Employment Law This Week: Pregnant Workers, Time-Rounding Practice, Gender Discrimination, National Origin Discrimination

Episode 27: Week of May 16, 2016

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We invite you to view Employment Law This Week - a weekly rundown of the latest news in the field, brought to you by Epstein Becker Green. We look at the latest trends, important court decisions, and new developments that could impact your work. Join us every Monday for a new five-minute episode! Read the firm's press release here and subscribe for updates.

This week’s stories include ...

(1) New Guidance Issued for Pregnant Workers in NYC

New York City announces new guidance for pregnant workers. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Human Rights Commission have released new guidance that defines pregnancy protections under the City’s Human Rights Law. The publication gives examples of accommodations that should be made by employers and outlines what an employer must prove when denying an accommodation. Nancy Gunzenhauser, from Epstein Becker Green, has more. See the extended interview here.

(2) Ninth Circuit Approves Time-Rounding Practice

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirms an employer’s time-rounding practice. A call-center employee in California recently brought a class action lawsuit against his employer for time-rounding practices. The employee claims that the policy caused him to be underpaid by a total of $15 over 13 months. Relying on a California Court of Appeals precedent, the Ninth Circuit found that the company’s facially neutral rounding policy—one that rounds time both up and down—is legal under California law. The employee also argued that he was denied payment for a total of one minute when he logged into call software before he clocked in. The Ninth Circuit found that the de minimis doctrine applied in this case, because identifying a single instance in order to provide payment would create an undue burden on the employer. For more on this story, click here.

(3) Tech Company Settles Gender Discrimination Complaint

A Virginia-based tech firm settles with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on transgender discrimination. An employee of technology services company Ellucian was working on site at a college campus when she told coworkers that she planned to transition from male to female. The employee was barred from work the next day. An EEOC investigation revealed that the college had asked the company to remove the employee from campus, and Ellucian complied. The company has agreed to pay $140,000 to settle the complaint. Ellucian will also change its employee code of conduct to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

(4) EEOC’s English Proficiency Suit Moves Forward

More from the EEOC this week: The agency can now move forward with an English proficiency suit against Wisconsin Plastics, Inc. In 2014, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against the company for firing 22 Hmong and Hispanic workers who were not proficient in English. A U.S. district court judge in Wisconsin denied a motion for summary judgment, ruling that a jury could reasonably find that the terminations were a result of national origin discrimination. While language proficiency might be required for some jobs, the judge found that Wisconsin Plastics hadn’t provided sufficient evidence that this was the case for the jobs in question.

(5) In-House Tip of the Week

Kristen O’Connor, Employment Counsel at the Marsh & McLennan Companies, shares some advice on building a strong relationship between Legal and IT.

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