Discrimination & Harassment

As someone who grew up in Connecticut and watched Channel 3 news religiously (at least before the internet), Denise D’Ascenzo, the local news anchor who passed away suddenly on Saturday, was one of a kind.  She was professional, authoritative, knowledgeable, and humble.

I loved watching her both on the news and during the yearly

It’s been far too long since our last installment from March 2019, but my ongoing dialogue with Nina Pirrotti, a prominent plaintiff’s-side employment law attorney, is back. In this post, we talked about the highlights from 2019 with a sneak peek at 2020.  My thanks to Nina for her contributions. You can find her firm’s blog posts here as well.  

Dan:  Nina! Good to talk with you again here.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving; mine was full of turkey, stuffing and even skiing.  But we have so much to talk about. It seems that 2019 has been a busy year in employment law which is kind of surprising because the economy keeps rolling on. I thought we’d look back on 2019 and look ahead to 2020.

From my perspective, it’s tough trying to recap 2019 in just one or two paragraphs. The most obviously trendline to me sees to be that the #metoo movement shows no signs of abating or of a backlash.  And for people like both you and me who care about social justice, this is a great thing. Real change to root out sexual harassment has been long overdue. We’re now going to see training mandated at basically all workplaces and other changes.  But will it be enough or will it stall out in 2020?

Paid FMLA is obviously another big topic but we’re really not going to see those changes until at least 2021.  What else stands out to you from this past year?

Nina: A warm hello to one of my favorite sparring partners.  It is so great to rekindle our feisty exchanges!

Well, Dan, as you may have guessed from the two articles I wrote for the Connecticut Law Tribune in October 2018 and mid-March 2019, the critical issues raised by the #MeToo movement continue to loom large for me this year.

While we have on rare (and much publicized) occasions, seen the pendulum swing too far in the other direction, (See e.g. “’Survivor’ Contestants Apologize After #Me Too” Backlash”), the movement has largely been a force for healthy, overdue change.
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  • Did you hear about the guy who went into a rage when he got the shorter end of the wishbone?
    He just snapped!

In prior posts, I’ve described how Valentine’s Day and Halloween have been fowl holidays for employers.  Many a harassment or discrimination complaint has been based on those holidays.

But what about Thanksgiving?

First off, let me dispense with the elephant in the room — Yes, the show “Survivor” is still on the air and yes, I haven’t missed any of the 39 seasons of it.

In fact, I shared lessons that employers could learn from Survivor way back in 2010.

Last week’s episode of Survivor, however, brought far more reality than most would think a “reality show” could or should bring.

There’s a lot of nuance to the episode that a short blog post can’t get into (though this podcast by Rob Cesterino gives it a try), but the show’s episode revolved around legitimate sexual harassment claims, using harassment claims for nefarious purposes, and bystander syndrome.

And it was ugly. Really ugly.

Why?  Here are a few things that stood out to me from an employment perspective:

First, a female player (Kellee) complained to a producer that another male player (Dan) was a little too “touchy” and made her feel uncomfortable. To be sure, there was plenty of video evidence to back her up.   The male player was given a “warning” and play continued.  But here’s the thing: The female player never knew that a warning was issued and Dan worked with others to get Kellee voted out of the game immediately thereafter.  Not telling the complainant what was going on with her complaint is just one of the ways the producers seem to have mishandled things.


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Last Friday, I had the opportunity to talk about Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace at the CBIA’s HR Conference.  There was a lot to cover in our discussion and a lot of takeaways too.

For those in Human Resources or in-house lawyers reviewing a company’s potential use of AI in the workplace, here are three

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that this is my absolute favorite time of the year.

No, it’s not Thanksgiving (though we should give thanks as I’ll explain in a second). But rather, it’s the release of the Annual Case Processing Report from the CHRO! 

Yes, we should give thanks to

As I noted last week, I’l be talking at CBIA’s Employment Law Conference on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence & Analytics for HR: Recruiting, Retention & Engagement” next month.

Joining me on the panel is Doug Smith, the SVP Client Delivery at Tallan, which has offices in the Greater Hartford area.  I thought it might

In just a few weeks, I’ll be speaking at the CBIA’s Employment Law Conference on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence & Analytics for HR: Recruiting, Retention & Engagement”.

As I was speaking to the moderator about potential subjects of our discussion, we were arguing over whether AI is something for the future or something

The laws regarding the protections owed to pregnant employees got far broader a few years back. In fact, the statutory provision prohibiting discrimination against pregnant employees has eleven key items. Rather than tackle them in separate posts, we’ll “super-size” this post to cover it all.

The main law is set forth at Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 46a-60(b)(7), though it is to be read in conjunction with the state’s broad anti-discrimination laws.

The key prohibitions state that it shall be a “discriminatory employment practice” for an employer (or the employer’s agent):

(A) To terminate a woman’s employment because of her pregnancy;

(B) to refuse to grant to that employee a reasonable leave of absence for disability resulting from her pregnancy;

(C) to deny to that employee, who is disabled as a result of pregnancy, any compensation to which she is entitled as a result of the accumulation of disability or leave benefits accrued pursuant to plans maintained by the employer;

(D) to fail or refuse to reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other service credits upon her signifying her intent to return unless, in the case of a private employer, the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so;

(E) to limit, segregate or classify the employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy;

(F) to discriminate against an employee or person seeking employment on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment;

(G) to fail or refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or person seeking employment due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that such accommodation would impose an undue hardship on such employer;
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