A guide to hair discrimination laws and their impact on employer grooming codes in the US

This review of legislation and case law on hair and hair styling in the workplace in the US looks at recent state and federal anti-discrimination initiatives and gives guidance to employers on how to adapt their dress code and grooming policies. Executive summary Many have said that the workplace tends to be society’s battlefield, where culture wars play out and emerging trends go up against long-established…

Executive Order combatting discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community: what do US-employers need to know?

Within hours of his inauguration on 20 January 2021, President Biden signed his Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. The Executive Order establishes the new administration’s policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, and directs federal agencies to take affirmative steps to secure these rights.   The Executive Order commits to enforcing the…

Free speech and the US First Amendment: where it is implicated, and where it is not

The right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment in the US, but what does this mean for private employers and employees? This article provides guidance on this topical question in the wake of the unrest at the US Capitol on 6 January.  In the wake of the 6 January 2021 unrest at the United States Capitol Building and several social media outlets…

Newly extended presumption that COVID-19 illness or death for workers is an occupational injury takes effect in California: what conditions apply?

A new Bill in California confirms and extends the presumption that illness or death related to COVID-19 is an occupational illness. This article examines the conditions for the presumption to apply and the circumstances in which employers will be able to dispute it. On 17 September 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill (Senate Bill 1159, the ‘Bill’) which modifies and extends…

President Trump suspends entry to US for certain foreign workers until end of 2020

President Trump has extended the entry ban for individuals applying for green cards until 31 December 2020 and introduced a ban on foreign nationals seeking to enter the US on certain categories of work visa.  This updates our alert of 22 April 2020, which discussed President Trump’s 60-day suspension on the entry of individuals applying for immigrant visas (‘green cards’) outside of the United States….

LGBTQ+ workers are protected by the Civil Rights Act: a landmark decision from the US Supreme Court

On 15 June 2020, the US Supreme Court held that LGBTQ+ workers are protected at a national level from workplace discrimination by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  June is Pride Month. This year’s Pride Month has extra meaning for the LGBTQ+ community, allies and advocates. On 15 June 2020, Justice Gorsuch, writing for the 6-3 majority of the United States Supreme Court, handed…

Employers' response to racial unrest: a view from the US

The wave of protests following the death of George Floyd provide an opportunity for employers to reinforce actions against racism and discrimination in the workplace. This article provides suggestions on actions employers should consider in the light of recent events. The global response to George Floyd’s tragic and shocking death and other recent acts of injustice, including those involving Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, Breonna Taylor,…

US - Connecticut passes sweeping changes to its human rights laws

Connecticut has introduced new legislation on sexual harassment in the workplace, including new policy and training requirements and additional protection for employees complaining of sexual harassment.    Executive Summary  In the continued fallout from the ‘#MeToo’ movement, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has signed new legislation imposing sweeping changes to Connecticut’s human rights law designed to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace and provide additional protections to victims of sexual harassment….

US: Department of Labor relaxes rules for tipped employees

Employers now have greater flexibility in how they remunerate tipped employees who also perform non-tipped duties as a result of a reissued opinion from the US Department of Labor. This article sets out details of the revised and clarified policy, which is already effective. Executive Summary The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has announced it will no longer apply the ‘80/20 rule’…

US – New sexual harassment laws: what employers in NY need to know

This article sets out the main obligations and potential liabilities on employers arising from New York State’s recent workplace sexual harassment legislation. Executive Summary In the fiscal year 2019 budget, the New York State Legislature passed several new laws aimed at preventing workplace sexual harassment, including banning mandatory arbitration and requiring anti-harassment policies and training. These new laws, a response to the larger social conversation…