MN Employment Law Report

MN Employment Law Report

The Bottom Line on Labor & Employment Law

Category Archives: Discrimination

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Supreme Court Revives Pregnant Employee’s Claim

Posted in Discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court revived a pregnant employee’s discrimination claim against UPS, ruling that the employer’s policy of providing light-duty work only to employees meeting certain specifications (but not necessarily pregnant employees) may violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”). Background Peggy Young’s doctor restricted her to lifting no more than 20 pounds during her pregnancy. … Continue Reading

EEOC Announces Tougher Rules Protecting Pregnant Workers

Posted in Discrimination
Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) published Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (“Guidance”). The Guidance focused on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), which “make[s] clear that discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII.” The new… Continue Reading

OFCCP Announces 5-Year Moratorium on Enforcement for TRICARE Subcontractors

Posted in Discrimination
In a temporary win for health care providers, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) recently acknowledged the “difference in understanding” over the definition of a TRICARE subcontractor and announced a 5-year moratorium on enforcement of obligations related to affirmative action programs and recordkeeping for most health care providers affiliated… Continue Reading

Conducting Internal Investigations: Avoiding Claims of Intimidation and Coercion

Posted in Discrimination
Employers routinely conduct internal investigations in response to allegations of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, theft, and other forms of employee misconduct. While conducting such investigations can be critical to a business’s continued operations, employers should be mindful of the importance of exercising neutrality and fairness when doing so. An employer that exercises particularly aggressive interrogation tactics… Continue Reading

New EEOC Guidance on Background Checks and Religious Accommodations

Posted in Discrimination
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has published new guidance on two common areas of concern for employers: (1) employers’ responsibilities to accommodate religious dress and grooming in the workplace and (2) background checks on potential employees. Religious Dress Guidance On March 6, 2014, the EEOC released guidance concerning employers’ responsibilities under Title VII… Continue Reading

EEOC Responds to Criticism of its Position on Background Checks

Posted in Discrimination
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) remains undeterred from its skeptical view of blanket criminal background checks during the hiring process.  The EEOC’s recent response to a letter from nine state attorneys general underscored its firm stance. The EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance issued on April 25, 2012, proclaimed that an employer’s use of prior criminal convictions… Continue Reading

Risky Business: EEOC Going After Companies Using Blanket Background Checks

Posted in Discrimination
The issues of whether businesses can — or should — use background checks to screen job candidates is back in the news this month, with two high-profile companies facing lawsuits over their hiring practices. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has filed separate suits against Dollar General and BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC, claiming that… Continue Reading

EEOC Issues New Enforcement Guidance on the Use of Arrest and Conviction Records

Posted in Discrimination
On April 25, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new Enforcement Guidance on using arrest and conviction records when making employment decisions. The EEOC is aggressively pursuing this issue, as reflected by EEOC Commissioner Ishimaru’s remark at a recent public meeting that the EEOC is currently investigating hundreds of cases where employers… Continue Reading

Employers Should Think Twice before Logging In to an Applicant’s Facebook Account

Posted in Discrimination, Employment Advice
All of a sudden, the prospect of employers demanding Facebook passwords as part of the hiring process has burst onto the scene.  Cries of outrage have ensued – Facebook hinted at legal action, the ACLU is talking privacy-related lawsuits, state legislators (including one in Minnesota) are drafting bills in prohibiting the practice, and two U.S.… Continue Reading

Unlawful Background Check Policy Costs Pepsi Big

Posted in Discrimination
Last week, it was reported that Pepsi Beverages agreed to pay $3.13 million and provide job offers and training to resolve a charge of race discrimination filed in the Minneapolis Area Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).  News of the lawsuit should not be surprising because, as we previously reported, the EEOC… Continue Reading

Government Proposes Huge Changes For Federal Contractors and Disabled Individuals

Posted in Discrimination, Recent Legislation
On Friday December 9, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) published Proposed Regulations that may dramatically change federal contractors’ and subcontractors’ obligations regarding disabled applicants and employees.  Public comments on the proposed regulations are due by February 7, 2012. Currently, certain federal contractors and subcontractors must maintain affirmative… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules That a Class Action Can Be Too Big

Posted in Discrimination, Employment Litigation
As we previously reported, the Supreme Court was going to decide if a sex discrimination lawsuit potentially impacting 1.5 million former and current Wal-Mart employees was too big.  Yesterday, in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Court ruled that the class of employees suing the retail giant was too large and that the claims were… Continue Reading

Court’s Faith in Seniority System Trumps Employee’s Religious Beliefs

Posted in Discrimination
What happens when work assignments under a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) or other seniority system conflict with an employee’s religious beliefs?   Hosea Harrell was one of seven full time letter carriers for the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) station in Warrensburg, MO.  With the exception of the most senior employee, all of them were… Continue Reading

EEOC Publishes Final ADA Amendment Regulations

Posted in Discrimination
On March 25, 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its Final Regulations on how employers should interpret the 2008 amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  These regulations become effective in May, 2011. Specifically, the regulations reflect the view that the courts became overly restrictive in determining whether an individual with an… Continue Reading

Court Douses Fire Captain’s Disability Claim

Posted in Discrimination
St. Paul Fire Captain Scott St. Martin applied for promotion to one of three available district chief positions.  During the interview, Fire Chief Timothy Butler asked him “I understand you haven’t been working.  I know that you have an injury (reconstructive knee surgery).  What do you have?”  Despite passing the exam and being ranked second… Continue Reading

EEOC: GINA Limits Employer’s Use of Family Medical History

Posted in Discrimination
Enacted in 2008, the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”) passed under the radar of most employers.  However, recent interpretive regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) should make everybody take notice of this relatively new law. GINA applies to all employers covered by Title VII (those having 15 or more employees) and… Continue Reading

EEOC to Scrutinize Employers’ Use of Criminal Background Checks

Posted in Discrimination
On October 20, 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) continued its push to vastly curtail employers’ use of background checks to screen applicants. The push is part of the EEOC’s E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment), which is designed to develop “investigative and litigation strategies” with respect to employers’ use of criminal background checks and… Continue Reading

“Doing Nothing” Helps Employer Avoid Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

Posted in Discrimination, Retaliation
In the minefield of employment litigation, one mis-step can often result in even the most sophisticated client facing risk of liability for a number of employment law claims.  However, as one recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision illustrates, a little caution can go a long way. Imagine you have a white Human Resources (“HR”) professional who insists… Continue Reading

Contract-Based Discrimination for *Some* Independent Contractors Under the MHRA

Posted in Discrimination
We all know that the Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination.  However, a little-known provision in that law also bans contract-based discrimination, which makes it illegal for a person engaged in a trade or business: … to intentionally refuse to do business with, to refuse to contract with, or to discriminate in the basic… Continue Reading