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Title VII at 50: What's New?

This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation first introduced by President John F. Kennedy in response to the growing civil rights movement. For employers, the most important component of the act is Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. A number of landmark decisions, legislation, and executive orders have broadened the scope of Title VII and resulted in greater protection for women and minorities in the workplace.

eLABORate: Southern District of Mississippi Tackles Foreign Employee Issue

In Davenport v. HansaWorld USA, Inc., Civil Action No 2:12–CV–233–KS–MTP, 2014 WL 2095190 (S.D. Miss. 2014), the Southern District of Mississippi held that foreign employees employed abroad are not considered in the fifteen-employee headcount when analyzing whether an entity may be subjected to Title VII. The Davenport case is the first court to tackle the issue in Mississippi, and there are no decisions addressing this point of law from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Employee’s failure to apply for position dooms discriminatory hiring claim.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment because of certain protected characteristics, including gender. In order to support a claim under Title VII, an individual must point to an “adverse employment action” that was taken again him or her because of the protected characteristic.

Second Circuit Says Time To File A Lawsuit Is Not Extended By Filing A Claim With The EEOC

Ruling on an issue of first impression, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently held a plaintiff does not get more time to file a tort lawsuit in state court merely because he or she first filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

Stupid “discrimination” complaints: How should an employer handle?

A reader, who has asked to remain anonymous, suggested that I write about employees who make “stupid” complaints about discrimination, harassment, or other allegedly unlawful treatment.

The EEOC's Frontal Assault on Severance Agreements

Employers routinely offer departing employees separation agreements, whether as part of a reduction in force or in connection with an individual termination. These separation agreements typically include enhanced monetary benefits in exchange for a broad release of claims and promises not to sue.

Employee Needs More Than Speculation to Support his Retaliation Claim

To prevail on a claim of retaliation under federal law, an employee must prove that he or she engaged in a “protected activity” under an antidiscrimination statute and subsequently suffered an adverse employment action. In addition, the employee must establish that the protected activity was “causally connected” to the employer’s adverse action.

Employee’s speculation related to basis of his firing is insufficient to support a claim of retaliation.

To prevail on a claim of retaliation under federal law, an employee must prove he or she engaged in a “protected activity” under an anti-discrimination statute, and subsequently suffered an adverse employment action. In addition, the employee must establish that the protected activity was “causally connected” to the employer’s adverse action.

Releases of Liability: Do's and Don't's for Employers

Employers often use waivers and releases of claims in agreements with former employees, either as part of a separation agreement at the time employment ends or in a settlement agreement after a former employee has raised claims against the employer. Both of these types of agreements have garnered attention lately, serving as a reminder of some best practice approaches in each context.

Separation Agreements Continue to Generate Litigation

It is common for employers to assume that frequently used agreements contain legal boilerplate that needs no review or revision. They are wrong. In yet another case challenging the legality of a separation agreement, the EEOC recently filed suit in federal court in Chicago against national retailer CVS Caremark, alleging that CVS violated Title VII by including in its separation agreement terms that many employers take for granted. The EEOC alleges that the release, cooperation, confidential information and non-disparagement provisions in the company's widely used separation agreement unlawfully interfere with an individual's rights under Title VII. The EEOC has brought the case as a systemic action, seeking to reopen hundreds of agreements that have been?signed.