Monday, May 1, 2017

That is SO last week

Last week, we saw several developments in the area of race discrimination in employment, including a Second Circuit decision that has generated media coverage and commentary. The Second Circuit’s ruling reversed a lower court decision which said that a single racial epithet could not support a claim against a company for a hostile work environment. While the Second Circuit did not hold that a single racial slur is definitely enough to maintain a hostile-environment claim, it recognized that a single act, such as a supervisor’s use of a racial epithet in the presence of subordinates, could create an abusive working environment, and held that the lower court failed to adequately consider all of the plaintiff’s allegations of  approximately 20 separate incidents of harassing behavior by a supervisor. What constitutes a hostile work environment varies by jurisdiction—for example, the Fifth Circuit and Eleventh Circuit have held that one offensive comment is not sufficient to create a hostile work environment, but the Fourth Circuit has held that a supervisor who used a racial slur twice in a 24-hour period created a racially hostile working environment.
 
Discrimination
  • Eleven current and former employees have joined a lawsuit against Fox News which alleges persistent racial discrimination and harassment.
  • 175 current and former employees of CNN are seeking to join a class-action suit alleging racial discrimination at the network.
  • A Baltimore hospital agreed to pay $179,576 to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit alleging that it fired an employee who requested isolated working conditions as a reasonable accommodation while he recovered from a kidney transplant.
  • Palantir Technologies, a military contractor, has agreed to pay $1.7 million to settle allegations by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs that it discriminated against Asian applicants.
  • The EEOC announced that a Texas fuel-transport company agreed to pay $65,000 to settle allegations that the company violated the ADA when it refused to hire a man whose arm had been amputated.  
Technology
  • Joon Ian Wong wrote for Quartz about the mismatch between the perceived and actual risk of machine learning, arguing that the real risk lies not with AI in household devices and cars but with applications in the workplace and in healthcare.
  • HR Dive reported on a recent Second Circuit decision holding that the National Labor Relations Act protected an employee from being fired after posting obscenities about his employer and the employer’s family on Facebook.
  • A Dutch designer has developed a voice-recognition chair that delivers a little shock when the person seated says the words “yes but.”
In Other News