Discrimination and Harassment

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Digital Reality Inc. v. Somers, has narrowed the definition of "whistleblower." The case involves Paul Somers, who was the Vice President at Digital Realty Trust, Inc., from 2010 to 2014. During this time he filed reports to senior management about possible securities law violations by the company. Digital Realty eventually terminated Somers, and he filed suit in the U.S. district court for California, alleging that Digital Realty terminated him for his reports of securities law violations in violation of the anti-retaliation protections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010 following the 2008 financial crisis and expanded the whistleblower incentives and protections under the 2002 Sarbanese-Oxley Act. The district court held Somers was a “whistleblower” under the statute, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision on behalf of Somers. Digital Realty subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that Somers was not a “whistleblower” as defined by Dodd-Frank because Somers did not report his concerns to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before he was terminated. On January 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision, overturning the 9th Circuit by holding that Somers was not a “whistleblower” as defined by Dodd-Frank, because he did not first report his claims to the SEC. Read more here.  

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has completed its mailing of the 2017 “EEO-1 Survey Notification Letters” to employers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that 84,254 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the federal agency nationwide during fiscal year (FY) 2017.

In a 3-2 decision involving The Boeing Company, the National Labor Relations Board overruled Lutheran Heritage Village-Livonia, 343 NLRB 646 (2004), which articulated the Board’s previous standard governing whether facially neutral workplace rules, policies and employee handbook provisions unlawfully interfere with the exercise of rights protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Alex Kozinski, a high-profile federal judge, has retired following sexual harassment accusations from at least 15 women.

According to a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, by the Communication Workers of America, thirteen companies including T-Mobile US, Amazon, Inc., and Cox Communications Inc., imposed age limits on who could see recruitment ads, allegedly limiting some only to people younger than 38.

Chas. S. Winner, Inc., doing business as Winner Ford of Cherry Hill and Winner Ford, will pay $150,000 to settle a federal pay discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has launched an EEOC Public Portal to provide online access to individuals inquiring about discrimination.

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed AB 1209 (Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego), which would have required large companies in California to disclose data on how they are paying men and women differently.

California employers are now prohibited from asking job applicants about their prior salary and, if applicants ask, employers must give them a pay range for the job they are seeking, under a new state law, AB 168,  that takes effect January 1, 2018.