Photo of Catarina Colón

As an employment-focused litigator and investigator, Catarina advises clients on equal rights, discrimination and retaliation claims, wage and hour issues, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) matters, and Title VII actions. Catarina also works on the firm’s Higher Education team, assisting clients with extensive employment, student conduct and institutional nondiscrimination efforts. This includes NCAA compliance and investigations into Title IX and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act claims, as well as other federal civil rights statutes and regulations.

In a world radically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we communicate in the workplace has been permanently altered with the integration of online communication platforms. Effective communication is essential to human functioning, including within the context of organizations and business entities. But the common workplace communication method changed swiftly when communication technologies replaced in-person communication that once typified office settings. While the integration of online communication platforms was a major contributor to the survival of many businesses, is it possible that these same communication platforms have the potential to exacerbate underlying differences among a diverse and remote workforce leading to increased employment litigation?
Continue Reading Can Differences in Communication Styles Among a Diverse Workforce Contribute to Discrimination Claims?

On June 10, 2022, Illinois amended its Child Bereavement Leave Act (“CBLA”) to include unpaid leave for employees following an “unexpected lack of parenthood,” and deaths of other family members, including stepchildren, spouses, domestic partners, siblings, parents or stepparents, parents-in-law, grandchildren, or grandparents. The new legislation is known as the Family Bereavement Leave Act (“FBLA”).
Continue Reading Illinois’ Family Bereavement Leave Act: What Employers Can Learn from the Prairie State.

For some, the gym is a sanctuary – an oasis. For others, the gym can be a nightmare, and an emotionally draining experience. Sexual harassment in fitness facilities is a rapidly growing problem, and one that can leave a lot of gym members feeling uncomfortable and frightened. How do we combat this? Do we encourage people to switch gyms? Do we tell people to just “ignore” the harassment? What obligations do gym-owners have to address such conduct?
Continue Reading Employer Obligations on Addressing Sexual Harassment in Fitness Facilities

On May 12, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released a new technical assistance document to address concerns over the use of algorithmic software and AI in the hiring process. In this document, the EEOC warned employers who are using this type of software that they may be violating the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and provided some examples best practices. The following summary will help you navigate this new and exciting field of employment software.

Continue Reading AI and Algorithmic Fairness: EEOC Launches Initiative on Employer Use of AI in Hiring Processes

While diversity, equity, and inclusion have slowly made their way to the forefront of many employers’ minds, two dimensions of diversity are often overlooked in these discussions –neurodiversity and ability diversity. More than 1 billion people, 15% of the global population, live with a disability. Thus, employers must ensure that neurodiversity and employees and applicants with disabilities are properly represented in DEI initiatives.
Continue Reading Creating Inclusive Workplaces for Neurodivergent and Employees with Disabilities

While many employers maintain “Professional Dress and Hygiene” policies in their Employee Handbooks – or as stand-alone policies – managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel are rarely trained on how to implement those policies. The common result is, unfortunately, that these policies are applied unfairly or more strictly toward Black and other racially diverse employees. Very seldom do we see policies that specifically prohibit braids, dreads, locks, twists, or knots anymore. Instead, these policies often state that employee hairstyles must be “professional” (very helpful),“neat,” and well-managed,” for example. Keeping your policy language broad can be helpful by giving your managers, supervisors, and HR personnel deference, but it can also result in disparate treatment if the decision-maker has conscious or unconscious biases about what is viewed as “professional” and make determinations under the policy relying on those unfair biases.
Continue Reading Hair Discrimination – Does Your “Professional Dress and Hygiene” Policy Make the Cut?

Most individuals are familiar with online video games such as FIFA, Minecraft, Fortnite or maybe, Last of Us permitting players to play and communicate with others online while seated at their Xbox or PlayStation consoles. Augmented Realty (AR) games, such as Pokémon-GO, superimpose a digital setting into the players’ own real environment, incorporating virtual components into the real world and increasing the level of physical activity.

Continue Reading That’s So Meta – Workplace Harassment Issues in a Virtual World