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Archives for June 2015

Losing My Religion

Jon Allison

Monday Blog

Earlier this month NPR ran a story on the growing number of Religious “Nones” (persons who do not identify with any religion) and the political implications of the growth of that group.  NPR reported in the story that this group is growing rapidly.  Religious “nones” include atheists, agnostics and people who report they just don’t belong to any religion in particular.  From 2007 to 2014 the adult population of “nones” increased by over 50%.  Of those born from 1928 to 1945, 11% are “nones.”  Of those born from 1946 to 1964 (baby boomers), it is 17%.  23% of those born from 1965 to 1980 (Gen. Xers) are “nones.”  34% of Old Millennials (born 1981 to 1989) and 36% of New Millennials (born 1990 to 1996) are “nones.”  From an employment lawyer’s perspective, it will be interesting to see the impact of this trend on employment claims.  As more and more “nones” take on management and decision making roles in organizations, will they be more or less tolerant of employees’ and applicants’ religious practices?  Will there be an increase or decrease in religious discrimination claims by employees who practice a particular religion.  As their numbers grow will there be an increase in religious discrimination claims by “nones” who say they are being discriminated against for being atheist or agnostic?  What about the impact of the growth of this group on equal employment opportunity in general?  Looks like we may be finding out sooner rather than later.
The NPR story is linked here . . .

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Inside Job

Jon Allison

Monday Blog
Last week a group of four former store detectives filed a class-action lawsuit against CVS alleging that it directed them to racially profile African-American and Hispanic customers and then retaliated against the detectives when they complained that the practice was discriminatory.  The plaintiffs say that two loss-prevention supervisors for the Manhattan and Queens store locations on a regular basis told the detectives to profile African-American and Hispanic customers because they were the ones who were always the thieves.  After complaining to superiors, the plaintiffs say they were subjected to false criticism of their performance.  Three of the plaintiffs were then terminated earlier this year while one was terminated before that.  One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs said that, while there have been profiling cases filed by customers, “this is the first time a group of employees has banded together to provide an inside account and expose the blatant racial profiling policy at one of the largest retailers in the world.”
Find more information here.

The Expectation That Dads Prioritize Work
Josh Levs was the fatherhood reporter for CNN in the summer of 2013 when his wife gave birth prematurely while suffering from a severe pregnancy complication.  Months prior to the premature birth of his daughter he had requested 10 weeks of paid leave.  At the time CNN offered 10 weeks of paid leave under CNN’s leave policies.  He found out that the 10 weeks of leave only applied to men in cases of adoption or a surrogate birth.  He asked if CNN would change the policy.  He was told no 11 days after the premature birth of his daughter.  Instead, when his family needed him most, he got 2 weeks of leave which was at that point used up.  He filed an EEOC complaint which is not yet resolved.  CNN has, however, changed its policy.  Read this article for more details.

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Blog Update: Supreme Court Issues Decision On Religious Accomodation

Jon Allison

On Monday the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Samantha Elauf/Abercrombie & Fitch case ruling in favor of Elauf.  The Court held “Title VII forbids adverse employment decisions made with a forbidden motive, whether this motive derives from actual knowledge, a well-founded suspicion or merely a hunch.”  Abercrombie denied Elauf employment because she wore a headscarf to her interview that Abercrombie says conflicted with its dress code.  But Abercrombie did not tell Elauf of the dress code during the interview so Elauf did not know to request a religious accommodation allowing her to wear it.  Abercrombie then argued that Elauf never brought it up, so Abercrombie should be off the hook.  The Supreme Court found that Abercrombie at least suspected that Elauf wore the headscarf for religious reasons and it could have easily offered her the accommodation of allowing her to wear it.  This case makes it clear that employers can’t just put their head in the sand when it appears an applicant may request a religious accommodation.

This is an update on Jon’s original blog post from March 2, 2015 titled We Don’t Allow Hats. You Got A Problem With That? .  Click on the title to read the original post.

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Egregious Sexual Harassment And Retaliation Condoned At Arizona State Mental Hospital

Jon Allison

Monday Blog
A security officer for Arizona State Mental Hospital was sexually harassed for years and retaliated against after making numerous complaints about the harassment.
Beginning in 2009, the victim was subjected to a work environment permeated by unwelcome, offensive sexual remarks, sexual messages, pornographic text videos and aggressive physical contacts and gestures.
For example, one of her supervisors, Sergeant Moreno, sent a series of inappropriate telephonic communications, including pornographic videos of group anal sex.  He also sent pictures of himself and asked the victim to send back pictures of herself.  He repeatedly asked to kiss her, violently bumped into her, invaded her personal space and touched her inappropriately.
She complained in November 2009 and a number of times after that to her superiors and human resources personnel.  She asked that Moreno be directed to stay away from her or be transferred.  Instead, he remained her supervisor and retaliated.  Other supervisors and employees were complicit in the harassment and retaliation.
The victim was subjected to unwarranted discipline, less desirable job assignments and verbal and physical intimidation.  One hospital employee even told the victim there would be a hit put out on her for her complaints.
The victim filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April and July 2010.  After investigating, the EEOC found in 2011 that the victim had been sexually harassed and retaliated against.  Still, nothing changed.  In fact, Moreno continued to supervise the victim.
A federal lawsuit was filed in 2012.  Finally, after years of internal and external complaints, egregious sexual harassment and retaliation, the state settled the case for $250,000 plus legal fees.  Moreno was terminated, but not for sexual harassment.  Rather, he was terminated for downloading pornography at work and other misconduct unrelated to the sexual harassment.
When the state was asked for any documents related to any investigation into the victim’s numerous complaints over the years, the response was they couldn’t locate anything.  A number of high ranking officials were placed on administrative leave, including the health department director, state hospital CEO and the health department’s lead attorney.  Read more here.

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