What's New on HR.BLR.com
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HR Regulatory Analysis
We are continually updating our state and national regulatory analysis to help you keep up with the changing regulations. See the updated section on the What's New page, below, to find all of the updated topics.
New Documents
  • HR News:
    We all know neither Google nor Facebook has a legal degree, but that doesn’t stop your employees from acting as if the social media platforms do. More than one employee has probably pushed back on a policy by saying, “I read on Facebook ...” or “I Googled ‘such and such,’ and you are doing it wrong.” Here are some of the issues we’re hearing about lately.
  • This past June, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County expanded the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee or applicant "because of ... sex") to include protection from employment discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. The momentous holding fundamentally changed Title VII jurisprudence, and it didn't take long for courts to apply the Bostock holding to other areas of the law, including Title IX.
  • Now more than ever, employers are facing difficult decisions about workforce operations. In addition to the time- and attention-consuming obligations of on-site safety protocols, remote workforce policies, information and data security, and what to communicate to employees about vaccination rules, savvy employers are keeping up with their evolving expectations on the civil rights front. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court settled, once and for all, that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected “sex-based” characteristics under federal law in the landmark case Bostock v. Clayton County. Employers in the education sector have, arguably, even greater expectations under Title IX regulations that went into effect in 2020 and provide heightened due process protections and grievance procedures for addressing sexual harassment complaints that meet certain thresholds in education programs and activities.
  • Whole Foods employees wearing Black Lives Matter (BLM) masks and attire filed a class action lawsuit against the grocery company and Amazon after being prohibited from wearing the gear with the BLM messaging and disciplined for doing it anyway. They alleged race-based discrimination and retaliation claims. The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed almost all of the employees’ race-based claims. Although the court implied the two companies acted unfairly or unwisely toward the employees, it determined their actions weren’t unlawful.
  • Last March, in a matter of days, most U.S. employers went from doing business as usual to fully or partially shutting down. At the same time, we watched the stock market tank and wondered if we would ever return to normal. One way or another, most employers regrouped and reenvisioned how they conducted their businesses, and employees adapted to working from home with kids attending school virtually. Now that we see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s worthwhile to consider what the new normal may be like when we finally reach herd immunity.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a national emphasis program (NEP) in March 2021 to focus its COVID-19 enforcement efforts. The NEP will remain in effect for up to a year, although the agency has the discretion to amend or cancel it sooner (as more workers get vaccinated and the pandemic begins to subside). The program is a direct response to a January 2021 Executive Order from President Joe Biden directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue revised guidance for employers.
  • In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), becoming not only the 38th state to endorse it but also the final one to satisfy the required two-thirds majority needed to amend the U.S. Constitution. Although equal rights activists celebrated the state’s passage of the ERA, the long journey toward ratification didn’t end. In fact, a new chapter was just beginning. And the finale could spell doom for proponents.
  • Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a new rule affecting its own processes for dealing with employers under investigation. The conciliation process, which is statutorily mandated, occurs after the agency has determined reasonable cause exists to believe the employer has violated an employment statute and is the means by which it attempts to resolve its perceived issues with the employer’s practices. The new rule, which went into effect on February 16, mandates a significant increase in transparency and is a boon for any employer attempting to resolve an EEOC investigation without litigation.
  • Q Our employment applications are available in English. If an applicant applies in a language other than English and our recruiters cannot read the responses, what do we do with the application? Are we able to disqualify the candidate?
  • As of this writing, and with six female accusers, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is forcefully denying all allegations that he wrongly touched women or was ever placed on notice that his words and conduct were offensive. With a sexual harassment investigation by the state attorney general under way and highly placed politicos from the governor’s own party calling for his immediate resignation, the stakes are pretty high. Without judging the allegations to be credible, what lessons can we learn?
  • The landscape of federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity is continuing to evolve. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Equality Act. At the same time, however, many states are implementing legislation in direct opposition to the federal law’s tenets.
Updated Documents
 HR Strange But True
CT-WEB06
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