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John is a partner in the Labor and Employment Department. He has practiced exclusively in the labor and employment law field for more than 35 years, representing employers throughout the country in administrative, arbitration, mediation, trial and appellate proceedings.

In a unanimous decision on June 29, 2023, the United States Supreme Court clarified, without overruling, a decision on religious belief accommodations that has guided employers since 1977. According to the Supreme Court, what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), lower courts, employment lawyers and human resource professionals have for nearly 50 years considered to be the test for assessing “undue hardship” when accommodating religious beliefs was never intended to provide such a standard. Continue Reading United States Supreme Court clarifies employer duty to accommodate religious beliefs

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently provided employers a useful reminder of how important it is to promptly investigate allegations of harassment, or other types of discrimination, even when it appears that such investigation may be fruitless.

In Jane Doe v City of Detroit, the court upheld summary judgment for Detroit on a transgender employee’s complaint of harassment. Specifically, the employee complained that an unknown person had defaced her nameplate by scratching the word “Mr.” on it, and she had received anonymous notes citing Bible verses, commenting on her transgender identity and stating that people like her should be put to death.
Continue Reading Prompt investigation can be critical to avoiding liability for harassment

On Aug. 3, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated several significant portions of a Department of Labor (DOL) Final Rule which employers had been relying upon to administer employee leave requests pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Although it is too early to know if the decision will be affirmed on appeal, or adopted by courts in other jurisdictions, employers should anticipate a renewed interest for FFCRA leave among employees previously  denied it or who believed it was unavailable. And those who continue to rely on the DOL’s rule to deny such requests will be doing so at their own risk.
Continue Reading Federal court muddies waters for employers navigating FFCRA leave issues

Employers with facilities in New York are probably aware of the significant piece of anti-discrimination legislation Gov. Cuomo signed recently. The new law:

  • expands coverage to all employers regardless of size;woman in conference room
  • expands protections against discrimination to certain non-employees;
  • increases the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims from one to three years;
  • adds punitive damages and mandatory attorneys’ fees as potential remedies;
  • prohibits mandatory arbitration of discrimination claims;
  • adds to the notice requirements an employer must provide regarding its sexual harassment policy, including in the language identified by any employee as their primary language; and
  • places significant specific restrictions upon the use of non-disclosure agreements

While these changes are certainly significant, the more troubling aspect of the law for employers and their counsel may be its expansive definition of sexual harassment as well as its open dismissiveness of federal law.
Continue Reading New York’s new discrimination law—Aberration or the start of a trend?

No, this is not another comment on the much-publicized and highly politicized complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board (“Board” or “NLRB”) against Boeing for allegedly moving work from Washington to South Carolina in retaliation for protected union activity. Rather, it pertains to Sheet Metal Workers Local 15 (Brandon Medical Center) and Auto Workers Local 376 (Colt’s Mfg. Co.), decisions issued by the Board on May 26 and May 27, 2011, respectively.
Continue Reading NLRB Befriends Unions Again, and Again

According to statistics released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) earlier this week, the Agency received over 7% more charges in 2010 than it did the previous year—99,922 as compared to 93,277.  Indeed, the number of charges filed were up in every category.  The FY 2010 enforcement and litigation statistics, which include trend data, are available

You may have noticed a spate of recent articles and announcements indicating that “all federal contractors” will be required to begin using the federal government’s E-Verify system beginning September 8, 2009. Originally set to take effect on January 15, 2009, there have been three prior delays in implementing mandatory use of E-Verify for federal contractors. On August 26, however, a federal district judge rejected a request for further delay, so it appears the E-Verify regulations will actually go into effect on September 8. (See our recent blog post.) In light of this, current contractors should start thinking about how E-Verify will affect them – if at all.  

Even though many of the articles on this topic indicate that “all federal contractors” are required to start using the system on September 8, the reality is that not all contractors will be covered and that even covered contractors have time after September 8 to enroll and start using E-Verify. Continue Reading E-Verify: What Does This Mean For My Company?

After more than a decade of effort, supporters of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) were finally granted their wish. Passed overwhelmingly by the Senate (95-0) and House (414-1), GINA was signed into law today, May 21, 2008, by President Bush. Title I prohibits genetic discrimination in the area of health insurance while Title II ensures nondiscrimination in the employment arena.

Employers have plenty of time to bring their plans and workplaces into compliance. The Act’s group health plan provisions are effective for plan years beginning one year after enactment. The employment provisions become effective 18 months after enactment – November 21, 2009. Continue Reading Dream of GINA Now a Reality