North State SHRM News & Legal Updates
Your source of relevant news in HR in the North State, California and nationwide.
In this podcast, Aaron Crews, Littler’s Chief Data Analytics Officer, Natalie Pierce, co-chair of Littler’s Robotics, AI and Automation Practice Group and Diversity and Inclusion Council and Garry Mathiason, co-chair of Littler’s Robotics, AI and Automation Practice Group discuss what impact AI and automation will have on employers in the future.
The UK is working hard, but not smart. Despite working longer hours than ever before, Britain is in the midst of a productivity crisis. And, with the growth of the 24-hour economy and ever-increased demand from consumers, it is a crisis that shows little sign of ending any time soon. With Brexit on the horizon,… View Article
The US Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Sulyma v. Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee, a case in which the Ninth Circuit ruled that ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations requires a plaintiff to actually read materials in order to start the running of ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations. ERISA § 413(2) bars actions more than three years after “the earliest date on which the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the breach or violation,” and the Ninth Circuit held that a plaintiff who receives all the relevant information relating to her claim, but does not read it or does not recall reading it, does not have “actual knowledge” to start the limitations period. The Sixth Circuit, however, has held differently; in Brown v. Owens Corning Investment Review Committee, 622 F.3d 564, 571 (6th Cir. 2010), it held that the failure to read documents will not shield a plaintiff from having actual knowledge of the documents’ contents. Several district courts have held similarly, determining that the three-year limitations period begins when the plaintiff receives the relevant information, whether she reads it or not.
The Supreme Court decision likely will establish a uniform interpretation of ERISA’s “actual knowledge” standard for statute-of-limitations purposes. The Ninth Circuit’s decision, correct or not, makes it difficult for defendants to prove a three-year, statute-of-limitations defense, because a plaintiff who does not read contents, or cannot recall reading materials, does not have actual knowledge of the documents’ contents. The three-year limitations period would seem to have little meaning if a plaintiff simply can testify that she did not read or did not recall reading relevant materials.
The Supreme Court’s order stated only that the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted. Intel’s opening brief is due 45 days from the grant of certiorari.
“I know it when I see it.” These are the famous words of Justice Potter Stewart defining legal obscenity in his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964).
I feel the same way about a hostile work environment. For a hostile work environment to be actionable, it must (among other factors) be objectivity hostile. What does this mean? It’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it.
For example, consider the case of Curtis Anthony, an African-American quality inspector for Boeing at its North Charleston, South Carolina, plant, sued his employer for allowing a racially hostile work environment.
According to ABC News, his allegations include white co-workers urinating in his seat and on his desk, leaving signs with the “n-word” near his workspace, and ultimately leaving a noose above his workspace. Boeing, for its part denies the allegations, stating that Boeing spokesperson wrote, that Anthony “is a valued Boeing South Carolina teammate, [and] there is no validity to his allegations.”
Bingo. Hostile work environment. I can’t necessarily define it, but I know it when I see it.
Regardless of whether an employee can hold you legally responsible for, let’s say, another employee peeing on his desk, why would let this misconduct go unchecked? Even if you think it’s just horseplay, you can’t ignore it.
The post What’s a Hostile Work Environment? You’ll Know It When You See It appeared first on Workforce.
A long-time worker at Boeing’s North Charleston, North Carolina plant says that he has experienced repeated racial harassment at work for years, including finding a noose hanging over his desk when he returned from an off-site assignment earlier this year. He says the plant management retaliated against him for complaining about harassment by his co-workers.
Curtis Anthony is suing the company, alleging that Boeing allowed a hostile work environment at the plant where the aerospace giant builds its 787 Dreamliner plane.
A Boeing spokesperson told ABC News last week that it investigated the noose incident and identified and fired the individual responsible.
Anthony says that the noose incident followed years of racial harassment from some of his white co-workers beginning in 2017.
He alleges that he informed plant management about incidents including finding signs with racial epithets near his workspace and someone urinating on his desk and chair.
In his suit, Anthony says that stress caused him to relapse in his sobriety and he took FMLA medical leave to seek treatment for stress.
Anthony says he also enrolled in Boeing’s Employee Assistance Program to help deal with the stress. Boeing’s website says its EAP provides up to 6 no-fee counseling sessions. The EAP helps workers address issues such as emotional and mental health, substance abuse and workplace-related concerns, including conflicts with a co-worker.
The company notes that Anthony’s requests for leave were “consistently and repeatedly approved,” but denies Anthony reported other incidents or experienced retaliation.
In addition to laying out his allegations of racially-motivated harassment, Anthony’s lawsuit claims that he faced retaliation after complaining to management about the alleged incidents and about workers using “the n-word several times” in his presence.
He claims he Boeing moved him to a building with no air conditioning when he returned from FMLA leave and passed him over for promotion that went instead to “lesser qualified Caucasian workers.”
The company denied that Anthony reported harassment other than the noose incident. In a statement, Boeing told ABC News that Anthony ” is a valued Boeing South Carolina teammate, [but] there is no validity to his allegations.”
That could prove a critical claim in resolving the lawsuit.
In a 2017 case, a court found that, as long as a company didn’t subject an employee to any tangible employment action, it can avoid liability by satisfying two key criteria.
1. The company must exercise reasonable care to promptly correct any harassment it’s made aware of.
2. The employer must also show that the victim/employee failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities it provided — or failed to otherwise avoid harm.
The court said in its ruling, “Failure to report harassment … deprives the employer of an opportunity to take corrective action and does not justify the failure to report.”
Anthony’s case could impact Boeing financially, in addition to any damage to its reputation.
Plaintiffs have received multi-million dollar settlements after showing employers in similar cases failed to protect workers from harassment or retaliated against them for reporting harassment.
The post Boeing employee suing for harassment, retaliation found noose above his desk appeared first on HRMorning.
The “alternative workforce”—contract, freelance and gig workers—make up a sizable share of the global workforce and represent a great opportunity for employers to access talent in more flexible, on-demand ways.