EEOC Priorities

I had the opportunity to attend a Fairfax Bar Association Employment Law Section lunch yesterday and listen to Peggy Mastroianni from the EEOC speak on the EEOC’s current enforcement priorities.

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8th Circuit Reverses $900,000 Jury Award Based on Attorney’s Mistake in Closing Argument

In an opinion published last Friday, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that a plaintiff’s attorney improperly prejudiced jurors during a sexual harassment trial by sharing her own story of being harassed during closing arguments.

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Tenth Circuit Denies Review in “Hijab Case”

The Tenth Circuit recently declined the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s request for a full court review of a panel ruling that Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc.’s refusal to hire a Muslim woman because she wore a headscarf did not amount to religious discrimination.

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Supervisor’s Request for Personal Grooming Assistance Created a Hostile Work Environment

In McMiller v. Missouri-Illinois, the Eighth Circuit overruled a summary judgment ruling in a recent sexual harassment case based not on sexual contact, but on a potentially inappropriate personal grooming request.

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Recent Jury Verdicts and Settlements

A summary of recent jury verdicts and settlements can be found after the break.

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March 2014 EEOC Verdicts and Settlements

Our March summary of EEOC verdicts and settlements is after the break.

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Supreme Court Asked to Clarify Extent of EEOC Conciliation Efforts

The Supreme Court has been asked to clarify a longstanding circuit conflict over the extent to which the EEOC must exhaust conciliation efforts with employers before filing suit.

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Contractors Entitled To Whistleblower Protection Under Sarbanes-Oxley

In Lawson v. FMR, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held, as a matter of first impression, that only employees of public companies receive whistleblower protection against retaliatory actions by their employer.  The Court found that this protection does not apply to employees of contractors or subcontractors working for the public company. The U.S. Supreme Court took up the case — what did it conclude?

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Employee’s Poisoning of Co-Worker was Outside the Scope of Employment for Purposes of Employer’s Vicarious Liability

In Monague v. AMN Healthcare, Inc., the California Court of Appeal recently held that a staffing company was not vicariously liable for an employee’s poisoning of a co-worker.

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EEOC and FTC Publish Joint Technical Assistance Documents Discussing the Use of Background Checks in Employment Situations

For the first time, the EEOC and the FTC have released a jointly authored technical assistance manual discussing the law surrounding background checks in employment decisions.  The agencies produced two documents, one for the employers and one for employees, providing guidance on how to properly conduct background checks on job applicants and current employees.

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EEOC Issues New Guidance on Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace

The EEOC has issued two new publications addressing workplace rights and responsibilities with respect to religious dress and grooming under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The question-and-answer guide and the accompanying fact sheet provide a discussion of the applicable law, advice for employers and employees, and case examples based on the EEOC’s litigation.

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February 2014 EEOC Verdicts and Settlements

Our February summary of EEOC verdicts and settlements can be found after the break.

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EEOC Lawsuit Alleges Standard Severance Agreement Is Unlawful

In a recent press release, the EEOC announced that it has filed a lawsuit against CVS Pharmacy, Inc., alleging that CVS unlawfully violated three employees’ rights to communicate with the EEOC and file charges of discrimination when it conditioned the receipt of severance benefits on overly broad severance agreement terms.

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Austin HR Law Day Program

Senior Associate Wilson Stoker will be a presenter at the Austin Human Resource Management Association’s (AHRMA) Law Day on February 27, 2014.

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EEOC to Settle First Systemic GINA Lawsuit for $370,000

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”), passed by Congress in 2008, prevents employers from requesting genetic information or making employment decisions based on genetic information.  In EEOC vs. Founders Pavilion Inc. (W.D.N.Y), the EEOC alleged that Founders Pavilion violated GINA by asking for family medical history as part of pre-employment, return-to-work and annual medical exams of its employees.  Additional charges of disability discrimination under Title VII and the ADA were also alleged.

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