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In the majority of situations, it is illegal to discriminate against an applicant for a job based on the way they look. Many times not hiring someone based on their looks can be a subtle (or not so subtle) form of discrimination. A recent lawsuit evaluated whether wearing dreadlocks could be considered prohibited race discrimination. In this instance, the court determined that not hiring someone because they wore dreadlocks is not prohibited race discrimination. In explaining its ruling, the court noted that where negative employment action – such as refusing to hire someone – is based on a “mutable” or changeable attribute, the employer is within the law. However, where negative action is taken based on a physical attribute that cannot be changed, the conduct may be considered discriminatory. Hence in its opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan explained …” discrimination on the basis of black hair texture (an immutable characteristic) is prohibited by Title VII, while adverse action on the basis of black hairstyle (a mutable choice) is not.”

This ruling has created a substantial amount of public backlash, and will potentially face appeal. If you have questions, or believe that you have been wrongfully discriminated against, it is important to determine your right and take immediate action. For more information, please contact the experienced Atlanta employment attorneys at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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In certain situations overweight workers may suffer employment discrimination – i.e. they may not get job offers or promotions that they are deserving of due to a bias against larger workers.  A question that often arises is if this is discriminatory.  While weight discrimination is not included as one of the protected categories pursuant to Title VII, some protections do exists.
For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may require an employer make certain reasonable accomodations to help an overweight worker perform his or her job.  At least one federal district court has determined that obesity it an impairment under the ADA, and thus termination due to weight could constitute illegal discrimination.
A handful of state and local governments also have ordinances protecting workers from weight discirmination.
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A recent report from the Justice Department notes that the U.S. has created a formal task force with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the United Mexican States to help protect workers from employment discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status and national origin.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibit these types of employment discrimination, but far too often Mexican workers and other immigrant populations experience race and national origin discrimination at work, but are unaware of their rights and how to fight back.

The new partnership will work together to provide workers the education and resources necessary to protect themselves against unlawful workplace practices.

For more information, or if you believe that you or a loved one has suffered from employment discrimination, please contact the experienced and dedicated national origin discrimination lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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A recent report raised the question, why does substantial silence continue to exist surrounding pregnancy discrimination in the workplace?   One reason suggested it has a disporpotionate affect on hourly female workers, who may lack the resources to challenge discrimination.
Pregnancy discrimination charges have increased substantially since 1978 when the Pregnacy Discrimination Act (PDA) was first enacted.  In fact, in 2014 lawsuits related to pregnancy made up to roughly 20 percent of all employment discrimination lawusuits filed pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  The PDA amended Title VII to include pregnancy and child birth within the sex discimination umbrellla.  Additonally, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employers must take reasonable steps to accomodate certain qualified workers.  In certain situations, this may cover pregnant employees.

An interesting conclusion of the report was that courts have been generally supportive of claims based on pregnancy discrimination claims that assert violations of Title VII, i.e. that they were treated differently than their non-pregnant counterparts.
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A recent U.S. District Court decision threatens to allow employment discrimination by certain employers.  In EEOC v. Harris, a Detroit area district court judge determined that a funeral company could fire a transgender employee based on the owners religious belief that gender transitioning was against the bible. Allowing a company to allow discrimination based on religious beliefs sets a dangerous precedent, and follows on the footsteps of the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed companies to go against the Affordable Care Acts contraceptive mandate based on religious ideaology.

In the current case, Anthony Stevens joined a funeral company as a funeral director in 2007.  In 2013 she informed her employer that she would transition to her female identity, and begin living and working as a woman before going through gender reassingment surgery.  She was fired two weeks later.
The ACLU asserted that ruling in the funeral homes favor could potentially have staggering effects, arguing among other things  “… If religious motivation exempted businesses from anti-discrimination laws, our government would be powerless to enforce those laws.”
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A public defender has just filed a employment discrimination case alleging pregnancy discrimination.   According to reports, the woman asserted that she was passed over for two promotions because she was pregnant, and now is facing retaliation as the result of her filing a tort claim and an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint based on her employers actions.

Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against women who are pregnant.  Further, taking retaliatory actions for complaining about bias – even if the underlying conduct is not found to be discriminatory – may be illegal.

In this instance, the woman claimed she took maternity leave for two-months, when she returned she realized that her promotion went to a less qualified male colleague.  After complaining she received undue scrutiny of her work, while her male colleagues didn’t undergo the same scrutiny.  Additionally, her supervisors questioned her regarding the types of cases she wanted to take after the baby was born – a question that males with children were not asked.  Under certain circumstances, such disparate treatment may be considered sexism and gender discrimination.

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As the workforce ages, the incidence of age discrimination has been rapidly growing. The United States Census Bureau predicts that by 2022, about 35% of the U.S. labor force will be over 50. This is a 10% increase from where it was in 2002.   This comes with a price for older workers who may find themselves being squeezed out of their positions in favor of younger – and lower paid – workers.

While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was designed to protect older workers (those over 40 years old) by prohibiting discrimination in terms of employment (whether hiring, firing or failing to promote), a series of Supreme Court rulings have made it harder to prove bias has occurred. For example, a plaintiff seeking to show discrimination has occur, must establish that age was a main factor in a decision to fire a worker, and not just a contributing factor.

Legislation has been introduced seeking to provide greater protections to older workers, called the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act – but thus far it has never reached a vote.

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According to employment news, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is conducting an investigation into Google’s employment practices. At issue, the allegation that Google discriminates in its hiring practices based on age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discriminating against people who are 40 or older in terms of employment – whether hiring, firing or failing to promote. In this instance the investigation has begun as the result of several claims have been made against the tech giant, including that Google failed to hire individuals for engineering jobs based on their age.

If you believe that you have suffered employment discrimination, it is important to speak with a private attorney who can discuss your matter and help you determine your next steps. If you would like to pursue a discrimination lawsuit, the first step is to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will then conduct an investigation into the charges. At the close of its investigation, the EEOC will provide you with a Notice of Right to Sue. Your attorney may then file a lawsuit on your behalf in court.

Where age discrimination is alleged, issues such as hiring practices and whether a more qualified candidate was passed over for a younger candidate, or whether harassing or negative comments are directed toward older workers, are significant in showing whether discrimination occurred. For more information, or if you believe that you have been subjected to age discrimination, please contact the experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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A Georgia congressman is fighting to include the LGBTQ community as a protected category pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  A recent poll has found that roughly 75% of Americans believe that sexual orientation should be protected from discrimination.   Congressman John Lewis, a representative from Georgia’s 5th District, is a co-sponsor of the “Equality Act” that seeks to add sexual orientation and gender identify to federal law.

A representative of the Human Right Campaign – a lobbying group that supports these efforts notes, “No one should be left behind, whether you’re straight or gay.  It should be equality for all.”

Currently, Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals due to their race, gender, religion or national origin

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According to recent employment news reports, retailer Macy’s has agreed to settle employment discrimination charges in order to avoid trial. The allegations against the department store include assertions that it discriminated against non-U.S. citizens who were authorized to work. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers cannot demand that lawful permanent residents show their residency cards when they start working. Rather, showing a social security card or driver’s license is sufficient.

In this instance, a worker was hired by the store, but then her start date was delayed due to the human resources manager requiring that she show unexpired permanent residency documents. Pursuant to the settlement, the woman received back pay and damages. In a statement, the Justice Department noted, “All employers should take care not to impose unlawful burdens on employees because of their citizenship or immigration status.”

The federal government protects workers from discrimination due to national origin and immigration status. In addition to INA, Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees – whether in hiring, firing, or promoting, based on an individual’s race or national origin. Furthermore, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers provide the same protections to all workers (minimum wage and overtime compensation for non-exempt employees) regardless of immigration status.