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With a background in labor and employment litigation, Catarina helps clients stay in line with employment law, especially in the midst of corporate transactions. Catarina collaborates with clients in the healthcare, financial and manufacturing industries to help them avoid costly labor and employment litigation and personnel issues. She concentrates much of her practice on the mergers and acquisitions of companies, including asset and stock purchases, with an eye to the myriad of employment issues inherent in corporate transactions.

In our ever-evolving world, fostering cultural sensitivity is paramount for minimizing legal risks and creating inclusive, respectful work environments. Language plays a crucial role in shaping our perceptions, and unfortunately, some words used in everyday conversation may perpetuate stereotypes and contribute to cultural insensitivity. As employers gear up for the new year, they should consider abandoning the following words and phrases. Encouraging their employees to do the same will help create more inclusive work environments and mitigate the risk of discrimination claims brought by members of their workforce.Continue Reading Cultivating Cultural Sensitivity in the Workplace: Words to Leave Behind in 2024

On the heels of the United States Supreme Court’s decision limiting affirmative action in college admissions, we have seen an increase in workers who do not belong to historically underrepresented demographic groups filing lawsuits challenging their employers’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.[1] As a result, some businesses may wonder: Are our DEI efforts worth the legal risk? For most businesses, the consensus answer appears to be “yes.”Continue Reading Still “Business as Usual”: Recent Challenges to Company DEI Efforts

What is caste and caste discrimination?

“Caste” or a “caste system” is a social hierarchy passed down through families and can dictate an individual’s permissible professions as well as aspects of their social life, including whom they can marry.[1] It exists in a variety of ways, but for purposes of defining a legally protected class, it most directly relates to persons of South Asian descent. Importantly, however, an individual’s race or religion is not a caste, and caste and race/religion should not be equated or conflated.[2]Continue Reading An Emerging Protected Class: Caste Discrimination in the United States

When “Gymtimidation” Turns Into Discrimination

The issues of acceptance and comfort in fitness centers can pose serious challenges for owners. A healthy gym environment can empower all individuals, regardless of age, gender, ability, and race. However, if managed by inadequately trained staff or run without oversight, a gym can become a divisive place that breeds anxiety and fear. The phenomenon of “gymtimidation” is a popular topic among fitness center owners and gym enthusiasts alike. A 2022 study of roughly 3,000 individuals revealed that 90% of gym-goers are concerned about others’ opinions and 42% of gym-goers experience appearance-based anxiety while at the gym. Notably, Gen-Z gym-goers are the most affected by “gymtimidation,” with 38% of that demographic identifying “fear of judgment” as a reason for disliking gyms.Continue Reading Employment Discrimination in Fitness Centers: How Employers Can Combat Harassment and Create an Inclusive Environment for Employees and Patrons

When the pandemic hit, many employees began working remotely. Even now, post-pandemic, many employers have maintained flexible work options for employees. With remote working increasing, many employers are grappling with new ways to create a workplace community that can flourish in the new remote work reality. One strategy is the creation of Employee Resource Groups (“ERGs”).Continue Reading Leveraging the Power of Employee Resource Groups While Mitigating Risk: A Practical Guide

With holidays and a new year fast approaching, it is an excellent time for employers to consider reviewing and revamping their Employee Handbooks or stand-alone policies that address company-recognized holidays.

Continue Reading Happy Holidays! For some, or for all? Revamping Your Employee Handbook Holiday Provisions to Ensure Inclusivity.

While diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility 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 DEIA initiatives.Continue Reading Best Practices for Hiring and Retaining Individuals with Disabilities

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