Happy New Year: New Looks, Resolutions and Lists

As the New Year approaches, we all take stock of how we’d like to be better in 2015.  Here at McGuire, Wood & Bissette, we have a new website with a new look for the New Year.  Those of you who are subscribers to my blog likely received an email in the last day or so with a summary of some of the Firm’s accomplishments during 2014 – that wasn’t intentional. Instead, you received this email because yesterday our Firm’s new website went live.  With technology, as with most things in life, you can’t anticipate every little glitch.  So I apologize for any inconvenience.  I do, however, encourage you to view our new look, including a new approach to explaining the services we provide and the types of clients we serve at www.mwblawyers.com

A new year also often means resolutions about how we are going to improve: some will stick, some won’t.  This last month, as an appointment expired, the National Labor Relations Board has issued some radical opinions.  While some folks are declaring the sky is falling as a result, I tend to believe that the NLRB’s 2014 last minute push will be more like our 2014 last minute resolutions:  some will stick and some won’t.  We will explore those most likely to stick and what that practically means for your business in the new year. In the meantime, I don’t believe radical changes are necessary just yet.

A new year also means confirmations or declarations of new priorities or strategies. The EEOC recently provided its top ten list of litigation priorities for 2015.  None of these are particularly surprising, but they are important to know as you assess risk related to EEOC Charges and potential litigation.  Countdowns are always fun, particularly on New Year’s Eve, so here’s the list:

10.  Preservation of Access to the Legal System:  Challenges to “overly broad language” in severance agreements and arbitration agreements

9. Disparate Impact Claims related to Background Screening:  So far, the courts haven’t been particularly friendly to the EEOC’s background screening suits, but the EEOC is not deterred.

8.  Hiring Discrimination Based on Sex in “Non-Traditional” Female Positions:  Employers with traditionally male positions should take note.

7. LGBT Coverage:  Same sex harassment, discrimination based on failure to conform to gender norms and gender stereotyping will all be considered.

6.  Immigrant, Migrant & Vulnerable Workers:  Exploring the power disparity between vulnerable workers through national origin discrimination and harassment claims is a priority.

5. Importance of Juries:  The EEOC points out that its cases that make it to a jury are more likely to be successful.  If you are involved in litigation with the EEOC, realize a jury trial may be their end-game.

4.  Reasonable Accommodation under the ADAAA:  Courts are focusing more on what accommodations are reasonable and how employers prove an undue hardship.  Before an employer denies an accommodation, the employer should consult with counsel.

3.  Pregnancy Discrimination:  Particular focus on its intersection with the ADAAA for now – the Supreme Court will have a say in this one when it issues its opinion in the UPS case currently pending.

2.  Religious Discrimination:  This one may be the biggest surprise.  Employers with employees seeking religious accommodations should take note and seek counsel in handling these situations.

1.  EEOC’s Pre-Suit Obligations:  Judicial review of the EEOC’s conciliation efforts continues to be fought in the courts.

So there you have it:  a new look, NLRB “resolutions” and the EEOC’s list – not a bad way to start the new year.  Whether you are just a casual blog reader or a long-time client, check out the new website and see the services MWB can offer – or just watch Lou Bissette’s favorite tie turn colors.  Happy New Year!


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