Category: Race Discrimination

Workplace Language and Hostile Environment Claims

Workplace Language and Hostile Environment Claims

It is one of the nightmare scenarios for any HR Department or in-house employment counsel: A white employee directing crude, vicious, racially charged slurs at a coworker of color. Perhaps the most inflammatory of such racial epithets is so toxic that it is typically no longer even spelled out in judicial opinions; it is simply the “n-word.” But employees do...

Quirky Question #287:  “Cat’s Paw” Claims – How could an employer violate antidiscrimination laws, even though the decision-making manager has no discriminatory bias at all?

Quirky Question #287: “Cat’s Paw” Claims – How could an employer violate antidiscrimination laws, even though the decision-making manager has no discriminatory bias at all?

Question: We just went through a five-person layoff, and one of the individuals laid off (an African American) has hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue for racial discrimination. I have enormous confidence in the fairness of the individual manager making the layoff selections, and those selections were based on years of performance ratings.  However, the lawyer hired by our...

EEOC Guidance On Use of Criminal History in Employment Decisions

EEOC Guidance On Use of Criminal History in Employment Decisions

When Is a Proscription on Convictions an Impermissible Predilection?  EEOC Issues New Guidance on the Use of Criminal History in Employment Earlier this week, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued updated Enforcement Guidance (“Guidance”) regarding the circumstances under which employers permissibly may, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), rely on arrest...

Discrimination on the Basis of Color, Quirky Question # 134

Discrimination on the Basis of Color, Quirky Question # 134

Quirky Question # 134: My company is planning a reduction in our workforce, which largely consists of African-Americans.  I understand that when a company conducts a mass layoff, it should make sure the layoff does not disproportionately affect older workers, women or men, or employees of a particular race, or else the company risks being accused of discrimination.  But doesn’t...

Ricci v. DeStefano, Supreme Court Ruling In Adverse Impact Case

Ricci v. DeStefano, Supreme Court Ruling In Adverse Impact Case

Ricci v. DeStefano, Supreme Court Holds Employer Liable for Trying to Avoid Claims of Adverse Impact Discrimination On June 29, the United States Supreme Court issued its highly-anticipated and highly-divisive decision in the “white firefighters case,” Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. __ (2009). This 5-4 decision may have significant implications for both “disparate impact” and “disparate treatment” discrimination claims. Disparate-treatment...

Associational Discrimination, Quirky Question # 87

Associational Discrimination, Quirky Question # 87

Quirky Question # 87: Some time ago, you wrote an analysis about discrimination on the basis of inter-racial marriage.  We are confronting a slightly different problem.  Several of our Caucasian employees have complained that they have been discriminated against because of their friendships with their African American co-workers.  These individuals are not married to the African Americans and they have...

Discrimination Based on Inter-Racial Marriage, Quirky Question # 77

Discrimination Based on Inter-Racial Marriage, Quirky Question # 77

Quirky Question # 77: One of our employees, who is Caucasian, recently complained that his manager has been treating him unfairly in a variety of ways.  He claims that his manager is discriminating against him because he is married to an African American woman.  Putting aside the issue of whether the manager actually is treating him unfairly, does Title VII...

California Oddities, Quirky Question # 75

California Oddities, Quirky Question # 75

Quirky Question # 75: We are a California employer and were just hit with a lawsuit by a former employee for acts that supposedly took place almost three years ago.  Our former employee alleges that in January 2006, his supervisor asked him to fire three Asian-Americans who work in an otherwise all Caucasian department.  The former employee alleges that he...

Offensive Music Lyrics as Title VII Violation, Quirky Question # 73

Offensive Music Lyrics as Title VII Violation, Quirky Question # 73

Quirky Question # 73: We have a work environment where employees have cubicles that are approximately shoulder height.  Some employees have radios or CD players in their cubicles.  We generally don’t interfere with their musical selections, recognizing that people have different musical tastes.  (We do ask our employees to keep the volume down so they don’t bother their co-workers.)  We...

Quirky Question # 29, Maintaining Electronic Records

Quirky Question # 29, Maintaining Electronic Records

Quirky Question # 29: Our company has offices in California.  This year we want to improve our document retention practices.  We’ve decided to maintain electronic records of personnel files.  Can we do this in California?  We were told that California law requires the records to be available at the job site.  If this is true, can we switch to an...