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Showing 7 posts in Civil Rights.

What Employers Should Know about the FMLA and Same-Sex Marriages under New Department of Labor Rules

After the 2013 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, federal agencies have been moving to align federal policies and procedures with the holding of that case. The Court held, basically, that same-sex marriages performed in states where those marriages are legal are valid, legal marriages for purposes of federal law. To that end, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) promulgated a final rule on February 25th, 2015 that revised the regulatory definition of the word “spouse” to include same-sex spouses from legal marriages to eligible employees for purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The final rule becomes effective on March 27th, 2015.

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The Law of Mandatory Flu Shot Requirements

The issue of whether United States citizens could be compelled to submit to vaccinations has been the subject of litigation since small pox was an epidemic threatening the health and well-being of the country in the early 1900s. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, citizens challenged a Massachusetts state law requiring all persons over the age of 21 to be vaccinated against small pox. 197 U.S. 11 (1905). They argued that “a compulsory vaccination law is unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive, and, therefore, hostile to the inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such way as to him seems best; and that the execution of such a law against one who objects to vaccination, no matter for what reason, is nothing short of an assault upon his person.” Id. at 26. The United States Supreme Court disagreed, finding “a real and substantial relation to the protection of the public health and safety” and noting that “the police power of a State must be held to embrace, at least, such reasonable regulations established directly by legislative enactment as will protect the public health and the public safety.” Id. at 31, 25. The Court did note, however, that this power should not be exercised in such a manner as to be arbitrary or beyond what is necessary for the safety of the public. Id. at 26. More >

Nuns, Firefighters and Title VII: Are Volunteers Eligible for Protection?

Volunteerism is a staple of American life. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 62.6 million Americans volunteered nearly 7.7 million hours in 2013, adding up to an estimated value of $173 billion. Organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity depend on volunteers to serve the communities in which they live. But even beyond not-for-profit charitable organizations, for-profit businesses routinely open their doors to students and others who are willing to file, prepare mailings, or shred documents in exchange for some experience to put on their resume. More >

“Too Black”: Waitress’s Claim of Color Bias Raises Novel Title VII Claim

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prevents discrimination in employment decisions based upon an employee’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Bias claims based on a claimant’s skin color are nearly unanimously predicated upon bias against ‘race’ rather than ‘color.’ Circumstances can arise, as the Fifth Circuit found, where ‘color,’ rather than ‘race,’ is a discrete type of alleged discrimination. In a novel holding, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in Etienne v. Spanish Lake Truck & Casino Plaza, LLC that a separate claim of ‘color’ can provide the necessary foundation for a claim of discrimination based on ‘race.’

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Employee Benefits in the Wake of Windsor, cont.

Earlier this week, I discussed how the landmark Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor will result in many employer-related issues in states that do recognize same-sex marriages. What about non-recognizing states? Two federal district courts have begun to address the quandary. More >

The Equal Pay Act—Is Your Business Helping or Hurting the Cause?

In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act (“Act”) was signed by President Kennedy, women were earning an average of 59 cents on the dollar when compared to men.[1] Today, women earn about 80 cents on the dollar.[2] President Obama addressed the issue of equal pay in his second inaugural address, “[O]ur journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.” Where does your business stand on the journey to equal pay? Equal pay may not be something that is high on your radar as an employer, but you should always be assessing if your business is compliant with applicable laws and whether employees are being treated fairly. More >

Kentucky’s Municipal Employers Achieve Major Victory in 2012

For many, December is a time for reminiscing on the events that shaped the previous year. In our professional lives, this time affords many of us the opportunity to note those developments throughout the year that will shape and impact the year to come, or with a recent major victory for municipalities in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, years to come.  Thanks in part to the vigilant efforts of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC, municipal employers in Kentucky scored a resounding victory in 2012 concerning interpretation of Kentucky’s Whistleblower Act. For these municipal employers, reduced exposure to liability awaits them in 2013 and beyond. More >

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