Joan S. Farrell, JD, is a Senior Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications. Ms. Farrell writes extensively on the topics of workplace discrimination, unlawful harassment, retaliation, and reasonable accommodation. She is the editor of the ADA compliance manual—ADA Compliance: Practical Solutions for HR. Before coming to BLR, Ms. Farrell worked as in-house counsel for a multistate employer where she represented management in administrative matters and provided counseling on employment practices.
Interview: See Joan’s interview with the Illinois State Register-Journal on social media and sexual harassment.
Video: Watch Joan's recent video on the ADA and employee discipline.
For employers considering a gender identity policy (and/or looking to include gender identity information in existing policies or harassment prevention training), the following information from the New York City Commission on Human Rights may be helpful.
On January 1, a new law in New York will make “familial status” a protected characteristic under the state’s fair employment law. With the new law, New York joins several other states that expressly prohibit an employer from discriminating against an applicant or employee because of familial status—or, in some jurisdictions—family responsibilities.
Employers often face difficult decisions when an employee who is, or has been, a great worker appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while at work. It’s important to point out that while the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with alcoholism—it does not protect individuals who show up to work under the influence of alcohol.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision requiring all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, made national news when she refused to issue licenses, claiming that same-sex marriage violates her religious beliefs. While the Davis scenario attracted more attention than most employee requests for religious accommodation, it’s worth taking a look at what’s required by employers when an employee requests an accommodation for religious beliefs.
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