Holowecki) does provide somewhat more excitement than the one it decided yesterday.  Although Fed Ex loses this case filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Court settles a long-standing question with a bit more clarity than was present in yesterday’s decision (although I’ll concede that’s a debatable point).

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