Recent updates in Employment Law

In Isenhour v. Outsourcing of Millersburg, Inc., a man sued his employer for sexual harassment and hostile work environment based upon sexually explicit text messages sent to him by his supervisor outside of work hours. The court refused to dismiss the employee’s case holding that the off-duty texts were sufficiently threatening and humiliating, and could be used to support his Title VII claims.

Key Takeaway: The traditional definition of the workplace has expanded with advances in technology such as blogs, websites and social media. Thus, employers cannot always escape liability for cyberbullying simply because it occurs off duty or away from work when such inappropriate activity also has a connection to the workplace.

The EEOC is seeking to expand EE0-1 reports to require that employers disclose aggregate pay data and hours worked in order to address discriminatory pay practices. More specifically, employers would need to calculate and report the number of employees whose earnings for the prior 12 month time period fall within certain established pay ranges.

Key Takeaway: Additional burdens may be created for employers by these new requirements including not only the effort involved in compiling and reporting the requested information, but also in potentially addressing increased regulatory and litigation activity based upon the information reported.

In EEOC v. Scott Medical Health Center and Pellet Cos., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed its first two lawsuits in federal court that allege that employers discriminated against their employees based upon sexual orientation. In order for these lawsuits to succeed, the EEOC will need to convince federal courts that sexual orientation bias is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Key Takeaway: Although most employers already prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, these EEOC lawsuits send a message that the agency is willing to go beyond just settling such claims and is willing to pursue the same in court.

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