Category Archives: Discrimination

Sexual Orientation May Already Be Covered by Discrimination Statutes… Maybe

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal based on existing anti-discrimination statutes, and no new legislation is needed to ban sexual orientation discrimination.  This could add one more protection for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people (due to a quirk in the law, transgender people were already mostly protected from discrimination) especially with the major victory in the recent Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision Obergefell v. Hodges.  Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that these protections may not actually last for long.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Discriminatory Behavior: Do PIPs and “Coaching Plans” Count?

Anyone familiar with educator employment has likely heard the terms PIP, PDP, or FIP before.  PIPs, short for Professional Improvement Plans, are generally the first attempt of an employer to change the behavior of an employee.  Understandably, many people find being placed on PIPs surprising and very stressful, this is particularly true when an individual has been with an employer for decades only to find themselves suddenly placed under a microscope.  Placement on a PIP can make an individual to feel targeted and harassed, which leads to the obvious question, can a PIP by itself be discriminatory?  A recent decision from a federal appellate court addresses just this issue.  See Perret v. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co., 770 F.3d 336 (5th Cir. 2014) (hat tip to the Laconic Law Blog for pointing this case out).  Hit the jump for the analysis… Continue reading

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Costco Sex Harassment Lawsuit May Have Lessons for Missouri Teachers

Almost exclusively, claims of sexual harassment are brought against coworkers or supervisors.  So what is an individual to do when the harasser falls outside of one of these two groups?  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently brought suit against Costco in just such a situation and the case may also provide guidance for teachers as well.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Medical Information Addendum: The EEOC Weighs In

Just last week I posted an article discussing what sort of information an individual needs to give to their employer when they are suffering from a medical issue.  In that article, I noted that many employers request very broad releases, sometimes requesting access to any and all medical information on the employee.  Well this week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against a Minnesota company for this exact issue!  (hat tip to the Employer Handbook for pointing out the press release)  Hit the jump for the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Americans with Disabilities Act, Discrimination

Missouri Court Rules Discrimination Does Not Require A Specific, Discrete Adverse Employment Action

In Missouri, in order to make a claim for discriminatory harassment, the individual has to be able to show four things:

  1. The individual is a member of a protected class (race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or age);
  2. The individual suffered harassment related to their protected class;
  3. The harassment occurred because the individual belonged to the protected class; and
  4. A “term, condition, or privilege” of the individual’s employment was affected by the harassment.

The question faced in a recent Missouri appellate decision is whether the fourth requirement can be met even in a scenario where someone has not suffered from one specific act that caused economic harm. Fuchs v. Dept. of Revenue, WD77155 (Mo. App. W.D. Aug. 26, 2014).  Hit the jump for the details… Continue reading

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Medical Information: What do I have to share with my employer?

When medical issues affect your work life it is natural to want to keep your health information as private as possible.  Often, employers will request that the individual sign an incredibly broad release that would grant them access to basically all of an individual’s health information which is far beyond what the law requires.  However, when deciding what information to share with your employer, bear in mind that there are some minimum standards of disclosure that must be met in order to claim protection under federal law.  This post will examine two cases, one under the Family Medical Leave Act and one under the Americans with Disabilities Act, where an individual shared information but the courts decided it wasn’t enough.  Fortunately, in most situations there is a balance that can be achieved between protecting your information and protecting your job. Continue reading

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Filed under Americans with Disabilities Act, Discrimination, Family Medical Leave Act, Uncategorized

Charter Schools and Discriminatory Admissions

New (or renewed) guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, combined with a new coalition of civil rights groups filing lawsuits against charters in several states, have placed new scrutiny on the admissions practices of charter schools.  As Missouri, and other states, continue to expand their reliance on charter schools for providing public education now is a good time to review some of the legal dangers unique to charter education.  Hit the jump for a quick and dirty overview of a few of these developments…  Continue reading

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Court Upholds $450,000 Age-Discrimination Claim Against Kansas City School District

In a decision that could have repercussions for districts across Missouri, a Missouri appellate court has upheld a jury decision against the Kansas City School District with damages totaling almost $450,000.  See Hurst v. Kansas City Mo. Sch. Dist., No. WD76534 (Mo. App. W.D. April 29, 2014).  The decision highlights methods that many districts are using to “creatively” cut workforce and circumstances where such methods break the law.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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What exactly is a “Hostile Work Environment”?

In my experience, the prohibitions on “hostile work environment” and “harassment” are some of the most misunderstood by individuals not in the legal field.  Unlike many areas of law where archaic latin terms are used to describe legal ideas (“mens rea” or “habeus corpus” anyone?), both of these take normal everyday words and press them into service as specific legal terms.  Therefore, while we can all understand when someone is feeling harassed or that their workplace is hostile, determining when legal rights have been violated is far more complex.  Hit the jump for a look at four (count ’em four!) cases that investigate the gamut of “hostile work environment” and “harassment” law.  Continue reading

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Filed under Discrimination, Uncategorized

U.S. Supreme Court Limits Employer Liability for Discrimination

In two cases over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified some important aspects of discrimination law. Unfortunately, in both cases they decided in favor of the employer, creating new limitations on when an employee can successfully sue for discrimination. These cases are guaranteed to have impacts for all employees so we will summarize them each below.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Discrimination, Rights