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Total Articles: 83

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Files Sexual Harassment Suits Across the US

This summer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the federal watch dog for federal employment discrimination statutes, filed seven sexual harassment lawsuits against companies across the United States. Another likely response to the #MeToo movement. Despite the change in Administrations, the watch dog agencies are still at work!

PODCAST: #MeToo One Year Later: An Update for Employers

Join Milwaukee attorneys Sarah Platt and Christine Bestor Townsend as they discuss how things have changed for employers in the era of #MeToo.

#MeToo: The Tweet Heard ’Round the World One Year Later

One year ago today, 10 days after the Harvey Weinstein story broke, Alyssa Milano tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

Workplace Sexual Harassment Prevention: One Year After #MeToo

The #MeToo movement has just celebrated its first anniversary after a year marked by a host of high-profile resignations and terminations across a number of industries.

EEOC FY2018 Filings Report Reflects #MeToo Impact

A review of FY2018 filings by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) showed a large jump in the number of lawsuits filed, especially for sexual harassment cases. The preliminary findings of Seyfarth Shaw's annual EEOC filing report indicate that the agency has increased its litigation efforts, despite being short two commissioners and with its General Counsel position still unfilled.

Is A Smartphone The Answer To Employers’ Sexual Harassment Reporting Problems?

As employers grapple with the #MeToo movement, they are looking for new ways to encourage employees to report harassment allegations. Although employees are feeling more emboldened than ever to speak out, we have learned from the #MeToo movement that many times employees still will not speak up for fear of discharge or retaliation by their employer or co-workers. In an effort to remedy this problem, several different groups have created applications for employees to anonymously report harassment claims.

#MeToo Claims Hit Foreign Sovereign Employers in the U.S.

Accusations of harassment against Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby and now even Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, among many others, over the past year underscore one thing: No one, whether he or she is a prominent politician, corporate CEO, judge, famous entertainer, ambassador or consul general, is immune from the adverse publicity, if not liability, that follows once harassment claims are made.

Dallas Mavericks Investigation Report Recommends Women in Leadership and Anonymous Workplace Climate Surveys to Combat Sexual Harassment

Following a February 2018 Sports Illustrated article regarding alleged sexual harassment and misconduct within Dallas Basketball Limited, the Dallas Mavericks basketball organization (“Mavericks”), the Mavericks commissioned an independent investigation into the claims. The investigators, comprised of two outside law firms, interviewed 215 witnesses and analyzed 1.6 million documents. The investigation report was publicly released on September 19, 2018.

Recent Enforcement Activity Signals Increased EEOC Focus on Harassment

In the latest sign of an increased emphasis on harassment, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced filing seven lawsuits against various employers charging them with harassment. Five of these claims involved alleged sexual harassment, two alleged racial harassment, and one also included a claim of harassment based on national origin.

No Tax Deduction for Sexual Harassment Settlements Subject to Confidentiality Provision

Congress recently passed the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act which includes Internal Revenue Code §162(q). Specifically

Scandals Continue Casting Spotlight on Sexual Harassment

CBS Chief Les Moonves has become the latest high-profile executive accused of harassment in the #MeToo era and surely won’t be the last. Six women have accused him of sexual harassment or misconduct from the 1980s to the 2000s. But give Late Show host Stephen Colbert credit for taking time during an opening monologue to address the controversy surrounding Moonves, the man who hired him, head on.

EEOC's Select Task Force On Harassment: Transforming #MeToo Into A Mandate For A Harassment-Free Workplace

The #MeToo movement continues to provide traction for the crack-down on workplace harassment. On June 11, 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reconvened its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. If you think this is just for show, all indications are that you are wrong.

The Sexual Harassment Problem in the Food and Hospitality Industries

Imagine that your employee comes to you and tells you that a few days ago when she was helping a busboy change out the kegs in the basement, he groped her.

House Members Introduce Bipartisan Anti-Harassment Legislation

On July 17, 2018, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers—Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ted Poe (R-TX), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) —introduced legislation targeting workplace harassment. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a companion bill in the Senate last month. The Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace harassment through Education and Reporting (EMPOWER) Act (H.R. 6406, S. 2994) would, among other obligations, ban nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreements related to harassment as a condition of employment or receipt of employment-related benefits, and would require certain public disclosures. This federal bill comes on the heels of several state-level proposals stemming from the #MeToo movement.

EEOC Fights to Keep #MeToo Movement Alive

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sometimes chooses to file a lawsuit against an employer, on an employee’s behalf, after investigation of a charge of discrimination. Typically, the EEOC chooses to litigate only a very small percentage of all charges filed. In this past June alone, however, the commission filed eight lawsuits alleging sexual harassment against employers, thus perpetuating the #MeToo movement.

#MeToo at Home and Abroad

The news that Harvey Weinstein was indicted on July 2 on additional criminal charges, one of which (predatory sexual assault) carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, makes clear that the #MeToo movement and its influence on the workplace and our culture will not abate any time soon.

Reexamining Reasonableness: What Employers Should Know About the Third Circuit’s Take on the Faragher-Ellerth Defense

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in Minarsky v. Susquehanna County, No. 17-2646 (July 3, 2018). The decision, which vacated the entry of summary judgment in favor of an employer that had asserted the Faragher-Ellerth defense to a sexual harassment claim based upon a hostile work environment, provides some important lessons for employers.

Investigations in the #MeToo Environment: The Importance of Planning Before A Harassment Complaint

Jennifer Youpa, a shareholder in Littler’s Dallas office, and Kevin O’Neill, Senior Director of Littler’s Learning Group, discuss the importance of harassment complaint investigations in the #MeToo climate. As Jennifer and Kevin explain, investigatory responses can no longer be “one size fits all,” especially with the possibility of the viral disclosure of allegations or incidents through social media. In this podcast, Jennifer and Kevin reveal strategies and trends they have seen as they conduct training for employers on sexual harassment and related issues. They address the need for employers to plan various investigatory protocols well ahead of any complaints and how organizations can assess whether an external investigator may be beneficial.

Analyzing the EEOC's Response to the #MeToo Movement

Since the #MeToo movement began in fall 2017, many have wondered how it will affect both the volume and direction of sexual misconduct litigation around the country. It seems that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is trying to determine the same — indicated both through the commission's recent statements analyzing its own workload and by the reconvening of the Obama-era Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

Effective Sexual Harassment Training in the #MeToo Era

Yesterday’s anti-harassment training won’t cut it in the #MeToo era. Employers must take stock of steps they have taken to prevent and stop sexual harassment in the workplace, and identify how they will answer the clear call for truly effective anti-harassment training.

Sexual Harassment Prevention: Planning for a Post-#MeToo Workplace

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are going strong.

House Bill Introduced to Address Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Transportation Industry

Executive Summary: A proposed new law called “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act” takes aim at sexual assault and harassment in the airline industry.

Survey Says: Employers Have Heightened Concern With Sexual Harassment in 2018

Sexual harassment policies and training will remain a concern to many employers in 2018, according to a recent XpertHR survey. The survey revealed that employers plan to tackle the issue in a variety of ways, including:

Harassment by Emojis: Leaving Employers at a Loss for Words

As many employers are attempting to navigate the #MeToo movement and cultural changes surrounding sexual harassment claims, they now face another legal issue on the harassment horizon: how to address harassment allegations involving wordless communications—namely, emojis. Workplace harassment claims regarding emojis are increasing at a significant rate and leaving employers scratching their heads.

HR Intel: Sexual Harassment 2.0 – Now Comes the Harder Part

The fall of 2017 may forever be remembered for launching the #metoo movement as bombshell sexual harassment claims against big names arose seemingly every other day.

States Ask Congress To Prohibit Arbitration In Sex Harassment Claims

A unanimous block of attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, not to mention several U.S. territories, sent a letter to Congress yesterday asking federal lawmakers to prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration agreements when it comes to claims of sexual harassment. If Congress responds by passing legislation as requested, employers would need to adjust to a new reality that would have significant implications on human resources practices and employment litigation.

A New Valentine’s Day Conundrum for Employers: Could Emoji Messages Amount to Harassment in the #MeToo Era?

It’s Valentine’s Day yet again, but this year the climate is different for employers. Between the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and the near-daily collapse of famous and powerful men (and some women) due to allegations of sexual harassment, employers are on high alert for any sign that sexual misconduct could be going on underneath their noses. While the holiday season usually brings the most challenges for human resources professionals trying to ensure holiday parties do not get out of hand and religious accommodation issues are properly handled, another holiday causes heartburn for many: Valentine’s Day.

Workplace Sexual Harassment: More HR Guidance Needed

Christine Howard’s article “Workplace Sexual Harassment: More HR Guidance Needed” was featured in Risk Management Monitor. Smart employers are planning and training now to reduce sexual harassment to mitigate risk, and therefore, potential damage claims affecting executives and employees across employer ranks.

Congress May Soon Provide Sexual Harassment Coverage For Gig Workers

Last week was a big week when it comes to shining the spotlight on sexual harassment in the gig economy arena. On Thursday, Nathan Heller wrote a piece for the New Yorker that garnered a lot of attention entitled, “The Gig Economy Is Especially Susceptible to Sexual Harassment.”

New Tax Law, and Other Potential Reforms, May Change How Harassment Claims Are Resolved

Bruce Sarchet and Corinn Jackson, both with Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute, discuss how the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects the terms of settlement agreements used for sexual harassment claims. They address how the new law alters business expense tax deductions related to such settlements. They also review several additional federal and state initiatives that would curtail the use of nondisclosure or arbitration agreements in the harassment context.

Superstar Sexual Harassment Revelations Roil the Workplace

It’s been three months since the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment news broke, but the bombshell revelations involving big names keep on coming. From Charlie Rose to Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Peter Martins and too many others to mention, the superstar sexual harassment issue isn’t going away any time soon.

Another Employer Deduction Bites the Dust

You have probably heard about the many tax deductions that you are losing (or have lost) as a result of the new tax law (known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA). But, if you are an employer, one that you may not have heard about – or may not have had reason to hear about – is loss of the Federal income tax deduction for amounts paid in settlement of claims relating to sexual harassment and/or sexual abuse, as well as attorneys’ fees paid with respect to any such settlement or payment, if the settlement or payment is subject to a nondisclosure agreement.

“It’s the Culture, Stupid”: Transforming Today’s Sex Scandals into Tomorrow’s Strides for Women at Work

It’s 2018, but the sexual harassment scandals and #MeToo movement that closed out 2017 are sure to shape the year – and years – ahead. From Hollywood Boulevard to Main Street, USA, no industry has been spared. But for all the turmoil that business leaders are either witnessing or enduring, they may have an opportunity to seize this moment and establish a dramatically new normal.

Lawmakers Take Aim: Will #MeToo Curb Nondisclosure or Arbitration Agreements?

In 2017, the #MeToo movement highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, toppling prominent figures in numerous fields. Sexual harassment has been unlawful for decades, of course, yet this vexing problem remains.1 In the wake of #MeToo, federal and state lawmakers are searching for new ways to complement existing antidiscrimination laws and help eliminate harassment. Although it may take several months for definite trends to solidify, this article identifies some legislative approaches we may see in 2018.

Confidential Sexual Harassment Settlements No Longer Tax Deductible

The tax law signed by President Trump on December 22, 2017, does not only change tax brackets and rates—it also reflects changes brought in the aftermath of many highly publicized sexual harassment scandals. Effective upon signing, the new tax law has eliminated businesses’ ability to deduct the costs to settle allegations of sexual harassment or sexual abuse when the settlement requires confidentiality, which is a standard settlement term.

Sexual Harassment Allegations Fell Powerful 9th Circuit Judge

Sexual harassment claims have ended the judicial career of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski, who once served as chief judge of the San Francisco-based circuit. On December 18, Judge Kozinski retired effective immediately.

Should Employers Rethink Traditional Sexual Harassment Prevention Strategies?

No one is safe from sexual harassment accusations it seems, as many powerful individuals in entertainment, media and politics have recently learned. The floodgates have opened, and it doesn’t appear that the tide is slowing down anytime soon. But it’s not just Hollywood or Washington that is at risk. That’s why this marks the first in a series of posts about workplace sexual harassment and what to do about it.

How Well Do Your Anti-Harassment Tools Work Overseas?

The 2017 tsunami of high-profile sex harassment allegations against politicians, entertainers and news reporters has employers rethinking their approach to eradicating workplace harassment. And this issue is global—the news stories splash across media outlets worldwide and the conversation is everywhere.

Webinar to Focus on Preventing Harassment and Discrimination Claims in the Workplace

From Hollywood to Capitol Hill, sexual harassment in the workplace has taken the media – and the country – by storm. While harassment in the workplace is not a new topic, the recent surge of claims has put an intense spotlight on the issue. For employers, there is much to learn from the scrutiny. That is why the final webinar in Nexsen Pruet’s 2017 “Building Workplaces That Win” certificate webinar series, to be held on Dec. 13, 2017, will focus on “Preventing Harassment and Retaliation Claims.”

Revisiting Your Sexual Harassment Policy During the #MeToo Uprising

Unlawful sexual harassment, long a problem in the workplace, has become the most visible employment issue in corporate America. Victims of sexual harassment are emboldened to speak up, as they should. In turn—and in remarkable numbers—business leaders in many industries are being called out for alleged bad behavior and forced to step down. The resulting emotional turmoil, business disruption, and injury to personal reputations are causing significant damage to businesses, internally and externally, and to many individuals involved.

Harvey Weinstein and Sexual Harassment Law: “Me Too”

The reports of women who went on the record to accuse Hollywood businessman Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other abuses, evoked the following recent Twitter message by Alyssa Milano: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” This call to action led thousands to step forward and tell their stories as the #MeToo movement—a campaign started approximately 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke—gathered momentum and focused the public’s attention on the issue of sexual harassment and sex discrimination.

Think Sexual Harassment Just Happens in Hollywood? Think Again.

Harvey Weinstein. Bill O’Reilly. Kevin Spacey. The rapid pace of sexual harassment allegations against high-profile figures in recent weeks could make an observer think that sexual harassment is an issue confined to the entertainment industry, the media, sports, and politics.

The Speak Out Evolution from Ms. Magazine to #MeToo: The Time Is Now for Employers to Re-Examine Their Practices

In a November 5, 2017, article, The New York Times harkened back to the 1977 Ms. magazine cover depicting sexual harassment on its cover. The point was to illustrate the fact that the 1977 Ms. cover is just as relevant today as it was then.

Upsurge in Sexual Harassment Claims: What Employers Need to Know

Sexual harassment claims are not new. In this video insight, Helene Wasserman and Corinn Jackson discuss what employers need to know about creating a harassment-free workplace and what to do when sexual harassment claims are made.

Dear Littler: Is an Employee's #MeToo Social Media Post a Harassment Complaint?

Dear Littler: I work in HR and have a very modern-day dilemma. An employee (Lauren) told me about a social media post by another employee (Jane). I don’t follow Jane on social media, but a few days ago she posted this message: #MeToo. My boss is a total jerk. Lauren showed me the message on her phone and asked if I knew anything about it. I’ve heard about the #MeToo movement but don’t know what to make of this post. Is this a harassment complaint? Do I need to do anything?

Lessons to Learn: High profile scandals turn focus to sexual harassment in the workplace

If ever there were a time of reckoning for sexual harassment, it certainly seems that time has come. Allegations of such harassment have led to career altering consequences for several high-powered figures—Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein, to name a few.

Is Harvey in Your Hospital? How Healthcare Organizations Can Avoid Harassment Scandals

Print, air waves, and social media have all been filled with stories of women accusing Harvey Weinstein of grossly inappropriate (if not, criminal) behavior over a long period of time. There is much discussion of who knew what and whether others enabled his alleged behavior. With the flood of allegations against Weinstein have come other allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior of other powerful men in multiple industries. During this controversy, the #MeToo campaign went viral with women bringing to light whether they too had faced sexual harassment.

Keep Calm and Carry On: HR Must Stay Grounded If Leadership Is Accused of Harassment

In this podcast, Helene Wasserman, co-chair of Littler’s Jury Trial and Litigation Practice Group, discusses how Human Resources personnel should respond if presented with harassment allegations – particularly if those complaints are lodged against high-ranking leadership. She addresses why workers often don’t speak up about harassment and how this trend may shift in light of charges swirling around high-profile players in numerous industries. Helene reviews critical “do’s and don’ts” for HR professionals handling harassment allegations, which can help protect all employees as well as the organization.

The Higher They Are, The Harder You Fall

You don’t need to be a cable news network, a Hollywood production company, a media mogul or a politician in order to feel the ripple effect from the recent wave of workplace sexual harassment claims. While such harassment claims might not always make the nightly news, they are nothing new and they impact every sector of employment. With the current flurry of high-profile harassment claims attracting media attention regardless of the industry, employers should prepare for an increase in claims.

Harvey Weinstein and Top Sexual Harassment Mistakes Employers Make

As the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues to unfold, it is a virtual playbook on mistakes employers can make when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Court Grants New Trial in Sexual Harassment Case Based on Evidence of Other Complaints Against Supervisor

Despite “substantial evidence” supporting a jury’s verdict, a judge may weigh the evidence and set aside the verdict if it is contrary to the clear weight of the evidence. Federal Judge Richard A. Jones did just that in EEOC v. Trans Ocean Seafoods, Inc., No. 15-cv-01563 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 8, 2017). He granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial under FRCP 59(a).

How to Be Ready When the EEOC Charges In, Part II: 5 Harassment Prevention Principles to Highlight in a Response

In part one, of this blog series on responding to charges brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), I described some situations that pose an increased risk of a systemic harassment investigation by the EEOC in response to an individual harassment charge. Usually, when responding to the EEOC, employers can provide a precise and limited response that includes only the most essential supporting documents. But when the risk of a systemic investigation arises, an employer’s response may need to be more comprehensive to show that the individual’s charge lacks merit and that the company has an effective harassment prevention program in place.

U.S. Department of Education Revises Guidance Concerning Campus Sexual Misconduct

Executive Summary: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and its corresponding regulations prohibit sex discrimination in education programs or activities conducted by educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance. It is well-settled that sexual harassment which creates a hostile environment constitutes sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. On September 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces Title IX, issued a “Dear Colleague” letter and new Q&A on Campus Misconduct. The Dear Colleague letter explains that OCR’s prior letter dated April 4, 2011 and Q&A guidance dated April 29, 2014 (issued during the Obama administration) have both been withdrawn. OCR cited criticism as to the fairness of the prior guidance as part of the reason for issuing the new guidance.

Ogletree Deakins International Video Series: Anti-Harassment

In the third video of our four-part series, international practitioners Diana Nehro and Bonnie Puckett return to cover anti-discrimination and anti-harassment rules around the world. Play the video below for a succinct discussion of the top challenges for in-house counsel implementing anti-harassment measures abroad. Diana and Bonnie also share their top five recommended steps for U.S.-based in-house counsel to take in order to reconcile their desire for an inclusive, tolerant culture with other countries’ laws that may conflict.

Internal Investigation and Recommendations to Uber on Workplace Environment

As an employment attorney and litigator, I have found this story interesting to follow. Following a former employee's critical blog post accusing Uber of sexual harassment and gender bias, Uber's Board hired Eric Holder and his law partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling, LLP to conduct an investigation of the work place environment. According to Uber’s Statement of Tuesday, June 13, the Board adopted Covington's recommendations (published here). Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced on Tuesday that he was taking a leave of absence to reflect on changes needed in the leadership team.

When There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: Allegations of Harassment Can Point to Liability

The recent departures of high-profile executives and the flurry of harassment lawsuits provide plenty of teaching moments for employers.

Sexual Harassment In The News Likely To Lead To Uptick In Claims

Whenever the topic of sexual harassment reaches mainstream media outlets, people are bound to take notice. And when sexual harassment allegations involving a prominent public figure like Bill O’Reilly appear in the headlines of just about every major national and local media source, your employees are undoubtedly aware.

Title IX may provide legal basis for sexual harassment claims.

The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may have expanded the mechanisms available for individuals who plan to bring claims of sexual harassment or discrimination against an employer that conducts educational programs or activities, specifically including private teaching hospitals.

Jackson Lewis Files Comments on EEOC’s Proposed Guidance on Unlawful Harassment

Jackson Lewis has submitted comments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment. The Proposed Guidance sets out to define what constitutes harassment, examine when a basis for employer liability exists if harassment is proven, and offer suggestions for preventive practices. (For more, see our article, New Proposed Anti-Harassment Guidance Addresses Many Issues.)

Sexual Harassment Still Ranks High on EEOC’s Radar

Sexual harassment claims remain all too common on the evening news and in courts across the nation. From recent allegations against on-demand driving giant Uber to jewelry stores Kay and Jared, the stories are hard to miss.

Hugs May Get You Sued

Perhaps it’s not surprising that a circuit that for years has held that staring can constitute sexual harassment would find that excessive hugging may be illegal, too. The Ninth Circuit (which covers California and other western states) in Zetwick v. County of Yolo, held that it is for a jury to decide whether a male county sheriff’s hugging of a female correctional officer amounted to unlawful harassment.

EEOC Public Input Deadline on Proposed Harassment Enforcement Guidance Extended to March 21

The EEOC enforces various federal laws designed to protect individuals from harassment based upon protected categories such as race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. The EEOC’s proposed guidance explains the legal standards applicable to claims of unlawful harassment under the federal employment discrimination laws.

Super Bowl Commercial Highlights Pay Equity

Many people watch the Super Bowl for the game. Others watch for the commercials. And perhaps even more watch for both. In years past, it would not have been uncommon for people to spend the Monday after the Super Bowl at the water cooler talking about the commercials with Clydesdales, puppies, talking frogs, or celebrities. But this year, and perhaps more so than any other year in recent memory, there were numerous ads that carried or otherwise promoted political and social messages.

EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance Urges Employers To Be Proactive in Preventing, Addressing Workplace Harassment

In its Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment issued on January 10, 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) emphasizes that employers should take a proactive role in preventing harassment, as well as in effectively identifying and eradicating harassment if and when it occurs. Public comments on the proposed enforcement guidance will be invited until February 9, 2017.

What Does ‘Sexual Harassment’ Mean Today?

After flaring up as a hot topic 25 years ago at the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, sexual harassment gained renewed attention in 2016 with high-profile incidents including Harvard canceling its men’s soccer team season in November after school officials discovered that players were rating the school’s female players in sexually explicit terms. And Fox News chairman Roger Ailes resigned in July after on-air personality Gretchen Carlson sued, alleging that he co-mingled career advances and sexual advances.

EEOC Releases Proposed Enforcement Guidance Addressing Harassment

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released for public input a proposed enforcement guidance addressing unlawful harassment under federal employment discrimination laws. The report builds on recommendations from the agency's Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, which were issued in a report last summer. Employers and other stakeholders may submit comments until February 9, 2017.

It’s Time to Get Back to Basics: Keeping Your Workplace Free of Sexual Harassment

In an interview last month, the 2016 Republican presidential nominee stated that if his daughter were sexually harassed, he “would like to think she would find another career or find another company.” His son later stated that because his sister was “a strong, powerful woman[, s]he wouldn’t let herself be, you know, subjected to [sexual harassment].” Both comments have sparked a backlash that has once again brought the issue of sexual harassment to the fore.

Poor Policy Publication Revives Sexual Harassment Suit in the Fifth Circuit

Maintaining a company anti-harassment policy on a bulletin board and website is not enough to avoid liability for sexual discrimination according to a recent decision. On July 20, 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals revived a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a school board’s clerical employee who alleged inappropriate comments and touching from a manager. While the board’s policy manual contained reasonable policy and complaint procedures to prevent harassment, the court found evidence the board made insufficient efforts to train the alleged harasser and other employees about such policies. This case clarifies the scope of an important affirmative defense for employers and demonstrates the importance of clearly explaining policies to employees. Pullen v. Caddo Parish School Board, No. 15-30871, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (July 20, 2016).

EEOC Workplace Harassment Task Force Recommends a 'Reboot' of Harassment Prevention

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace has released its report after a 14-month study of workplace harassment. The report includes a toolkit of compliance assistance measures for employers, and encourages employers to offer compliance trainings "on a dynamic and repeated basis to all employees."

Sexual Harassment: The Final Frontier of Workplace Gender Equality

The 800-pound gorilla in the office is (likely) wearing a suit and tie.

Making Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Effective

Sexual harassment training has become a rite of passage for new supervisors in certain states. For example, for California employers, supervisors must attend training every two years. Various other states have sexual harassment prevention requirements for private and public employers.

New Harassment and Retaliation Standard in Fourth Circuit

Last month, in Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015), the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which includes North and South Carolina, articulated a new standard for analyzing claims of hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII. For employers, the new standard may prove challenging in some respects but may also serve as a call to action.

What Constitutes Harassment? Impact of New Law

Retaliation and harassment are the most commonly filed employment law claims nationwide. After the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision in Boyer-Liberto v. Fountainbleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015) lawsuits alleging hostile work environment and harassment will only be more difficult for employers to dispose of. The Fourth Circuit held that a single instance of harassment may create an actionable hostile work environment claim, and that an employee can be protected from retaliation when complaining about harassment, even if the purported harassment is ultimately not severe enough to create a hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment: An Expensive Proposition

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that sexual harassment claims continue to be a serious issue, with 7,256 new charges filed in FY 2013. Although that number has decreased in recent years, the awards in sexual harassment lawsuits continue to climb.

Boys Will Be Boys? Dolphins Face the Tough Question of Where Locker Room Behavior Ends and Workplace Harassment Begins

There is no crying in football, but is there harassment?

Court Rules Unpaid Interns May Not Sue For Sexual Harassment Under NYC Civil Rights Statutes

The topic of unpaid interns has generated a lot of buzz in the employment law world after a flurry of recent lawsuits in which interns sought repayment under the Fair Labor Standards Act. (Our Professional Liability Matters blog discussed the issue in posts on June 25 and July 9.) However, an October 3 decision from the Southern District of New York has taken the topic into a new direction: sexual harassment. The result? The court ruled that unpaid interns cannot sue for sexual harassment under New York City municipal civil rights laws.

Make Your No-Harassment Policy Less Sexy

In recent years, many high-profile workplace-harassment lawsuits have grabbed headlines, complete with lewd and salacious allegations. Sexual harassment is indeed a form of gender discrimination and courts have issued many important opinions in handling these cases. But for both practical and legal reasons, it would be a big mistake to focus your workplace “no-harassment” efforts strictly upon sexual harassment.

Employment Law Made Un-Scary: Harassment

Everything you need to know about Harassment in one handy post.

How NOT to Handle a Sex Harassment Case

Results of our question of the week.

Harassment – Aren't Employees Smart Enough to Know Better?

Some employers mistakenly believe that harassment was a problem in the 1990's and supervisors and employees now know better. They are wrong. Contrary to popular belief, harassment is not a thing of the past – and the evidence shows that some employees don't know better.

Smart Human Tricks—Saving Your Company Millions in Potential Liability with Harassment and Fraternization Policies.

The back-story behind the attempted extortion of David Letterman features behavior of the sort that keeps legal counsel and compliance officers awake at night. Admitted extortionist, Joe Halderman, crafted a story that depicts Letterman, the Worldwide Pants, Inc. Chairman, as head of an organization with a culture that fosters workplace sexual misconduct and career advancement tied to sexual relationships. Notwithstanding the veracity of Halderman's story, it presents the quintessential case of poor management behavior that puts any company at risk. The behavior of top management can foster an organizational culture acceptant of a hostile working environment, setting the stage for liability that is anything but funny. Building an effective compliance program and culture within your organization prevents your late show from developing into a veritable horror show. In light of the potential consequences, reigning in executive management may be the smartest trick of all.

Do Love Contracts At Work Make Sense? Documenting Voluntary Employee Romances.

"Love contract," is the common phrase that refers to a written confirmation that two employees' romantic relationship is voluntary, and that they both understand and know how to use employer policies that deal with harassment in the workplace.

Playing Favorites -- Romantic or Otherwise -- Is a Messy Game in the Workplace.

The fact that favoritism in the workplace exists is not news, but in high-profile cases, it often makes the news. Two years ago, for example, Harry C. Stonecipher was forced to resign the presidency of aerospace giant Boeing over a relationship with a Boeing executive. This spring, World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz had to resign after being accused of arranging a big raise and promotion for a woman with whom he was having a relationship.
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