On March 19, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Washington House of Representatives Bill 2602 (HB 2602), which amends the Washington Law Against Discrimination to include a definition of “race.”
On March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African-American Owned Media, ruled that a plaintiff who alleges race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 must plead and has the ultimate burden of showing that race was a but-for cause of the plaintiff’s injury, and that burden remains constant over the life of the lawsuit.
While many traditional places of public accommodation, such as theaters, stadiums, restaurants, amusement parks, and retail stores, have shut down their operations in response to “shelter in place” and “social distancing” orders issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many businesses deemed “essential” by government orders or otherwise continuing operations have adopted sound safety rules designed to keep their employees safe.
On December 30, 2019, New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation requiring the New York State Department of State, partnered with the Department of Taxation and Finance, to conduct a study of the proportion of female members on the boards of domestic and foreign corporations licensed to do business in New York.
Signaling a growing movement to align culturally inclusive practices with legal protections, California has become the first state to expressly ban discrimination based on hairstyle and hair texture associated with a person’s race. On July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law Senate Bill No. 188, the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act).
On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed Senate Bill (SB) 826, a pioneering law mandating each publicly-held company headquartered in California to have at least one female on its board of directors.
On February 24, 2019, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) became effective in the state of New York. GENDA bars discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of “gender identity or expression,” which is defined as “a person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including, but not limited to, the status of being transgender.”
Pride—It’s a simple word that, for some, denotes arrogance, hubris, narcissism, or a foolishly and irrationally distorted sense of one’s personal value, importance, or achievement. However, there is a much more insightful, thoughtful, and powerful meaning behind the word that has been the impetus for worldwide commemoration.
As Chief Diversity and Professional Development Officer at Ogletree Deakins, I have seen that law firms specifically, and the legal industry, generally, face external pressures from clients, outside counsel, and diversity groups to maintain diversity initiatives. Recently, some of that pressure has been coming from sources internal to law firms—namely, their own attorneys. As more companies offer their employees attractive leave benefits, law firms are following suit by offering their attorneys robust parental leave benefits. Here are some cutting-edge questions for companies promoting a work-life balance to consider in terms of their parental leave allowances, and trends in the promotion and advancement of women in law, including the Mansfield Rule and how it can positively impact the legal profession.
Meaningful diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace have evolved from being the right thing to do to being the smart thing to do—and now they are quickly moving toward being the essential thing companies must do to ensure success.
With the 2017-18 National Football League (NFL) regular season and National Basketball Association (NBA) pre-season underway, many spectators are excited to don their favorite players’ jerseys and cheer on their teams. Yet in recent years, many fans also find themselves equally entrenched in controversial debates that have little to do with who wins or loses the game.
All companies should have mechanisms through which employees can voice concerns and feel confident that (a) those concerns will be taken seriously, (b) those concerns will be fairly and promptly investigated, and (c) misconduct, if it is found, will be corrected. However, if unconscious bias infects decision-making when it comes to workplace investigations, employees will feel the system is rigged against them—no matter how well-written a company policy is, no matter how many avenues are given to employees to lodge complaints, and no matter how much a company talks about a culture of accountability. Fortunately, there are a number of steps workplace investigators can take to minimize the chances that this will occur.
Unconscious bias (also called “implicit bias”) has become a trending topic—both in the general media and in the HR world. The topic of unconscious bias is often cited when considering ways companies can improve their diversity and inclusion efforts by recruiting and retaining diverse talent. It’s also critically relevant in the context of conducting workplace investigations because an essential duty of any workplace investigator is to conduct independent, unbiased inquiries about allegations of workplace misconduct.