Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of religion. This means that an employer cannot treat persons of different religions differently or appear to favor one religion over another. As such, employers should be mindful of varying cultural differences among their employees. While their are not as many religious holidays during

One issue that comes up for many employers in the summer is hiring seasonal workers. Hiring temporary seasonal employees presents some substantial legal traps for the unwary. Employers should assess their seasonal hiring practices to ensure compliance with various state and federal laws. In other posts, we advised you on the issues in hiring interns

Almost a year ago, we wrote that a panel of the Sixth Circuit in EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, bucking the trend elsewhere, had held that an employer could be required to permit an employee to work from home as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Last week, however, the entire Sixth Circuit, in an 8-5 decision, issued an opinion overturning the panel’s decision and finding that in-person attendance at the work site is generally an essential function of most jobs, particularly those that are interactive. The court recognized that advances in technology may mean that regular on-site attendance won’t be necessary for every job, but noted that the job of Jane Harris, on whose behalf the EEOC brought suit, as a resale buyer for Ford was not one that could be done from home.

Through the years, Ford had made numerous attempts to reasonably accommodate Ms. Harris, who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, but none of these attempts, which included trials of telecommuting, were successful. Ultimately, Ms. Harris asked Ford to be permitted to work from home up to four days per week. The nature of her job, however, required teamwork, meetings with suppliers and stampers and on-site availability to participate in face-to-face interactions. These factors in the Court’s opinion all necessitated Ms. Harris to achieve regular and predictable on-site attendance. Accordingly, the Court upheld her termination from employment.
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit in EEOC v. Ford: Sometimes showing up really is an essential function of the job

I’m looking forward to joining my colleagues Dennis Hirsch and Jay Levine for a roundtable discussion of “Big data, data analytics and the law: What your company needs to know about the next big thing” on May 13. Here is a glimpse into what I plan to talk about from the employment lawyer’s perspective:

Even if we don’t know exactly how big data works, we know what it can do for us in our daily lives. Movie suggestions on Netflix. Targeted coupons at the grocery store. Cheap airfare and hotel rates. Facebook suggestions of people we may know. There is a certain creepiness to all of this but many (most?) of us seem willing to overlook it for the convenience and opportunities it provides.

Human resources departments now are figuring out how to use big data in the workplace. LinkedIn was one of the first businesses to recognize the value that data held for employers. At its most basic level, LinkedIn can steer its individual members to potentially attractive jobs that fit their profile and, for recruiters, it provides a rich database of candidates, including people who aren’t even looking for a new job. But there are a lot more than just recruiting opportunities. Companies like Knack now promote tests like Wasabi Waiter and Dungeon Scrawl that it claims will reveal job applicants’ talents, traits and skills to permit employers to identify the best candidate for their needs. JP Morgan Chase apparently has developed software that analyzes its own employees’ data to try to identify which ones are most likely to “go rogue,” so it has time to stop them before they do.
Continue Reading Big data in the workplace

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled last week in Keller v. Miri Microsystems that a technician who installed satellite dishes is entitled to a jury trial on the issue of whether he was improperly classified as an independent contractor and therefore entitled to overtime pay. Michael Keller argued that he was not

On March 18, 2015, NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr. issued Memorandum GC 15-04, which he intended to bring some clarity to the NLRB’s sweeping enforcement effort against employee handbook policies his office has deemed to be overbroad and infringing on workers’ Section 7 rights. All employers, particularly those that are not unionized,

For some, snowflakes bring thoughts of snowmen and sleigh rides. For others, they signal the beginning of closed business days, employees arriving late to work, and all sorts of other issues—all the result of inclement weather! This post takes a look at some of the common headaches that bad weather causes for employers and how

OFCCP issued proposed updated rules on sex discrimination for federal contractors covered by EO 11246. They will be officially published tomorrow. Contractors and interested parties can submit comments until March 31, 2015.

The proposed rules largely align with the obligations already imposed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which applies to most employers,