On December 22, 2020, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell signed into law the CROWN Act (Calendar No. 33,184). The new law prohibits employment discrimination in the City of New Orleans based on hairstyles. The law is modeled after federal legislation introduced in January 2020—the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act)—designed to correct racial and cultural inequities by making hair discrimination illegal in the United States.
Some anticipate that President-elect Joseph Biden will revoke the Trump administration’s Executive Order (EO) 13950 that restricts the content of certain diversity-related workplace trainings. On December 22, 2020, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction in the case of Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center d/b/a The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz v. Trump, holding that the plaintiffs had demonstrated (among other things) a sufficient likelihood of success on their claims that EO 13950 is unconstitutional on its face. The order, which went into effect immediately and on a nationwide basis, allows private federal contractors and federal grant recipients to conduct workplace training programs and related activities without facing penalties for “stereotyping” or “scapegoating” under EO 13950. While the injunction does not impact trainings provided to federal employees, on December 22, 2020, a group of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) employees circulated a letter calling for an official investigation into EO 13950 and related executive branch actions targeting diversity-and-inclusion programs.
On December 1, 2020, the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC filed a proposal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to establish a new rule that would require diversity on corporate boards of directors and transparency regarding the composition of boards.
On October 29, 2020, the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance (represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.) filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of Executive Order (EO) 13950 and asking for injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and a proposed class that includes federal contractors that the EO impacts, brought the lawsuit against the president, the secretary of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
On September 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 979, a measure that will require publicly held corporations in California to achieve diversity on their boards of directors by January 2023.
On September 22, 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” The executive order follows a September 4, 2020, memorandum from Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and introduces requirements for government contractors conducting diversity and inclusion (D&I) trainings. It is clear from the order that covered contracts, subcontracts, and grants with the U.S. federal government must control for specific language related to workplace trainings, but the order otherwise lacks guidance about changes covered contractors must make when training on D&I issues.
A federal court ruling staying key parts of new Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations in light of the landmark Supreme Court of the United States ruling on sexual orientation and gender identity will provide little certainty to employers about how federal discrimination law applies to their health plans.
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, holding that, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, covered employers may not discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Part one covered the Bostock holding’s implications for sex-segregated facilities in the employment context. Part two addressed the holding’s consequences for dress codes and grooming standards. This final article in the series encompasses the Bostock holding’s implications for pronoun and honorific usage in the workplace.
Following recent events, employers may experience an increase in the number of race discrimination complaints in the workplace. Many organisations in the United Kingdom, in the United States, and globally have made public statements to reinforce their commitment to racial equality.
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, holding that, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, covered employers may not discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In part one of this series, we discussed the holding’s implications for sex-segregated facilities in the employment context. This article discusses the holding’s implications for dress codes and grooming standards.
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, holding that, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, covered employers may not discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The recent Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia decision, in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that an employer that fires an individual for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has received a tremendous amount of attention. The Court’s decision has broad implications for employers and their employment counsel. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion devotes much space to a discussion of the “but-for” causation standard.
Many people have commented on social media regarding the anti-racist movement that has been gaining strength in the wake of police officers killings around the country. Unfortunately, some of these posts are inflammatory, derogatory, offensive, or racist. Even though employees are generally posting on their personal social media pages and are often doing so outside of work time, coworkers and even community-members to employers are increasingly complaining about offensive comments employees are posting on various social media platforms. While sometimes the conduct is so severe that employers can easily determine the appropriate consequences, in other cases employers must balance a variety of legal requirements, employee and public relations concerns, and their own company values. The following are answers to frequently asked questions about these issues.
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 6-3 decision, held Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition of sex discrimination encompassed discrimination against gay and transgender individuals. Two dissents followed the majority’s opinion—Justice Samuel Alito, Jr.’s, with whom Justice Clarence Thomas joined, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s.
Several prominent companies across the nation recently announced that they would observe Juneteenth as a holiday. This new trend of observing Juneteenth comes in the wake of several weeks of protests across the world advocating for an end to racial injustice and police brutality. These protests have generated discourse across the country, including in workplaces, about systemic racism and what actions we all can take to address the issues. Although Juneteenth is not a new holiday, recognizing and observing the holiday is one of many proactive measures that employers can take to demonstrate their commitment to fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces and to promoting racial justice.
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition of sex discrimination encompasses discrimination against gay and transgender individuals. Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the 6-3 majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan.
In May 2020, the United Kingdom welcomed the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, which was enacted to ensure the equal treatment of men and women in terms of pay and the conditions of employment. However, in recent months, research has revealed that women have suffered a larger fall in earnings in the United Kingdom and are losing their jobs in greater numbers than men during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in a 6-to-3 decision, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from firing workers for being homosexual or transgender.
COVID-19 has certainly not slowed down legislators in Annapolis. Far from sitting idle, the Maryland General Assembly recently passed a broad array of workplace legislation without the governor’s signature. In addition to a significant expansion of Maryland’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, three new employment laws are set to take effect on October 1, 2020.
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.