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E&U Law Blog

Second Circuit Decides Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination - Is a Supreme Court Showdown Next?

On February 26, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York issued its en banc decision in Zarda v. Altitude Express, 883 F.3d 100 (2nd Cir. 2018), holding that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Altitude Express terminated Donald Zarda, a Long Island sky-diving instructor, in 2010. As Mr. Zarda prepared for a tandem sky-dive with a female student, he told her that he was "100 percent gay," and the student's boyfriend later complained to Altitude Express, which then terminated Mr. Zarda's employment. Mr. Zarda commenced a lawsuit in the federal U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, asserting that his firing violated Title VII.

The New Tax Law and Changes that May Affect You

Ivory.jpg

By Ivory Umanah

February 7, 2018
Dear Friends/Clients:


President Trump signed tax reform legislation, Public Law 115-97, generally referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, into law on December 22, 2017. The Act is the most sweeping tax legislation to be enacted in decades. It is broad in scope, complicated, and will impact almost every aspect of tax, legal, estate, retirement, business and other planning. While there has been substantial media coverage of selected aspects of the new law, that coverage has barely touched the myriad of provisions that might be relevant to you. 

Are ADA Interference Claims on the Verge of Becoming Mainstream in Employment Cases?

Attorneys litigating claims pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") usually focus on failures by an employer to accommodate a disability, their failures to engage in an interactive process related to an accommodation request, or retaliation. A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Frakes v. Peoria School District No. 150, 872 F.3d 545 (7th Cir. Sept. 26, 2017), however, clearly articulated the elements to prove for an ADA interference claim. The ADA contains prohibitions against both retaliation (42 U.S.C. § 12203(a)) and interference (42 U.S.C. § 12203(b)). This distinguishes the ADA from most other EEO laws, which only prohibit retaliation, but do not reference interference in any manner.

Sex Harassment in the News and Employer's Obligations

Sex harassment has filled the news media for several weeks with accounts of misdeeds of Hollywood producers, actors, congressmen, senate candidates, media personalities and, close to our home, the resignations of legislative members and the apologies of Senator Franken.

The Downsizing Generation: How to Handle a Surplus of Stuff When a Loved One Ages

As the baby boomer generation ages-and downsizes-more and more adult children will be tasked with going through their loved one's belongings to decide what to do with everything. As more and more people downsize after retirement, china sets, furniture, heirlooms, and other belongings are often left behind and unwanted. 

Are Professional Football Players Protests Protected by Minnesota State or Federal Law?

With President Trump's announcement to fire the "SOBs" who kneel in disrespect to the flag and national anthem, the whole NFL protest has been the subject of discussion in our office. This brought up the question of whether firing the "SOBs" would be permissible, or retaliation under some law.

EMPLOYERS BEWARE: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Finds Workplace Recording Policy is Unlawful

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently became the second federal appeals court to hold an employer's policy prohibiting photographing and recording in the workplace violates the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"). The Court held unlawful the employer's policy that prohibited all "photography and audio or video recording in the workplace" without prior permission from a manager, human resources, or the employer's legal department. (T-Mobile USA, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board).1

Google - An Opportunity Lost

Google found itself in the middle of a situation regarding diversity and free speech this month. The basic facts are this-a tech employee, on a Google sponsored message board, wrote a ten page "manifesto" offering "biological" reasons for the abundance of males in Google's tech area, potential solutions for remedying this disparity and challenging Google's diversity activities as discriminatory, among other things. Somehow the document was leaked outside Google and, on the progressive side, the manifesto was met with outrage for its alleged biases and stereotypes. On the alt-right side, it was welcomed as a reasoned assault on rampant political correctness. I encourage readers to look at the manifesto yourself and make your own conclusions. Having done so, I don't see the author as malicious or evil or a right wing zealot. Either way, Google found itself on the horns of a dilemma. On one hand it values the free expression of ideas without fear or shame. On the other, it values its commitment against bias and to promote diversity in the workplace. What it ended up doing was to fire the author. Now the author, James Damore, has become a pariah to the left, and a sacrifice to the altar of political correctness to the right. After reading the statement of the CEO, I thought of 1984 by George Orwell. Google says it "strongly " supports the right of employees to express themselves, even with unpopular ideas, yet the message remains, if they do so, they violate the Code of Conduct. See statement of Google CEO here. https://www.blog.google/topics/diversity/note-employees-ceo-sundar-pichai/ Google has only itself to blame for the division that has exploded within its workforce, its users, and the internet because of this event. It has demonstrated it has a no tolerance policy regarding diversity-diversity of thought that is.

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