Special thanks to guest contributors Ginger Partee and Matthew Gorman.

As the country awaits confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general to head the U.S. Department of Justice, employers in the U.S. should begin to consider what a Biden administration DOJ might mean for their workplace.

Biden has appointed

With special thanks to Bradford Newman for this post. 

Ten U.S. senators sent a joint letter to Janet Dhillon, the chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on Dec. 8, 2020, urging the EEOC to use its powers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “investigate and/or enforce against discrimination related

On June 15, 2020, the US Supreme Court changed the face of federal workplace anti-discrimination laws. In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Court ruled that Title VII’s prohibition against job discrimination on the basis of “sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Though Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has long-prohibited employers from discriminating on the basis of color, national origin, race, religion, and sex, the question of whether sexual orientation and gender identity were included in the definition of “sex” went unsettled — until now.

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court in the 6-3 opinion. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” Justice Gorsuch and fellow conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor in the majority.


Continue Reading Support for LGBTQ Rights, with a Signal for Religious Liberty: What Does Bostock Actually Mean for Employers?

Even though vacation plans may be hampered by face coverings and social distancing this summer, US employers are still likely to see requests for time off from employees who want to step away from sheltering-in-place and visit reopening regions. But while employers may agree that their employees should take a break from work, they shouldn’t agree to putting other employees or customers at higher risk of catching COVID-19 when a traveling employee returns.

What can US employers do-without crossing the line-to keep tabs on vacationing US employees? We address some common questions in the following Q&A.

Q.  Can I ask my employees about their travel plans when they request vacation time? Or can I ask them where they went when they return from vacation?

A.  Yes, you can ask employees requesting vacation time to disclose their travel plans (or ask employees where they traveled once they return). The key is to make sure the information you’re requesting is in accordance with business necessity and that you are asking for the information in a non-discriminatory manner.

Business necessity: Employers have a general duty under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure that the workplace is free from recognizable hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Keeping the workplace and employees free from cases of COVID-19 provides the business justification employers need to ask where employees are going during their time off. If your workforce is still working remotely, you have a business justification to make sure your employee travels with a company laptop or other necessary equipment should the employee become stranded or be required to quarantine upon return. Employees may want to know why you’re asking about their personal vacation plans; be prepared to explain why you’re asking.


Continue Reading What the Traveler Saw: Handling Employee Vacation Requests During COVID-19

On the heels of the Second Circuit’s decision that sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII, advocates for LGBTQ rights scored another victory in federal court. On March 7, 2018, the Sixth Circuit unanimously ruled in EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. that discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status violates Title VII’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination.

Continue Reading Another Federal Court Victory For LGBTQ Rights–The Sixth Circuit Follows The Lead Of The Second And The Seventh Circuits

On February 26, 2018, the Second Circuit became the second federal appellate court to rule that sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, following the Seventh Circuit’s April 2017 decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, which reached the same conclusion.

Continue Reading Diverging From The DOJ, The Second Circuit Rules That Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Prohibited By Title VII

Last Tuesday, in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (with jurisdiction over the courts in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) became the first federal circuit to explicitly rule that sexual orientation is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In so doing, the Seventh Circuit