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,...
Time Is Ticking for TikTok – The Countdown to Change In New York’s Privacy Laws.

Time Is Ticking for TikTok – The Countdown to Change In New York’s Privacy Laws.

By Amanda J. DeFeo and Jeffrey T. Miller. The right of privacy has been called the most esteemed right of a civilized man. This right however, as esteemed as it may be, is facing extinction due to the civilized man. In the late 90’s, the rise of the Internet changed the way society was able to obtain and share information on the “Info Highway.” By the dawn of the 21st Century, the switch from the Blackberry to the I-Phone started a revolution to the extent that technology is now an integral part of daily life. Even further, social media has transformed personal and professional interactions. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have become a fundamental marketing tool for all businesses and have changed the realm of e-commerce and sales. In the wake of COVID-19, we have experienced communications, business meetings, classrooms, and legal hearings make an unprecedented shift to the digital platform. In our nation’s most desperate times, these advancements are most certainly a positive step towards a more effective and efficient future. However, every rose has its thorns. As technology continues to advance, there will be an increasing need for new privacy laws that keep pace with the changing times. This article will address the privacy issues we are currently facing today and how we can protect the esteemed right of privacy. In this digital age, we download, log-in, accept the terms and fail to consider the risk. That risk is the disclosure of personally identifiable information, or PII. PII can include your name, address, date of birth, employee data, login credentials, global positioning, financial information, and...
Social Media: Expanding Discoverability

Social Media: Expanding Discoverability

By Jamie V. Tarallo and Jefrrey D. Schulman. By Jamie V. Tarallo and Jeffrey T. Miller. Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and LinkedIn have become major resources in the legal world. Lawyers have found that these resources can provide accurate information as to potential litigants’ background, history, the seriousness of injury or level of disability. The law around the discoverability and use of these social media platforms is recent and relevant as the world is continuously shifting to fast-paced social networking. The information sought on these social platforms cannot only be useful for finding litigants, but also for strengthening a defense as to the extent of personal injuries claimed. It is no longer the norm that only major companies have to preserve electronic data for litigation. Plaintiffs in personal injury actions now also have to preserve social media platforms as the information contained therein can be highly relevant and useful for the defense of a case. Use of E-discovery is broadening as society becomes more immersed in social media and the online world. Recent decisions have held that when a person puts their mental or physical health in question, social media platforms can be very useful and determinative in the outcome of a case. Counsel can use law mechanisms such as notices to admit, motions to compel, and discovery demands to extract such information that is necessary and relevant to the cause of action. In a recent ruling, Vasquez-Santos v. Matthew, Appellate Division, First Department, opened the door even further for Defendants and granted a motion to compel to allow an expert to dive through the plaintiff’s electronic devices,...