On April 29, 2024 – for the first time in more than twenty years – the EEOC issued its long-awaited updated Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace. The updated guidance, which supersedes the EEOC’s decades-old guidance from the 1980’s and 1990’s, now addresses subjects arising in the modern workplace, including the rise of remote work, the #MeToo movement, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s  decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. 644 (2020), in which the Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects workers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. A few key updates that employers should be aware of include the following:  

Conduct in virtual environments

With the increase in virtual and remote work, the Guidance explains that conduct within a virtual work environment can constitute a hostile work environment. Stated differently, the existence of harassment and a hostile work environment is not limited exclusively to a physical workplace. To illustrate its point, the Guidance identified several example scenarios where harassment could exist in a virtual or remote workplace, such as sexist or ableist comments made during a video meeting or typed into a group chat, “racist imagery that is visible in an employee’s workspace while the employee participates in a video meeting,” or “sexual comments made during a video meeting about a bed being near an employee in the video image.”Continue Reading EEOC issues long-awaited enforcement guidance on workplace harassment

On Wednesday April 17, 2024, the US Supreme Court in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis, Missouri, et al. issued a precedential ruling that will likely pave the way for more employee discrimination claims under Title VII. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Title VII prohibits discriminatory job transfers even if they do not result in a “materially significant disadvantage” to the employee. The Court clarified that an employee challenging a job transfer under Title VII must establish “some harm” with respect to the terms and conditions of employment, but that such harm “need not be significant.”Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court clarifies standard for job transfer discrimination under Title VII

The highest court in the land has, at long last, weighed in on the permissibility of the federal government’s November 2021 vaccine-or-test rule for large employers. Specifically, on January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which had required that private employers with 100 or more U.S. employees adopt either (1) a mandatory vaccination policy or (2) a policy that allows employees to choose between vaccination and submission of weekly COVID tests (as we previously discussed here).

As a result, employers previously covered by the ETS will not have to comply – at least for now – with its requirements. Below we will discuss the Court’s ruling and, equally if not more importantly, what this means for U.S. employers.Continue Reading Supreme Court blocks federal vaxx-or-test rule for large employers

OSHA issued its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in early November. A series of challenges quickly ensued, resulting in a stay of the ETS and a consolidation of the cases before the Sixth Circuit. On December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit lifted the stay. OSHA has indicated that it will delay enforcement of the ETS deadlines

As states and localities lift COVID-19 restrictions, the business community continues to grapple with the interplay between the COVID-19 vaccine and workplace operations. To address this, some U.S. employers have elected to adopt mandatory vaccination policies. These policies, in essence, require that, subject to exceptions for sincerely-held religious beliefs and disabilities, all employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of continued employment.

Not entirely surprisingly, there have been a smattering of legal challenges to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies across the country. And on June 12, 2021, a federal court in Texas became the first to rule on the permissibility of such policies. In a landmark ruling, the court concluded that mandatory workplace vaccination policies are lawful under Texas and federal law and may be enforced as a condition of continued employment. The court’s specific findings are discussed below.
Continue Reading In first-of-its-kind decision, federal court rules that mandatory workplace COVID-19 vaccine policies are lawful

On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to continue operating. In so holding, the Court found the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not provide an adequate justification for terminating the DACA program and, thereby, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).[1] But the Court’s decision does not resolve the matter entirely.

The Court did not rule on the legality of the DACA program itself. Instead, it merely repudiated the way DHS tried to rescind it. Although the Court held the DHS’s justification to terminate DACA was arbitrary and capricious, it recognized the DHS has the authority to rescind the program if it follows the required APA procedure. Thus, the DHS could try again to end the program by explaining more clearly its reasons for doing so.

Below, we answer two questions: (1) What is the status of the DACA program; and (2) What impact will the Court’s ruling have on DACA recipients and employers?Continue Reading Understanding the employment implications of the Supreme Court decision upholding DACA

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (U.S. Jun. 15, 2020), which held that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a 6-3 opinion authored by

On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court found that truck drivers classified as independent contractors cannot be compelled to arbitrate their claims under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). See New Prime, Inc. v. Oliveira, No. 17-340, 2019 WL 189342 (U.S. Jan. 15, 2019).

This decision has significant ramifications for transportation industry companies that previously utilized arbitration agreements with their independent contractor drivers. Given the court’s ruling, those independent contractor drivers can no longer be compelled to arbitrate their claims under the FAA.

The plaintiff, Dominic Oliveira, worked as an independent contractor driver for a trucking company, New Prime Inc. As part of his contract with New Prime, Olivera agreed to arbitrate all disputes. In contradiction to this agreement, Oliveira brought a claim in court against New Prime on behalf of himself and thousands of other independent contractor drivers. Oliveira alleged that he and the other drivers were misclassified as independent contractors, and that they were actually employees of the company.Continue Reading High court finds independent contractor truck drivers excluded from FAA

The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) makes clear that agency fee agreements in the public sector are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Although Janus dealt with government employees, the potential impact on private sector employers also demands careful consideration.

The Decision

In Janus