Supreme Court Extends Civil Rights Protections to LGBTQ Workers in Landmark Decision

Supreme Court Extends Civil Rights Protections to LGBTQ Workers in Landmark Decision

By Patrick J. Cosgrove and Lisa M.Grandner. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) is one of the primary federal statutes prohibiting employment discrimination. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and other protected class characteristics. See, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. Under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his [or her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”. See, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision extending civil rights protections to LGBTQ individuals. As held by the Court: In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, — US — (2020). The majority’s decision was written by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, and addressed three (3) separate decisions from Eleventh, Second and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Each decision involved the same question: does Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination because of sex also prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender workers? On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court answered that central question, and held that LGBTQ individuals are entitled to Title VII protections. What does this mean...
Employee Privacy during COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York

Employee Privacy during COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York

By Michael Brumbach, Lisa Grandner and Andrew Ho. As America starts to get back to our new “normal”, some employers have already been taking precautions for the reopening of America’s businesses. Such precautions have included mask requirements, staggered work schedules, and temperature/fever tests. However, businesses may now find themselves in possession of health information and must keep in mind that there are significant legal ramifications when handling employee (or other) health data. With this in mind, the following article includes recommendations from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding COVID-19, as well as laws to look out for when dealing with employee health data. The most glaring protections of employee health data stem from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, otherwise known as HIPAA.  However, recent developments in New York law, namely the SHIELD ACT, may have created new consequences for businesses that fail to properly protect their employee’s health information. HIPAA requires that employers keep medical records confidential, and isolate medical records from files that employees such as supervisors or managers may access. This information includes: health insurance documents, requests for medical leaves of absence, FMLA reports, documentation regarding the underlying matters for FMLA paperwork, physician’s examination reports, medically-related excuses for absenteeism, medical job restrictions, accident and injury reports, worker’s compensation reports, and any other document that contains private medical information about an employee. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all medical information, including COVID-19 related documentation, for employees be stored separately from the employee’s personnel file. Businesses may maintain logs of temperature results, but they must keep this information confidential. However,...