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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – July 9 - 15, 2017

Below is a review of the posts (on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) from the past week.  You can check out the full posts by clicking on the links.

In the post on Sunday 7/9/17 we saw that the Feds say KPMG discriminated against Asians. Yep. There was an investigation that took about 1-1/2 years, with the result being that the company (allegedly) discriminated against 60 Asian applicants. This violated an Executive Order, hence the suit. More background info is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Whether you are a federal contractor or a private employer, don't take adverse action based on a protected characteristic (including race, color and national origin).

The post on Monday 7/10/17 noted workers sue over workplace discrimination, English-only policy. Who were the offenders? Two nation-wide debt collection companies who allegedly discriminated against Spanish-speaking employees. For what? Speaking in Spanish (1) to Spanish-speaking cardholders on whose accounts they were trying to collect and (2) among themselves. Neither really makes sense, especially when you see more background in the post. One of the companies is even based in PA (not something this author wants to scream from the rooftops).

TAKEAWAY: Language implicates national origin, a protected characteristic, so be careful when restricting the language(s) your employees may speak in the workplace.

In the post on Tuesday 7/11/17 we learned that JP Morgan Chase NA is accused of discriminating against fathers. The post tells us the different amounts of leave given to caregivers and non-caregivers after birth – and that birth mothers are initially listed as the primary caregivers. The father in the post is now the plaintiff in a suit filed against JPMorgan on the basis of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender stereotypes.

TAKEAWAY: Ensure that your policies are gender-neutral. Period.

The post on Wednesday 7/12/17 told us a transgender worker sues McDonald's alleging horrific discrimination and harassment. A manager once commented to La-Ray Reed, a transgender woman, "You think I don’t know what you are because of how you dress and look?” Even after she asked them to stop, that manager and other managers and co-workers did and said other things as listed in the post – too sad this still occurs in today's society! To top it off, she was fired after reporting discrimination. Ugh.

TAKEAWAY: Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation may be legal in PA, but the EEOC has said it is illegal. Do you really want to take the chance that you might be found liable?

In the post on Thursday 7/13/17 we learned that a gentlemen's club faces a gender discrimination suit by the EEOC. What happened? The EEOC says that a club in Florida did not hire a man for an advertised bartender position (despite his experience) and then hired 2 or more females for the position. The other allegations in the suit are also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: I am unaware of gender being a qualification for almost any job, so don't insert it into the mix (unless you want the word "defendant" after your name in a lawsuit).

The post on Friday 7/14/17 noted that Pennsylvania is split on sexual orientation discrimination (and suggested that you play it safe - don't discriminate on that basis). Yes Virginia, 2 federal courts in Pennsylvania ruled 2 different ways on the question of whether sexual orientation is a protected class under Title VII. As noted in the post, just last month the Eastern District said no. Late last year the Western District said yes. Both cases dealt with gale male employees alleging workplace discrimination due to sexual orientation. The Eastern District relied on an old Third Circuit case, but see the post for what may be prescient from that decision.

TAKEAWAY: The US Supreme Court will have to settle the issue on a nationwide basis, but has not yet done so; in the meantime, just because you may be able to legally discriminate against a PA employee on the basis of sexual orientation does not mean you should do so.

Finally, in the post yesterday 7/15/17 we read about 4 unintentionally sexist phrases (and suggested you don't use them. At all). We all say things that sound innocuous to us but may come across differently to others. Some just don't belong in the workplace, including "She is the office mom" (which demeans women and underscores the other contributions the woman makes). The other 3 are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Think before you speak – about whether what you are about to say could be taken by your listener(s) in a way other than how you intend it, and then perhaps change your language.

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