Posts in Discrimination.

The proposal to do away with confidentiality in sexual harassment settlements is likely to hurt victims at least as much as it exposes perps.

I do not think "associational discrimination" means what you think it means.

The issue of whether Title VII prohibits sexual orientation bias will have to be resolved another day.

A boss who grabs an employee's breasts without her consent is indeed guilty of sexual harassment.

The feds are talking about NLRB-EEOC coordination, an end to collection of compensation data, and an inflation-indexed salary test for the overtime exemption. Here's the scoop.

Asserting that the U.S. Department of Justice “must interpret Title VII as written by Congress,” the DOJ is reversing the Obama-era interpretation of Title VII, taking the position that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

In a memorandum issued this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ formally withdrew a 2014 memorandum by then-Attorney General Eric Holder taking the contrary position.

Attorney General Sessions contends that transgender individuals are protected from discrimination based on sex, but not based on “gender identity per se.” He noted that Title VII refers only to discrimination based on “sex,” which is “ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female.” He also noted that Congress had specifically referred to gender identity in other contexts, indicating that it would have done so in Title VII had that been its intent. Finally, he said that Title VII did not prohibit treatment “that [took] account of the sex of employees but [did] not impose different burdens on similarly situated members of each sex,” specifically referencing sex-specific bathrooms.

The memorandum concludes as follows:

The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections. Nor does this memorandum remove or reduce the protections against discrimination on the basis of sex that Congress has provided all individuals, including transgender individuals, under Title VII. . . . The Department of Justice has vigorously enforced [federal laws specifically protecting transgender individuals], and will continue to do so, on behalf of all Americans, including transgender Americans.

The DOJ position is not a surprise, given that it recently submitted a “friend of the court” brief making roughly the same arguments in a sexual orientation discrimination case.

This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a “multimonth leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In doing so, the court rejected longstanding guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a long-term medical leave is a reasonable accommodation when the leave is (1) definite and time-limited (not open ended); (2) requested in advance; and (3) likely to enable the employee to perform the essential job functions on return. Noting that under the EEOC’s position “the length of leave does not matter,” the court characterized it as an “open-ended extension” of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.)

Last week, I received a scathing comment from Dale Kleber, a Chicago-area lawyer and a plaintiff in an age discrimination lawsuit. Mr. Kleber did not like my gut reaction to his lawsuit, which was based on an article that I’d read in The Washington Post. It appeared to me that Mr. Kleber — then a 58-year-old lawyer with roughly 30 years of experience, including experience as a CEO of a dairy industry trade group, Chief Legal Counsel, and General Counsel — was rejected for a low-level in-house staff attorney position because he was overqualified for the position, not because he was 58 years old.

Prompted by Mr. Kleber’s comment, I have now read the court papers (well, a lot of them, anyway).*

*Mr. Kleber’s case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, but it is still in the very early stages. For you procedural nerds, I’ve included a summary at the end of this post. Non-nerds can skip it.

Now that I know more about Mr. Kleber’s lawsuit, I haven’t changed my mind. In other words, I still think he was rejected for being overqualified.

Can’t “overqualified” be a code word for “too old”? Yes, but not necessarily. Read on!

With President Trump in office for nine months now, it is hard to believe that none of his people are yet on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The four currentCommissioners, including the Acting Chair, Republican Victoria Lipnic, and former Chair Jenny Yang, were all appointed by President Obama.

But that may change soon. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held hearings this week on the nominations of Janet Dhillon for EEOC Chair and Daniel Gade for EEOC Commissioner.

(The Senate confirmation vote for William Emanuel, whose nomination as a Member of the National Labor Relations Board has been pending for quite some time, is expected to take place imminently.)

Here’s what we have learned about Ms. Dhillon and Dr. Gade from this week’s HELP Committee testimony, according to an article in Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Labor Report:

Has the world gone crazy?

A. No.

B. Yes.

C. The word “crazy” is a microaggression.

ANSWER: B.

Welcome to our world! 

See how you do with these guaranteed true news items from the last week, all relating to employment law. Then tell me whether you agree that we are living in some crazy times. YCMTSU.*

*You Can’t Make This Stuff Up. (I think this cliche has earned an internet acronym ...

Robin Shea has more than 20 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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