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Total Articles: 46

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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