It’s no secret that the EEOC—and even some courts—read Title VII to prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. A growing number of state and city laws also specifically include gender identity and/or expression as protected characteristics. But while employers may understand the legal dangers of firing someone for “coming out” as transgender, the extent of employers’ day-to-day obligations with respect to transgender employees in the workplace is far less clear. For example:

  • Are transgender employees entitled to access particular bathrooms or change their company employment records? And, if so, at what point in an employee’s gender transition must an employer accommodate such requests?
  • How should employers address negative reactions and attitudes from coworkers?

Two recent EEOC cases provide initial guidance for employers trying to navigate these tricky—and still relatively uncharted—employment law waters.Continue Reading Transgender at Work: How Employers Can Stay Off the EEOC Radar Screen

This post was also written by Megan E. Farrell.

On June 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that a job applicant can establish religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 without proof that the employer had “actual knowledge” of the applicant’s need for an accommodation; instead, the applicant “need only show that his [or her] need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision” (emphasis added). Writing for eight of the Court’s nine Justices, Justice Scalia explained that employers “may not make an applicant’s religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions.” EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., No. 14-86, ___ S. Ct. ___ (2015).Continue Reading EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch: Do You Need to Ask Applicants Whether They Require Religious Accommodation?

Just weeks after prohibiting employers from using credit checks, the New York City Council Wednesday passed yet another bill that handcuffs businesses attempting to vet new job applicants. Most notably, the bill, commonly referred to as the Fair Chance Act (the Act), bars employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal history before extending a conditional offer of employment to the applicant. In other words, the Act “bans the box” – typically found on employment applications – that asks about a candidate’s criminal background.

The Act is an amendment to the already-liberal NYC Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and, beyond “banning the box,” it also creates other new legal protections for current and prospective employees who have criminal histories. Pundits expect that Mayor Bill de Blasio will immediately endorse the Act – possibly in the next few days.Continue Reading BREAKING: NYC “Bans the Box,” Barring Most Pre-Employment Criminal Inquiries

This post was written by Cindy S. Minniti and Mark S. Goldstein.

Today’s New York employment law landscape is increasingly dynamic, with a constant stream of newly issued legislation and judicial opinions. To keep our readers current on the latest developments, we will share regular summaries of recent developments affecting Empire State employers. Here’s what happened in March and April 2015:

Minimum Wage Hike Suffers a Setback

New York lawmakers recently dealt a significant, but not necessarily fatal, blow to Gov. Cuomo’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour (and to $11.50 in NYC). In late March, state legislators surprisingly omitted the proposed wage hike from the state’s upcoming annual budget. The debate over whether to yet again raise the state’s minimum wage – which is already slated to increase to $9.00/hour on December 31, 2015 – is now left to unfold in the State Assembly and Senate over the next six weeks, until the 2015 legislative session ends on June 17.

State Assembly Passes “Family Care” Leave Bill

On March 17, the State Assembly passed a bill that would provide up to 12 weeks of partially paid “family care” leave to employees statewide. Under the bill, employees would be able to take a leave of absence, and receive up to one-half of their regular wages: (i) to participate in providing care for a family member’s serious health condition; (ii) to bond with a newly born or newly adopted child; or (iii) because of any qualifying exigency, as interpreted under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), arising out of the active duty of certain family members. Like FMLA leave, the proposed state family care leave law would allow employees to take family care leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis.

The family care leave bill is now under consideration by the Republican-controlled Senate, which earlier this year recommended its own family leave law. That proposal would have provided employees with up to six weeks of leave, with partial pay, for certain qualifying exigencies, but would have required the state to fund the program, at least in the first year. Passage of a family care leave bill – in any form – is hardly a certainty and will likely take a backseat to other initiatives that Gov. Cuomo is supporting, such as the minimum wage increase and the Women’s Equality Act.Continue Reading New York Employment Roundup: March & April 2015

This post was written by Cindy S. Minniti and Mark S. Goldstein.

New York City employers who routinely use credit checks as part of the pre-employment process may be in for a rude awakening. Earlier today, the NYC Council passed legislation that bars most employers with four or more employees, as well as employment

The Labour Court Mainz is currently creating quite a stir in German professional sports. For decades, it was customary and recognized by the courts that contracts of professional athletes could be limited. The Labor Court in Mainz now sees this differently.

German goalkeeper Heinz Müller brought an action against his club Mainz 05. He had

This post was written by David Ashmore and Amy Treppass.

In Metroline Travel v Stoute, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) decided that employees with type 2 diabetes controlled by diet (rather than medication) are not automatically protected by disability discrimination legislation.

The Facts

Mr Stoute was employed by Metroline and worked for them as

In Donelien v Liberata, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has held that an employer did not have constructive knowledge of an employee’s disability, even though further steps could have been taken to investigate her condition.

Background

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to help disabled employees overcome disadvantages

In our previous blog, “Are obese workers protected from discrimination” , we confirmed the advocate general’s opinion in the case of Kaltoft v Municipality of Billund (case C-354/13) that while obese workers were not automatically covered by EU disability discrimination law, the worker may be considered to be disabled where he or she is “severely