In the complex tapestry of workplace dynamics, there exists an often unspoken advantage known as the beauty premium or “pretty privilege.” This phenomenon refers to the societal bias toward individuals who are perceived as conventionally attractive. Over twenty years of scholarly articles show an unconscious preference to interact with people we may find attractive, even in the employment context during the hiring process and throughout employment. While it may seem superficial, pretty privilege can significantly impact one’s career trajectory, opportunities, and overall experience in the professional world.Continue Reading Pretty-Privilege: The Ugly Truth About Appearance Discrimination

In 2021, there was a mass shooting at a high school in Michigan in which four students were killed. As a result of this shooting, not only was the shooter prosecuted, but the parents of the shooter were charged with criminal liability by their failure to take ordinary care to act appropriately, and are, therefore, being tried for four counts of involuntary manslaughter. The mother was recently convicted.

Other parents in the last few months have pled guilty to charges of reckless conduct or neglect in these situations. Given this pattern, it is reasonably foreseeable that employers—if such shootings take place in the workplace—may also be prosecuted or subject to stiff personal injury claims due to shootings in the workplace, if they do not follow at least the minimum standards as set out in state law regarding restrictions on weapons in the workplace.Continue Reading Employers Beware: The Scope of Responsibility for Workplace Shootings Is Widening

Democrats and Republicans within the House Committee on Education and the Workforce have recently expressed bipartisan interest in raising or eliminating the statutory caps on damages for claims brought under Title VII and the ADA. While the plan is still in its very early stages, any revisions to statutory damages caps would have significant implications for employers.Continue Reading Congress Considers Raising or Eliminating the Statutory Caps on Damages for Claims Brought Under Title VII and the ADA

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 October 23, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the H-1B regulations. These proposed rules are seen as a significant step to modernize the H-1B requirements and address issues of fraud that occurred in the previous H-1B lottery cycle. Comments for these proposed rules will be accepted through December 22, 2023.Continue Reading New Proposed H-1B Rules Seek to Modernize Requirements and Reduce Fraud

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

As of September 13th, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL-WHD) is partnering with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to focus on “enhanced law enforcement”

Continue Reading Memorandum of Understanding Between Governmental Labor and Employment Agencies Creates Increased Exposure for Businesses

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

In June 2022, the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana allowed PAGA claims to be split into individual and non-individual (representative) claims, and consequently, under a valid enforceable arbitration agreement, employers could compel arbitration of individual PAGA claims. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling established that once individual claims are compelled to arbitration, the remaining non-individual claims should be dismissed for lack of standing. Justice Sotomayor, in her concurring opinion, warned that if the Court’s interpretation of California law as to standing was incorrect, the final authority would rest with the California courts and legislature.Continue Reading California Supreme Court Keeps Representative PAGA Claims Afloat in State Court