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Historic settlement of sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit

On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it had settled one of its first lawsuits alleging sexual orientation discrimination. The settlement—in the form of a consent decree—requires Pallet Companies, doing business as IFCO Systems (IFCO), to pay $202,200 in addition to a number of nonmonetary requirements. This landmark decree comes less than a year after the EEOC first concluded that discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation amounted to sex discrimination.

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© 2016

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Employers are limited in use of social media to oppose “unionizing” efforts

As discussed in a previous post, employers cannot terminate employees for using social media to exercise their right to engage in protected concerted activity (typically seen as “unionizing”). Holding that employers cannot fight fire with fire, a recent court decision has now limited the extent of the employer’s ability to use social media to oppose “unionizing” activities.

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© 2016

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Restaurant’s social media rules violate National Labor Relations Act

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An administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has required a restaurant to rehire and pay back wages to an employee who was fired for violating the restaurant’s social media policy. The employee, a veteran who allegedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), tweeted about—

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© 2016

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Employers face greater challenge in defending discrimination lawsuits

In a case of first impression, Quigg v. Thomas County School District, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the burden-shifting framework (known as “McDonell Douglas”) established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 for cases involving mixed-motive discrimination claims. Instead, the Court adopted a less stringent standard, allowing claims to proceed where the plaintiff is able to show that (1) the defendant took an adverse employment action against the plaintiff and (2) a protected characteristic was a motivating factor for the adverse employment action.

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© 2016

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Pregnancy discrimination remains part of EEOC’s focus

As the summer drew to a close, the EEOC continued to aggressively pursue claims of pregnancy discrimination, filing a total of eight lawsuits involving pregnancy-related discrimination in the month of September alone. These cases range from New Mexico to Georgia and include a wide variety of employers from a commercial moving company to a temporary staffing agency to a home healthcare provider. Despite these differences, however, a common thread throughout the cases is the consistent “no tolerance” position of the EEOC related to pregnancy discrimination. This policy prohibits discrimination based on (a) current pregnancies, (b) past pregnancies, (c) potential or intended pregnancies, and (d) medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

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© 2015

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