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First Lawsuits Asserting Sexual Orientation Discrimination Filed By EEOC

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the first two lawsuits it has ever filed taking the position that sexual orientation discrimination is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division.
In EEOC v. Scott Medical Health Center, the EEOC is alleging that a gay male employee was subjected to harassment because of his sexual orientation when his manager repeatedly referred to him using a number of anti-gay epithets and made offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life. When the employee complained to a supervisor the supervisor said the harasser was just doing his job. The supervisor refused to take any action to stop the harassment. After weeks of harassment, the employee resigned.
In EEOC v IFCO systems, the EEOC is alleging that a lesbian employee was harassed by her boss because of her sexual orientation. The employee’s boss made numerous offensive comments and sexually suggestive gestures. The employee complained to management and called the employee hotline. Days later she was fired.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination because of sex. As the federal law enforcement agency charged with interpreting Title VII, the EEOC has concluded that harassment and other discrimination because of sexual orientation is prohibited sex discrimination. We’ll see how these lawsuits play out.
EEOC Files First Suits Challenging Sexual Orientation …

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Judges Face Age Discrimination Too

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Judge Peter O’Connell (67 years of age) filed a lawsuit last week in Michigan challenging a Michigan rule that prevents judges 70 years of age or over from running for re-election. The age restriction was put in place in 1955. In 2014, the age restriction prevented 24 Michigan judges from seeking re-election (4% of sitting judges were 70 or older at the time). Currently, judges are the only state employees with an age restriction in Michigan. Last year two joint resolutions were introduced in the State Legislature (one in the House and one in the Senate) that would allow voters to either raise the age restriction to 75 or remove it completely. The Michigan Judges Association supports the removal of the age restriction entirely. The reality is people are living longer and are able to be productive later in life. Age restrictions like this just don’t make sense.  Find out more here.

 

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A New Rule To Address The Pay Gap

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week President Obama proposed a new rule which would require companies with more than 100 employees to provide salary data by race, gender and ethnicity.  Despite efforts to address the problem, a substantial pay gap between men and women (minority women in particular) remains.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission already collects data from larger employers about the racial, ethnic and gender makeup of their workforces.  Collecting pay data will assist in the enforcement of equal pay laws.

 To Shine A Light On Salary Gaps, Obama Wants Companies To Disclose Pay Data

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Social Media Profiles And Muslim Job Applicants

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Two researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently conducted a study on the use of social media in hiring decisions and found a negative impact on those belonging to the Muslim faith.

The researchers created Facebook profiles for fictional job applicants making them similar in almost every way with the exception of information indicating religious affiliation. The fictional individuals were either Christian or Muslim. The researchers then sent out applications to more than 4,000 employers. There was no indication of religion affiliation in the application materials. The employers had to search the social media profiles of the applicants to obtain that information.

According to the study approximately 33% of employers looked at the applicants’ social media profiles. In more politically conservative areas of the country there was a significant difference in offers for an interview between Christian and Muslim applicants. In the 10 most politically conservative states, 17% of Christian applicants received offers for interviews compared to 2% of Muslim candidates.

Notably, the researchers also looked for any differences in the interview offer rate between gay and straight individuals and found no statistically significant difference.

Discrimination on the basis of religion in hiring decisions is illegal. Studies, including this one, show that it happens. Employers need to be challenged on their hiring practices. Job applicants should be aware of their social media profiles and the fact that prospective employers may look at those profiles before making hiring decisions. If you think you’ve been the victim of discrimination, you should consult a lawyer.

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Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Law Banning Employment Due To Criminal Record

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week, just before the New Year, the Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania found unconstitutional a law that banned those convicted of crimes from ever working at nursing homes or long-term-care facilities. The Older Adults Protective Services Act specifically prevented anyone who had been convicted of any crime, no matter how long ago, from ever being employed full-time at a nursing home or long-term-care facility. The Court unanimously ruled that the law violated the due process rights of law abiding citizens who had been in trouble in many cases several decades earlier. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit had convictions between 15 and 35 years prior for drug possession, writing bad checks, disorderly conduct, assault and theft. All of them had clean records since their convictions. Many had, in addition to being prevented from finding work, been fired from multiple jobs due to their criminal records.  Find more information in this NPR article.

 

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