Connecticut Employment Law Blog Insight on Labor & Employment Developments for Connecticut Businesses

Tag Archives: hostile work environment

Trump’s So-Called “Locker Room Talk”: Would It Count Towards a “Hostile Work Environment”?

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Manager & HR Pro’s Resource Center

I’ve always tried for this blog to be apolitical.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have political views — I obviously do — but I don’t think that they should play into how we look at certain legal issues. But we need to talk about the recorded comments from Donald Trump because I think employers need… Continue Reading

Hostile Work Environment Creator, Equal Opportunity Offender or Something Else?

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance

You work for a privately-owned multinational conglomerate with a high-profile CEO who loves Twitter and can’t stop talking. And that CEO, outside of work, has been critical of lots of people. In doing so, however, the CEO has made particular comments about certain women, comments such as: “She wanted to breast pump in front of… Continue Reading

Anonymous Threats in Workplace Don’t Give Employers Free Pass to Ignore

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Litigation, Manager & HR Pro’s Resource Center

As I return from an extended absence for the Thanksgiving holiday, my colleagues Gary Starr and Gabe Jiran share this alert about anonymous threats in the workplace based on a recent Circuit Court decision.  Employee complaints based on anonymous harassment pose special problems for employers.  How do you uncover the source of the problem when… Continue Reading

What is “Actionable” for Harassment Claims To Succeed

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight

As I continue recapping various sessions from the ABA Labor & Employment Law Annual Conference last week in Philadelphia, it’s time to turn to what makes claims “actionable” under today’s harassment laws. In other words, is the single use of an offensive word such as the “n-word” enough to survive a motion to dismiss or… Continue Reading

When Employee Models for Playgirl, Harassment May Be “Because of Sex”

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Litigation

Late last month, a federal court in Connecticut took another look at the prohibition of discrimination “because of sex” with a case that has all the elements of a “can you believe it” fact-pattern that will surely be used for harassment training going forward. The case involves a male employee posed for Playgirl nearly two decades… Continue Reading

Will “Fifty Shades of Grey” Launch Fifty Hostile Work Environment Claims?

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Manager & HR Pro’s Resource Center, Social Media

Back in May 2012, I wrote this about a book that was making its way around various book clubs that was dubbed by The New York Times as “Mommy Porn”. [H]aving someone read [Fifty Shades of Grey] alone during a lunch break, by itself, is probably not enough to establish a sexual harassment claim. The fact that it… Continue Reading

Can Employers Win a Case Where a Single Use of the N-Word Is Alleged? Perhaps

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Litigation

There are a few words in our language that still have the ability to shock and hurt others.  The N-word is one of them. (I’ll use it sparingly here but note that courts use the actual language in court opinions too; for courts, accuracy is important.) Frankly, it’s not a word that pops up in a lot of… Continue Reading

Legislative Preview: Will the CHRO Bill Get Passed This Year?

Posted in CHRO & EEOC, Highlight, Legislative Developments

The short session of the Connecticut General Assembly is set to begin on February 5, 2014. But the jockeying for items to get on the agenda is well under way. The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities is circulating a proposed bill that would followup on a failed bill from last year’s term. I previously… Continue Reading

What Remedy Is Appropriate When a Jury Concludes Sexual Harassment Occurred?

Posted in CHRO & EEOC, Class Actions, Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Litigation

A case out of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (of which, Connecticut is part of) addresses an interesting question: When a jury  finds that sexual harassment has been perpetuated by a single employee, is injunctive (non-monetary) relief required to be issued by the District Court? The EEOC argued yes and argued that remedies such as… Continue Reading

Court: Alleged Assaults Are Not “Adverse Employment Actions”

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Litigation

Years ago, it was believed that summary judgment motions by employers should be rarely granted.  And yet, judges in Connecticut district court keep granting these motions.  A recent federal court case in Connecticut is the latest example of how courts are using their power to weed out cases before they reach a jury. In Miller v. Ethan Allen Global… Continue Reading

Summer Reading: Is the “Mommy Porn” in “Fifty Shades of Grey” Workplace Safe?

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance

Is someone bringing “Mommy Porn” (The New York Times words, not mine) into the workplace? Yes, THAT book, 50 Shades of Grey, has been making the rounds. And chances are, with Memorial Day weekend upon us, more than a few people will be bringing it to the beach, or perhaps to the lunch room next… Continue Reading

Conn. Supreme Court: Law Bars Hostile Work Environment Based on Sexual Orientation

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Litigation

The Connecticut Supreme Court, in a decision that will be officially released on May 15, 2012, today ruled unanimously that Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws implicitly create a claim for hostile work environment based on an employee’s sexual orientation.  The state’s anti-discrimination laws have long been interpreted to bar a hostile work environment based on gender, but… Continue Reading

Connecticut Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Hostile Work Environment and CTFMLA Cases

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Highlight, Laws and Regulations, Litigation, Wage & Hour

It’s not very often that the Connecticut Supreme Court considers employment law issues. But today, two notable cases are being argued in front of the court. Both could have an impact on employers in the state. In Patino v. Birken Manufacturing, the court is being asked to consider whether a hostile work environment harassment claim… Continue Reading

Is it Ever a Good Idea to Friend Subordinates or, for Teachers, Students?

Posted in Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Social Media

Lately, I’ve been doing quite a few presentations on social media, including, most recently, one for a school district. One of the trickiest questions that comes up: Is it "legal" to "friend" a subordinate in the workplace? Or for teachers, is it "legal" to "friend" a student?  (I use the term "friend" to be the… Continue Reading

Teaching Teachers about Social Media and Technology in the Workplace

Posted in Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Social Media

On Friday, I’ll be speaking to a group of local high school and middle school teachers about some best practices on the use of technology in the workplace.   Among the central messages of the presentation? No guideline can be a substitute for using good judgment and common sense. With teachers, that message is more important… Continue Reading

The Office Holiday Party – Alcohol-Induced Stupidity Can Lead to Serious Sexual Harassment Claims

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Human Resources (HR) Compliance

UPDATED There are no statistics out there to prove this point, but the traditional office holiday party has to be among the top places where claims of sexual harassment and hostile work environment start. Indeed, just a cursory look at some federal employment cases shows a common thread that run through each of them: alcohol-induced… Continue Reading

Halloween is No Excuse for Harassment: A Spooky History for Employers

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Human Resources (HR) Compliance

For most people, Halloween is a fun and silly holiday. Yet the holiday has a distinct place in employment law history.  Indeed, for some employers, the holiday has brought more tricks than treats.  In Marrero v. Goya of Puerto Rico, 304 F.3d 7 (1st Cir. 2002), a supervisor was alleged to have gone out to… Continue Reading

Second Circuit: Repeated Use of “Bitch” May Be Enough to Create Hostile Work Environment

Posted in CHRO & EEOC, Discrimination & Harassment, Litigation

If you’re an employer with an appeal to the Second Circuit, having the EEOC write a brief on behalf of the Plaintiff-employee is not one of those things that portends well for the case. So, when the Second Circuit issued its decision in Pucino v. Verizon Communications (download here), perhaps the writing was already on the… Continue Reading

Second Circuit: What is an Adverse Employment Action? It’s Not a “Failure to Investigate”

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment

On Friday, the Second Circuit held that a company’s failure to investigate an in-house race discrimination complaint is not an "adverse employment action" that can subject.  (H/T Wait a Second). The case, Fincher v. Depository Trust (download here), provides some much needed guidance on what rises to the level of an action that an employee can… Continue Reading

Progressive Discipline Policies: What They Are And Understanding Risks and Benefits to Them

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment

"Progressive Discipline" is a policy or practice that, over the years, has fallen out of favor with some employers. What is it? It’s a practice — found also in some collective bargaining agreements — that typically provides a multi-step disciplinary process for many employment policy violations: a verbal warning, a written warning, a suspension, and… Continue Reading

Appellate Court Dismisses Claims Against State On Sovereign Immunity and Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Grounds

Posted in CHRO & EEOC, Discrimination & Harassment, Litigation

In a decision that will be officially released on Tuesday, November 24th, the Connecticut Appellate Court has ruled that wrongful termination and breach of implied contract claims cannot be brought against the State of Connecticut due to the protections of sovereign immunity.  The case Ware v. State of Connecticut (download here), will be of greater… Continue Reading

Fox 61 Reporter Discrimination Case: FAQ, Analysis and What’s Next – Part II

Posted in Litigation

Last week, I discussed the basics of some of the claims of discrimination and harassment filed by Fox 61 reporter Shelly Sindland.  Today, I’ll discuss some more specifics of the claim and some of the possible defenses by the employer, to provide additional context.  The case provides an excellent starting point to discuss several different… Continue Reading

Appellate Court Outlines Differences Again Between Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Work Environment Harassment

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Litigation

During some of the seminars that I teach on sexual harassment prevention, one of the topics that is covered is describing the difference between quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. On Wednesday, the Connecticut Appellate Court taught that same lesson in reviewing a case in which an employee (who lost a trial)… Continue Reading

Court Flushes Away Disability Claim; Finds that Toilet-Training Book for Kids Not Enough to Create Hostile Work Environment

Posted in CHRO & EEOC, Discrimination & Harassment, Litigation

Is putting a toilet training book, such as one allegedly called "The Book of Poop", on a disabled co-worker’s desk sufficient to create a Hostile Work Environment? Not according to a decision this week by Judge Dominic Squatrito in federal court in Connecticut (download here).  Thus begins another fine chapter in American Jurisprudence. I thought about a serious review… Continue Reading