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Company’s Reaction to Claim of Unequal Pay Provides Lessons for Employers

Complaints of unequal pay should not be taken lightly, and certainly should not be met with an immediate adverse employment action. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently reinstated a female office worker’s equal pay retaliation claim that had been dismissed by a federal district court, and is allowing that case to move forward to a jury. Donathan v. Oakley Grain, Inc., No. 15-3508 (June 28, 2017).

Company’s reaction to claim of unequal pay is a “don’t do” check-list for employers.

Complaints of unequal pay should not be taken lightly, and certainly should not be met with an immediate adverse employment action. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently reinstated a female office worker’s equal pay retaliation claim that had been dismissed by a federal district court, and is allowing that case to move forward to a jury. Donathan v. Oakley Grain, Inc., 8th Circ., No. 15-3508, June 28, 2017.

Eleventh Circuit Sets the Stage for U.S. Supreme Court Certification on Whether Sexual Orientation is Protected by Title VII

Executive Summary: On March 10, 2017, in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, a split panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that it was bound by prior precedent that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. The majority opinion was clear that only a ruling from the Eleventh Circuit sitting en banc could change the state of the law on this issue. Evans moved for reconsideration en banc. The Eleventh Circuit denied the request on July 6, 2017. The Circuits are now split on the issue, providing an opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to definitely decide the issue.

Mid-Year Roundup: Equal Pay and Related Bills Command Attention in 2017

Consistent with a major theme of the 2016 election cycle, equal pay and similar wage proposals dominated the attention of state legislatures in the first half of 2017.1 More than 100 such bills were introduced in the recent legislative sessions in more than 40 jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.2 While most of these bills have languished or were vetoed—most recently, a Maine proposal to expand its equal pay law reached the desk of Governor Paul LePage, only to be vetoed as the legislative term closed on June 30—the trend is apparent.

Investigating Transgender Student Discrimination under New Education Department Directives

Department of Education regional directors have been given new instructions on sex discrimination protections for transgender students under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972. Two updated, internal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) guidance documents outline changes to the appropriate scope of OCR investigations and to the Department’s interpretation of Title IX.

During Last Week of School Seventh Circuit Rules in Favor of Transgender Teen On Restroom Use

Executive Summary: On May 30, 2017, on the heels of the Seventh Circuit’s ground-breaking en banc decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech. College holding that sexual orientation is a protected trait under Title VII, a unanimous three-judge panel of that Circuit upheld an injunction requiring a Wisconsin school district to allow a transgender student whose sex assigned at birth was female and who now identifies as male to use the boys’ restroom. In Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 Board of Education, the Seventh Circuit ruled that under the gender non-conformity/sex stereotyping theory of liability as set out by Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins and its progeny, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibit a school from barring a transgender student from using the bathroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity.

Hiring Best Practices: 5 DOs and DON’Ts When a Job Applicant Announces a Pregnancy

Want a road map for how not to react to a successful job applicant who announces her pregnancy immediately after receiving an offer letter? Look at the reaction of one prospective employer in Florida who recently settled a legal claim on that issue. EEOC v. Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc., MDFL, No. 6:16-cv-1326-Orl-37DCI, Consent Decree signed May 3, 2017.

Unhidden Figures: U.K. Requires Public Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The U.K. Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 went into effect in April. The new law requires private employers with 250 or more U.K.-based employees to publish, for 2017 and every year thereafter, information showing differences in pay between male and female employees.

Full Second Circuit to Revisit Its Position On Sexual Orientation as a Protected Class Under Title VII

Executive Summary: While the Seventh Circuit definitively has held that sexual orientation discrimination is discrimination “because of sex” and, therefore, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (as reported by these authors on April 25, 2017), the other Circuits continue to debate this issue. Specifically, (as previously reported by these authors on April 3, 2017), the Second Circuit in Christiansen v. Omnicom and Eleventh Circuit in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital held they were bound by prior precedent that sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII, despite their skepticism as to whether that precedent remains good law.

Seventh Circuit Hands Down Major Ruling in Transgender Student Case

On May 30, 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a transgender student has the right to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity in Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 Board of Education, et al. This ruling is potentially groundbreaking, and could open the door for other courts to find that both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause protect transgender students from discrimination in schools.