Posts tagged Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services.

The status, the arguments, and my predictions.

Let's look at the arguments, pro and con, that the Supreme Court is likely to hear someday.

Scuba Intro.flickrCC.ScottAs we reported early this morning, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana that the prohibition in Title VII against discrimination based on “sex” encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is the first federal appellate court to do so, although recent decisions from other federal appeals ...

This latest decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on sexual orientation discrimination is weird. A panel of the court found 2-1 in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital that the plaintiff did not have a valid Title VII claim against her employer for sexual orientation discrimination. Whether you agree with it or not, the panel opinion was fairly ...

How much can you do - and not do - about your employees' personal appearance and grooming? Take this quiz and find out! As usual, I'll have the answers at the end, so if you get one wrong, no one but you will know.

Ugly Fake Glasses.flickrCC.LoganIngalls
"Don't hate me because I'm ugly."

QUESTION 1: If I operate in a jurisdiction that doesn't have a law against appearance discrimination, I can make any rules about appearance and grooming that I want. 

TRUE

FALSE

QUESTION 2: My employees are required by OSHA to wear masks on the job. The masks are no good unless there is a proper seal around the employee's mouth and nose. Since facial hair prevents a good seal from forming, we have a no-beard policy. I have one employee who is Sikh and wears a beard for religious reasons. What should I do?

A. Let him keep his beard and pray that the mask will work without the proper seal.

B. Tell him he has to shave the beard off or lose his job.

C. Meet with him and explain that the mask is required by OSHA and the safety rationale for the rule. Talk with him about reasonable accommodations, which might include use of a different type of mask that works with a beard, or transfer to another position that doesn't require use of a mask. After you've talked and perhaps consulted with vendors or safety experts, make a determination of what to do that won't violate the law or endanger his safety while accommodating his beliefs as much as you can.

UPDATE (10/14/16): The Hively decision discussed below was issued by a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit. This week, the full Seventh Circuit set aside the decision and agreed to rehear the case with all of the judges participating. Here is a copy of the order. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided last week in Hively v. Ivy Tech Man scratching head.flickrCC.RobbieBillerCommunity College that sexual ...

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a "friend of the court" brief in a sexual orientation discrimination appeal, arguing that sexual orientation discrimination is "sex discrimination" prohibited by Title VII. (Thanks to EEOC General Counsel David Lopez for alerting me.)

I am a skeptic on this subject. Title VII was enacted in 1964, and legend has it that sex ...

Last week I heard David Lopez, General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, speak about EEOC litigation developments at the annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor and Employment Law conference.David Lopez.EEOC photo

The EEOC has been litigating like a house afire, so I knew you would want to hear what he had to say. Mr. Lopez - who reads this blog and likes it! - gave me permission to ...

It has been a busy week. Muslim headscarves, tech exec's tweets get him fired, and Lady Gaga is going to trial!

UPDATE ON LADY GAGA (10/22/13): She has settled her case.

Abercrombie gets fitched, and HR doesn't always get it right. I have previously reported on the litigation against Abercrombie & Fitch and its "looks policy" which at one time did not allow head coverings, even if worn for ...

Employers, is your appearance code so important that you would pay more than $150,000 to ban a $10 accessory in the workplace? 

This is the story of the $150,000 lanyard.

If you are ignorant like me, you are thinking, "What the heck is a lanyard? Isn't that a part of a ship?" (Actually, I am sure that no one but me is that ignorant.)

A lanyard, I am ashamed to admit I have only recently learned, is ...

Robin Shea has 30 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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