Harassment Claim Based On Offensive Music Given New Life

Can an employer be liable for workplace harassment resulting from music with sexually graphic lyrics when both women and men find the music offensive?  Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals answered that question with a resounding “yes.”  Sharp v. S&S Activewear, L.L.C., No. 21-17138 (9th Cir. June 7, 2023).  The court had little trouble reversing the trial court’s decision that because employees of both sexes found the music...
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DOL Releases Revised Mandatory FMLA and FLSA Posters

The DOL has revised its Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) posters.  Employers will need to update these postings to remain in compliance with their obligations under these laws. FMLA Poster. Employers who are covered by the FMLA (i.e., private employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, as well as public agencies regardless of employee count) are required to display the DOL poster that...
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More DOL Guidance On The PUMP Act

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
06/06/2023
In this third blog post on the PUMP Act (my earlier posts can be read here), I share the key takeaways from the Department of Labor's (DOL) recently released Field Assistance Bulletin that provides additional clarification on how this new law is to be applied. As a reminder, the PUMP Act (the Act) expands lactation protections for nursing mothers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, in that employers are required to provide nursing mothers with a...
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Union Misconduct During A Strike May Result In State Court Liability

Peter Saucier
Peter Saucier
06/01/2023
Decades ago, the Supreme Court interpreted the National Labor Relations Act to afford unions and strikers special immunity from state court liability for damages resulting from a strike. Named after a 1959 Supreme Court decision, that so-called Garmon exemption doctrine, in the words of the Supreme Court, “tells us not just what law applies (federal law, not state law) but who applies it (the National Labor Relations Board, not the state courts or...
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The New Jersey Law Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use Does Not Permit Workers To Sue Their Employers For Job Discrimination

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
06/01/2023
In January 2022, Eric Zanetich applied for a job in Walmart’s Asset Protection Department.  He was offered the job subject to submitting to and passing a drug test.  Zanetich alleged that Walmart’s Drug & Alcohol Policy stated, “any applicant or associate who tests positive for illegal drug use may be ineligible for employment.”  Zanetich took a drug test.  He tested positive for marijuana, and the job offer was rescinded. Zanetich...
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NLRB General Counsel Says Non-Competes Usually Violate The NLRA

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
05/31/2023
First confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions in severance agreements were declared unlawful, and now Jennifer Abruzzo, General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, has taken the same view of most non-compete agreements. On May 30, 2023, the General Counsel issued an advisory memo detailing her view that non-compete provisions in employment contracts “interfere with employees’ exercise of rights under Section 7 of the...
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The Difference Between Race and Racism

You may recall an event in Central Park in mid-2020 that involved a woman who called the police when she encountered a birdwatcher.  The birdwatcher was Black.  The woman was white.   Video of the incident went viral.  I’ll spare you the link, but it’s still available (isn’t everything) with a quick search of “Central Park Karen,” as the incident became known. Amy Cooper was walking with her dog off leash in the Bramble, which is...
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EEOC Releases Advice on Artificial Intelligence and Title VII

Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson
05/23/2023
On May 18, 2023, the EEOC released a technical assistance document, “Assessing Adverse Impact in Software, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence Used in Employment Selection Procedures Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”   This document offers advice on the use of algorithmic decision-making tools that employers are more often using for recruitment, promotion and firing.  The document also attempts to distinguish between...
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Pronouns Present Problems? Please.

I (he/him) grew up in a small farm town in Western New York.  I represent a number of institutions of higher education, as well as a number of faith-based non-profits.  So, when an article was printed in last Friday’s New York Times that merged those things together?  That’s like chocolate and peanut butter; it got my attention.  This blog looks at reports of the recent firing of two employees at Houghton University.  At this point it is...
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Second Circuit Turns Down Employee’s Claim of Wrongful Termination for Refusal to Attend LGBTQ Bias Training Session

A recent case from the Second Circuit illustrates the growing tension between religious discrimination claims and protection of LGBTQ rights under Title VII.  In Zdunski v. Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision granting summary judgment against an employee who alleged that, by being forced to attend mandatory LGBTQ  anti-discrimination trainings, he was subject to religious discrimination. The...
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