Three Employment Issues to Watch for in 2021
As with all laws and policies in the United States, employment issues are constantly evolving, and employers should always stay up to date with potential changes or trends. The following is a brief overview of three different employment trends that are emerging in the second half of 2021. If you want to discuss a specific issue, contact our Encino employment attorneys directly.
1. Clarifying LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination
When the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued its ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County in June of 2021, the primary message was that Title VII sex and gender discrimination protections are interpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. While this message was clear, employers still have lingering questions.
Courts across the country have been ruling on Bostock-related matters, including whether same-sex spouses were entitled to health benefits provided to opposite-sex spouses (Jimenez v. Laborer's Welfare Fund, 2020 WL 5979653 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 8, 2020)), and that gender stereotyping and gender misidentification are prohibited discrimination. We expect courts to continue ruling on specific situations and further clarifying the scope of LGBTQ anti-discrimination matters.
2. The Scope of Race Discrimination and Harassment
More employees seem to be bringing claims of race-based discrimination and harassment, and courts are limiting what qualifies as such unlawful conduct. For example:
- Two Black applicants had job offers revoked when a background check exposed criminal records (Mandala v. NTT Data, 975 F.3d 202 (2nd Cir. 2020)). The court dismissed the case but essentially stated the plaintiffs could have made a case with stronger evidence, which opens the door for similar claims regarding how Black men are arrested more than white men, leading to race discrimination.
- A court found that a Black nurse did not experience a hostile work environment due to a coworker saying she flew the Confederate flag at home and isolated comments about other Black people. This shows that the facts are important when it comes to racial harassment and hostile work environment claims. (Yelling v. St. Vincent's Health Sys., 2020 WL 7059450 (N.D. Ala. Dec. 2, 2020))
3. Employer-provided Accommodations
Courts have been issuing rulings on accommodations for both pregnant women and those for an employee’s religion. First, a court ruled that a pregnant woman needs to show comparable employees with limitations to establish a case for accommodations. (LaBarbera v. NYU Winthrop Hosp., 2021 WL 980873 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 21, 2021)). This means the analysis is different for pregnant employees than other employees with disabilities.
Two different Circuits (the 6th and 7th) ruled in 2021 in favor of employers who denied religious accommodations to employees. One employee requested Friday and Saturday nights off from a Walmart job, which the court found to be an undue burden on the store. Another employer won its case when it terminated an employee for missing work for a Good Friday service.
Consult with an Encino Employment Attorney Today
All of the above are nuanced issues that employers should always pay attention to. Our Encino employment lawyers at Kaufman McAndrew LLP will be informing companies about changing standards in employment law and representing them in employee disputes. Call 818-788-5767 or contact us online for more information.