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Archives for December 2014

A Catholic University Is Training That Criticism of Gay Marriage May Be Illegal

Randy Freking

Given the Roman Catholic Church’s position opposing gay marriage, it is interesting that at least one Catholic university is taking a different position.

Marquette University, a Catholic university in Milwaukee, recently conducted an anti-harassment training session during which employees were encouraged to report anyone they hear criticizing gay marriage to the school’s Human Resources Department.  A spokesperson stated that the “teaching tools” presented in the training “do not necessarily equate to University policy” and that harassment cases “would be reviewed on an individual bases.”

Marquette had earlier made headlines after an instructor told a student in her graduate ethics class that the student “did not have the right” to make comments criticizing gay marriage in the classroom.

In the same sex training session, a fictional employee overheard his co-workers talk about their opposition to same-sex marriage all week.  According to the presentation, the employee should report the conversation even if the co-workers were only expressing their opinions and did not mean to offend anyone.  According to the presentation, the co-workers could still be engaging in unlawful harassment.

The training also stated that the person hearing the offensive remarks does not need to be involved in the conversation and that the listener’s sexual orientation is also irrelevant.  The presenters stated that the listener does not “need to be gay” to be offended by his co-worker’s discussion of same-sex marriage.

Read more here.

 

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UPS Changes Pregnancy Policy, But Still Defends Old Policy

Randy Freking

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday, December 3, in Young v. UPS. The case involves the issue of whether UPS was required to accommodate a 20 pound lifting restriction for one of its drivers who became pregnant in 2006.

The irony of the case is that UPS has announced that, effective in January, 2015, it will change its policy and provide accommodations for pregnant workers. Quite a noble act: patting itself on the back for being more progressive than most employers, while simultaneously defending those less progressive employers’ right to discriminate against pregnant employees.

In our view, taking harsh stances against classes of employees – like pregnant women – is short sighted and counterproductive. Rather than treat people fairly, employers sometimes defend policies that alienate a large segment of their most valuable assets – their workers – without considering the negative message they are sending. The message to UPS’ workers from Ms. Young’s case: “UPS reserves the right to be unfair if UPS can somehow find a way to argue that what we are doing is legal.” A better message would be: “We’ll be fair to our employees.”

Read more here.

 

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WVXU Cincinnati Commemorates 50th Anniversary of The Civil Rights Act

Carrie Barron

Freking & Betz attorneys Jon Allison and Carrie Atkins Barron will join Judge Nathaniel R. Jones, retired judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and former General Counsel of the NAACP, for a panel discussion to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on WVXU’s Cincinnati Edition Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.

Fifty years ago this past July, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. During the signing ceremony the president called it a way for America to honor its promise of liberty: “This Civil Rights Act is a challenge to all of us to go to work in our communities and our states, in our homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country.”

Tune into 91.7 WVXU at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3rd to hear about the history of the Civil Rights Act, its road to passage, its impact on public accommodations, education, and employment, among other areas, as well as a discussion of where we are today in light of the Act. If you can’t tune in for the live conversation, go to WVXU’s home page at wvxu.org for a link to the podcast.

 

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