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Legalized Discrimination Or Safety From Government Interference? What Mississippi Employers Need To Know About New Religious Freedom Law

On April 5, 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law HB 1523, also known as the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act.” While proponents of the new law state that it simply protects individuals and organizations from legal consequences that would otherwise result from religiously motivated actions, opponents contend that the new law legalizes discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. Regardless of one’s personal opinion, one thing is for sure: the new law provides little protection to employers who base employment decisions on their religious beliefs.

The Dawn Of A New Wild, Wild West In Mississippi? State Supreme Court Rules On Employees Workplace Firearm Rights

On March 24, 2016, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued an opinion that allowed an employee to proceed with a wrongful discharge lawsuit after being terminated for possessing a gun on company premises, significantly altering employers’ ability to forbid the presence of firearms at the workplace (Swindol v. Aurora Flight Services Corporation). In doing so, the court created another exception to Mississippi’s venerable employment at-will doctrine, a doctrine that has existed in our state for 150 years. All employers, both public and private, should take note.

Mississippi Employment Protection Act Signed Into Law.

Governor Haley Barbour recently signed into the law the Mississippi Employment Protection Act (S.B. 2988) which requires employers to participate in E-Verify, the federal government’s voluntary employment verification program. Under the new law, employers in the following categories would be required to use E-Verify for new hires after the following effective dates:

Mississippi Worker May Sue For Hostile Work Environment.

A federal district court in Mississippi recently refused to dismiss a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a male employee who claimed that conduct engaged in by his male supervisor created a hostile work environment. According to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, the alleged harassing conduct may have been sufficiently severe and pervasive to constitute a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
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