Under the federal employment laws, workplace discrimination can be shown to have occurred by disparate treatment. This is where an individual is intentionally discriminated against because they are a member of a protected class, such as gender, racial or religious groups. It can also occur when some engages in a protected activity and suffers retaliation because of that activity, such as being fired after filing a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In a positive decision for workers, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a case back to the district court to decide the issue of whether United Parcel Service offered reasonable accommodation to some employees, but refused to provide the same accommodation to a pregnant woman.
Memories of the recent recession are finally starting to fade for many people thanks to the nation's sustained economic recovery, particularly in relation to the job market. Indeed, data from the U.S. Labor Department shows that roughly 250,000 jobs were added every month in 2014, marking the highest rate of job growth in nearly two decades.
There is a great deal of illegal discrimination that occurs in the workplace. Some is inadvertent; some businesses fail to grasp the mandatory nature of the federal civil rights and employment laws, either because they do not believe they apply or because do not understand the requirements of the law.
After a law is passed to deal with a form of discrimination, many people naively assume that that action solves the issue and ends that type of discrimination. However, merely placing a law on the books is a long way from ending the discrimination.
Sex discrimination was prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But as we noted last time, discussing Patricia Arquette's Oscar acceptance speech and the topic of equal pay for women, the issue is complex, and that is one reason that even with all of the legislation since 1964 that as further amended and augmented the Civil Rights Act, there are still discrepancies in the American workforce between men and women.
Some people were put off by Patricia Arquette's Oscar acceptance speech. Some felt was insufficiently inclusive, while others were unhappy that a women who is a Hollywood actor, and earns many times per hour what most American workers earn in a week or even month, was raising the issue of equal pay for women.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with the issue of what does an employer need know about a job applicant or employee that would make them liable for a violation of the Civil Rights Act, where the employer lacked actual knowledge of the individuals religious practice.
Minority firefighters had sued the Buffalo fire department for a pattern and practice of discrimination that had disadvantaged minorities in their ability to obtain jobs and promotions, and the courts had imposed quotas and other remedial efforts on the department.
A reverse discrimination case is returning to the lower court after the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, found there were factual questions that needed to be answered before the trial court could dismiss the action.