News for March 6, 2017

Featured this week:

In state law news:

Featured this week:

Six-weeks between EEOC charge and firing enough to plausibly allege causal connection; retaliation claim revived
An African-American employee who claimed that she was fired six-weeks after filing an EEOC charge plausibly alleged a causal connection, ruled a divided Eighth Circuit in reversing the dismissal of her Title VII retaliation claim. However, all agreed that her race bias claim was properly tossed since she merely claimed that she was disciplined "for something that a Caucasian female employee did not accomplish" but not that the coworker was treated dissimilarly. Judge Loken filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. (Wilson v Arkansas Dept of Human Services, 8thCir, March 1, 2017, Benton, W.)

‘Critical need’ justified $20k pay disparity between female nurse practitioners and male counterpart
Finding that a hospital established why there was a "critical need" in its forensic unit at the time a male nurse practitioner was hired, and why his higher salary was necessary to avoid the understaffing of those authorized to prescribe medications, the Eleventh Circuit, in an unpublished decision, affirmed summary judgment in favor of the hospital against claims of pay discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. Two female nurse practitioners failed to show the hospital’s explanation for the $20,000 pay disparity was pretextual, the appeals court concluded. (Kalu v Florida Department of Children and Families, 11thCir, February 27, 2017, per curiam)

Shortening employee’s shift was reasonable accommodation of religious needs
Rejecting an employee’s assertion that shortening her workday by two hours and consequently diminishing her earnings was not a reasonable accommodation of her religious needs, a federal district court in Illinois explained that it was aware of no authority requiring that reasonable accommodations permit an employee to work as many hours as she otherwise would be entitled to. Although the court granted summary judgment against her religious discrimination claim, it found fact issues as to whether her employer regarded her as disabled under the ADA as a result of a sprained left wrist and as to whether it could have reasonably accommodated that perceived disability. (Smith v Concentra, Inc, NDIll, March 1, 2017, Coleman, S.)

Hostile and unfriendly treatment was enough to send retaliation claim to jury
A groundskeeper who was initially allowed to wear knee pads for his swollen knees but whose medical conditions ultimately required him to take indefinite medical leave, and who also claimed he suffered hostile treatment by his superiors after he filed an administrative charge asserting they unfairly stopped allowing him to wear the knee pads, failed to defeat summary judgment on his ADA claims of failure-to-accommodate and disability bias, but his retaliation claim could advance to trial. A federal court in New York found he failed to show any accommodation would have allowed him to perform his job and that he didn’t suffer an adverse job action for purposes of his bias claim. However, his superiors’ hostile treatment might meet the broader retaliation standard. (Bien-Aime v Equity Residential, SDNY, February 22, 2017, Caproni, V.)

OFCCP advances complaint revision to include sexual orientation, gender identity as protected bases
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced that it is submitting to the Office of Management and Budget for review and approval its information collection request revision titled, "Complaint Involving Employment Discrimination by a Federal Contractor or Subcontractor." The request would revise Form CC–4 to reflect a pair of amendments to Executive Order 11246 that added "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected bases, and protect applicants and employees who inquire about, discuss, or disclose compensation.

Willis Towers Watson warns employers about human element of cyber risk
Willis Towers Watson is urging businesses to focus more on employees and company culture in efforts to manage cyber risk. The company warned that many organizations continue to focus on the technology aspect of cyber defense, which is crucial, but often at the expense of people risks, which represent the largest source of data breach claims.

Employers evolve benefits to fight opioid epidemic
The opioid epidemic has found its way into the workplace with employers evolving their benefits offerings to help fight prescription drug abuse, according to a new report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Research reveals nearly half of U.S. companies report scarcity of qualified candidates
A recent analysis by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry shows a significant scarcity of qualified job candidates among U.S. companies, with 41 percent of analyzed organizations reporting difficulty finding the right talent for needed roles.

In state law news:

Delaware EO mandates uniform antidiscrimination policy
On March 1, Delaware Governor John Carney signed Executive Order 6 to establish a uniform antidiscrimination policy across state government. The Action Plan for Delaware, the report submitted to the Democratic governor by his transition team, called for creation of a consistent antidiscrimination policy, according to his press release. The EO mandates implementation of the new policy by April 1.

Ark. Sup. Ct.: State high court invalidates local anti-LGBT bias ordinance
A Fayetteville, Arkansas ordinance aimed at extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT citizens violated a state law enacted with the specific purpose of ensuring uniformity of nondiscrimination laws across the state, the Arkansas Supreme Court held.

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Special Report

Study connects the dots between essential health care and paid sick leave

Researchers from Cleveland State University and Florida Atlantic University have found that regardless of sociodemographic factors, workers who lack paid sick leave were significantly less likely to have received preventive health care screenings in the last 12 months—even among those who have been told they have a condition such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease that places them at higher medical risk. Moreover, workers without paid sick leave are 1.6 times less likely to have received a flu shot in the past 12 months, according to the research announced on March 1.

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