Missouri News & Analysis

  • Title VII prohibits LGBTQ discrimination, Supreme Court rules

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination against employees because of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex. On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in a trio of cases that tested the question of whether Title VII's existing ban on discrimination "because of . . . sex" includes bias because an employee is gay or transgender. A six-justice majority of the Court ruled an employer indeed violates the law when it impermissibly considers an employee's LGBTQ status in making employment decisions.

  • OSHA issues new guidance for determining and reporting work-related COVID-19 cases

    On May 26, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued revised guidance regarding the reporting of COVID-19 cases. The guidance is available at https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-05-19/revised-enforcement-guidance-recording-cases-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 .

  • Bad behavior not enough to create hostile work environment

    Federal courts have become increasingly reluctant to find bad behavior at work is enough to establish a prohibited hostile work environment. A recent case from the 8th Circuit (which governs federal cases in Arkansas and Missouri) indicates just how difficult it has become for employees to establish the existence of a sufficiently hostile work environment to rise to the level of prohibited discrimination.

  • Dismissal of U.S. WNT's unequal pay claims provides helpful reminders

    In March 2019, members of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (WNT) filed a collective and class action lawsuit in federal court against the United States Soccer Federation, Inc. (USSF), asserting claims under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act (EPA). On May 1, 2020, a U.S. district court judge in the Central District of California ruled in favor of the USSF on nearly all of its requests for summary judgment (dismissal without a trial), removing the bulk of the WNT's claims and leaving few issues for the upcoming trial.

  • New Oklahoma law offers business operators protection from COVID-19 claims

    Concerns that clients, customers, or business associates could sue them over claims they were exposed to COVID-19 have made some businesses reluctant to reopen. We've already seen lawsuits filed against retail stores and restaurants from patrons who allege they were injured by exposure to the coronavirus while at those places of business. Congress has taken note of the liability concerns and is considering whether to enact a law to protect businesses against such claims. In the meantime, Oklahoma has beaten them to the punch by passing a law, but some requirements must be met to gain its protection.

  • Do what you say: Be sure your policies match your procedures

    A recent Arkansas Court of Appeals case serves as a cautionary tale regarding the due process rights of public employees and the need to follow your own rules very carefully. Private employers should learn from the ruling as well.

  • Telecommuting: It's not just for quarantines anymore

    With workplaces in Oklahoma reopening for business following Governor Kevin Stitt's "Open Up and Recover Safely" plan, many employers are evaluating whether temporary telecommuting policies can work in the long term for some employees. There are many reasons telecommuting may be a desired option at this time, such as enabling busy workplaces to enact social distancing rules by keeping a portion of the workforce home, helping working parents meet childcare obligations, and providing an accommodation to employees who still cannot return to the workplace because of health concerns.

  • Oklahoma employers, beware: Fraudulent unemployment claims on the rise

    Unemployment filings in Oklahoma, and elsewhere, are at an all-time high because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) recently stated it has paid more than $432 million in unemployment claims in the past six weeks alone. That's more than was paid in all of 2019. And with that uptick comes an increase in fraudulent claims as well.

  • Pandemic sparks unexpected question: What if workers unwilling to return?

    Restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning to ease in many parts of the country, and employers are starting to call back the millions of workers who joined the ranks of the unemployed a few months ago. Many workers are champing at the bit to get back to work, but others are hesitant. And that can put already-struggling employers in a bind.

  • Getting back to 'normal'? Here are some points to consider

    As employers look to a postpandemic recovery, they're shifting their attention toward getting back to "normal." But normal isn't what it used to be, and you now have to focus on keeping employees healthy ― and keeping your operations legally compliant. It's not going to be as simple as telling people to resume their work as they did before COVID-19 struck. Thoughts of personal protective equipment (PPE), engineering and administrative controls, discrimination risks, and more are now front and center.