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.

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.

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.

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”).

Key Points

  • On October 6, 2022, President Biden issued a full pardon for all federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana, urged state governors to pardon state-level possession convictions, and encouraged rescheduling of marijuana under federal law.
  • The pardon only applies to simple marijuana possession convictions under federal law and the District of Columbia’s criminal code.
  • The pardon does not extend to any state marijuana offenses or any federal offenses other than simple possession.
  • Pardoned convictions will still appear on an individual’s record but will be accompanied by a certificate of pardon.
  • Pardons “forgive” the conviction and remove any restrictions on a person’s right to vote, hold office, or sit on a jury that may have been imposed by the conviction.