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Vanderbilt University Law School recently conducted a study examining the relationship between weight class and jobs. Minnesota Public Radio reported on the study, which showed that heavier women are more likely to work lower-compensated jobs as they gain weight. The reason for this phenomenon is not actually clear, but it is evident that perceived beauty or attractiveness is related to better pay for both sexes.

keep-the-weight-away-291512-m.jpgThe study’s author has suggested that a sixth category should be added to the prohibited discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She believes that the research study is highly indicative of discrimination against obese people.

Current Kentucky Protections Against Discrimination
The Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits public employers from discriminating against employees or prospective employees based on age over 40, disability, smoking status, sex, national origin, religion, color, or race. Kentucky also has two other statutes that protect individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of their HIV or AIDS status or black lung disease.
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On October 30, an administrative law judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved a $10 million class-action settlement. A news source reported that the plaintiffs are former employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA) who applied for a promotion in 2003. Apparently, these individuals made a “best qualified” list but were not chosen for promotions. The plaintiffs argued that they were not chosen because of certain enumerated disabilities.

handicap-parking-1271666-m.jpgIn response to the settlement, the SSA will begin to significantly improve its policies and procedures in regards to disabled workers. This will include trainings and providing individuals with reasonable accommodations. The compensation will include over $6.5 million to members of the class that was discriminated against, and the rest of the settlement will go towards legal and administrative fees.

Kentucky Disability Discrimination
In Kentucky, discrimination because of a legitimate disability is unlawful. Both Kentucky and federal law require that public employers provide any employee who has a known disability with reasonable accommodations. Disabilities include both physical and mental limitations of qualified individuals. It is important to note that this ban on discrimination does not only include current employees but potential employees as well. For example, employers cannot ask a prospective employee whether he or she is disabled before he or she is hired. They can only ask about any disabilities after the employee is hired.
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Late last week, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that the Department of the Army engaged in discrimination against a transgender veteran. A prominent Washington newspaper reported that the Counsel determined that the Army was discriminating against a transgender individual who transitioned from male to female.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 4.49.18 PM.pngApparently, the individual was working as a software specialist for the Army in 2010 when she transitioned from male to female. During this transition, the Army put restrictions on which restrooms she could use, insulted her, and refused to give her work.

The victim filed a lawsuit in 2012 and explained that the restrictions had isolated her and segregated her from the rest of her employees. Furthermore, an investigation found that her gender transition did not have any negative impact on her work or other employees’ productivity. Fortunately, after this suit the Army has implemented training to ensure that no further discrimination occurs in the form of diversity and sensitivity training.
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Currently, sexual preference discrimination is not an area that is covered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, there is a significant push for this area to be included. According to one article, a recent poll has indicated that Americans are generally supportive of protection against discrimination in all areas.

rainbow-flag-1392509-m.jpgA small percentage of individuals felt that some discrimination was warranted. Some examples included allowing places of worship and some private employers to discriminate against employees who were not their religions. An overwhelming two-thirds of those individuals polled believed that federal law should include protection against discrimination because of sexual orientation and identity.

This poll is likely a foreshadowing of what is to come in regards to protection from discrimination, especially in light of recent same-sex marriage laws.
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The Eighth Circuit decided an employment discrimination case earlier this month brought by an employee of a railroad carrier. Apparently, the plaintiff in this case had a significant history of good work performance, but at some point he violated a serious safety rule. He agreed to a 30-day suspension and a period of probation. At some point during his probation, the plaintiff was viewed walking in the tracks, which is another serious safety violation.

fall-railroad-1433372-2-m.jpgThe supervisors who witnessed the above violation began an investigation. A hearing was held, and it was decided that the plaintiff would be terminated from his position. The plaintiff believes that his termination was based on the fact that he made two previous complaints and not because of the alleged rule violation. The lower court ruled in favor of the employer, and the Eighth Circuit agreed, finding that there was no unlawful retaliation and the plaintiff would have been discharged even without the rule violation.

What is Retaliation?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains that employers cannot harass, terminate, or demote an employee or retaliate against him or her for filing a claim for discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or other similar activities. Generally, a retaliation suit is brought when an employer participates in an adverse action against a qualified employee because he or she engaged in a constitutionally protected activity.
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Earlier this month, the First Circuit ruled on an employment discrimination case in favor of the defendants in Acevedo-Perez v. United States Department of Homeland Security, et al. Apparently, an employee of the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) filed a suit for employment discrimination, claiming he was discriminated against based on his age.

grandpa-558324-m.jpgThe employee alleged that in 2005 the agent in charge of his office asked for volunteers to transfer offices. The employee was listed as one of the four officers of seniority and was reassigned to headquarters. He had to delay his transfer because of a family issue. His third attempt to delay his transfer was denied, and he subsequently retired. He then filed a complaint in 2006, alleging that he was discriminated against because of his age, and that he was forced to retire. This claim was denied in 2009. He received a notice to appeal in July 2009, and he commenced his action in September 2009.
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The federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plays a large role in keeping the workplace fair for all workers. In some cases, the EEOC will pick up cases that involve large groups of employees and litigate them on behalf of the aggrieved employees. While the EEOC has a good success rate, it certainly isn’t perfect.

chairs-and-coffee-732128-m.jpgIn a recent case involving the EEOC, the Commission’s case was dismissed because it failed to provide specific information about the jobs of male and female employees when it was making a wage-discrimination claim.

EEOC v. Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J.

In the recent case of EEOC v. Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., the EEOC claimed that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was paying male and female employees differently, although the two groups performed similar work.
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The Seventh Circuit recently decided an appeal in Cuff v. Trans States Holdings, Inc., et al. and affirmed a lower court’s decision to award an employee-plaintiff a large settlement in a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) case. The Court found that the employee worked jointly for two companies that were owned by one supplier, and it held that the employer was in fact mandated to follow federal law regarding FMLA and should not have terminated the employee for taking leave.

milan-office-1445888-m.jpgThe Facts of the Case
An employee was terminated from his job after he took a leave under FMLA after the request was denied by his employer. The employer contended that it was not considered an employer subject to the regulations because they did not have the requisite number of employees. The company said that it only had 33 employees. The plaintiff argued that he worked for both companies jointly, and the other company had 343 employees, therefore qualifying the employer under FMLA.

The Court found that under the regulations by the Department of Labor, an employee will be eligible for FMLA if he or she is employed by more than one agency that has 50 or more workers total, and in this instance the employer was qualified as such under the law.
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Last week, the Supreme Court of Washington State ruled in favor of Clark College in an age discrimination suit brought against the college by a professor employed by the college. The Court ruled that the professor did not meet the requirements necessary to establish discrimination.

doodled-desks-2-1193228-m.jpgThe Background of the Case
In 1994, the plaintiff started teaching English as an adjunct professor at the college. After about nine years, she applied for a tenured position. In addition to the plaintiff’s application, Clark College received 151 other applications, and it subsequently screened 13 of the candidates during a teaching demonstration. They then recommended the four screened individuals to the president and vice-president of the department.

The plaintiff was 55 at the time of the interview and was one of the four candidates chosen to be recommended to the president. The college did not hire the plaintiff and instead hired two other individuals who were younger than 40 years old.
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Late last week, the Sixth Circuit decided an employment discrimination lawsuit in favor of the employer in Loyd v. Saint Joseph Mercy Oakland et al.. Apparently, a 52-year-old African-American woman was terminated from her 25-year position as a security guard at a Michigan hospital. The woman first brought charges with her union and then filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The employee alleged that she was discriminated against and terminated because of her sex, race, and age. The hospital argued that she was not fired for any of those reasons, but rather because of a series of violations of the hospital’s policies and practices.

guard-1063331-m.jpgBackground
The plaintiff, Anita Loyd, was a security guard for 25 years with the hospital. During her tenure, she was disciplined several times for various infractions. One of these infractions included a 2001 incident when she failed to help restrain a patient. She was subsequently written up.

In 2011, Ms. Loyd was called to a room where a psychiatric patient was residing. The patient was very agitated and was acting in a violent manner. The hospital contends that Ms. Loyd was asked to help restrain the patient to ensure that no one was injured, but Ms. Loyd instead began asking the patient questions. However, Ms. Loyd argues that she did leave the room to inquire about the patient but that she also helped restrain the patient.
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