Monday, President Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating against employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Order specifically amends Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in government business in one year, from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Executive Order 11246 further requires federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to ensure equal opportunity in employment decisions such as hiring, promoting and training.
An Ohio court recently held that an applicant’s refusal to provide a social security number, because it would “cause him to have the ‘Mark of the Beast’ which his religion prohibits,” was an insufficient allegation to maintain a claim against the employer for religious discrimination. The court found that an employer’s failure to hire an applicant after he refused to provide his social security number was not religious discrimination as the IRS requires every employee to have a social security number, and the plaintiff had not provided any facts to indicate that religious beliefs would be considered reasonable cause by the IRS for failure to report an employee’s social security number. You can read the full opinion here.
In other exciting news, earlier this month, an Illinois court held that a public school teacher in Chicago was not improperly terminated as a result of his disability of alcoholism, but that he was in violation of over five different school policies when he arrived at school inebriated and had a blood alcohol level of .198, and on the second test was at a level .203. Accordingly, the court, thankfully, found his termination justified and proper. Read the whole opinion here.
Earlier this week New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan signed S.B. 207 into law which requires employers to pay male and female employees equally. In discussing the bill Governor Hassan noted that while over half of New Hampshire women are primary or co-breadwinners, they earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men in similar jobs. A similar federal bill had been proposed, the Paycheck Fairness Act, but that bill has stalled in Congress.
What to Expect from the EEOC When You Are Expecting: How the EEOC’s Recent Guidance Affects Employers in a Post-Hobby Lobby World
Contraceptives, accommodations, pregnancy, Hobby Lobby, these buzz words have employers and Human Resource professionals on their toes as to how to handle a seemingly regular (albeit wonderful and special) occurrence—child birth. And yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decided to shake things up a bit by offering a bit of guidance that further complicates the “limited” Hobby Lobby ruling.
Late last month, June 20, 2014 to be precise, the First Circuit issued a ruling favorable to employers faced with claims of FMLA discrimination claims. The case, Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de Energia, was before the Court on a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim that she had been terminated in retaliation for her use of protected FMLA leave. The court, when reviewing the prima facie elements of a claim, and focusing on the causation element, stated the plaintiff: “appears to assume that the chronology overlap between her termination and her leave renders the causal connection between the two actions obvious. But while temporal proximity is one factor from which an employer’s bad motive can be inferred, by itself, it is not enough—especially if the surrounding circumstances undermine any claim of causation.”
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maine recently granted an employer’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, ruling that a co-worker’s statement that the plaintiff sent an e-mail that was “false” did not support a claim for slander per se. The Court concluded that “Stripped of any additional explanatory or contextual information, the statement can be reasonably understood by people of ordinary intelligence to mean that [the plaintiff’s] email was either untrue or intentionally untrue. . . . While the latter meaning could give rise to a slanderous statement if the statement is proven false, the former does not.”