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Volume 6, Issue 1
January 2017
Domestic Violence in the Louisiana Workplace, Part 8: Victim Protection Laws and Benefits

It is not a matter of if, but when an employer will be confronted with a challenging domestic violence-related issue in the workplace. Domestic violence not only causes lost productivity and increased costs for employers, but also raises a host of potential legal obligations and liabilities that employers cannot afford to overlook. In this monthly series, Labor and Employment attorney Rachael Coe will discuss the various ways that domestic violence impacts the Louisiana workplace and what employers need to know in order to protect their employees, their customers, and themselves.

There are many resources to aid domestic violence victims and maintain their safety which this series has addressed in previous installments (See Parts 4 and 7 of this series). This month's edition of Domestic Violence in the Louisiana Workplace focuses on two lesser-known benefits that employers may encounter: insurance portability and confidential addresses. To read the full article by Rachael M. Coe, click here. 
Louisiana Transgender Employee Wins Employment Discrimination Case
Tristan Broussard, a transgender former employee of an installment loan company in Lake Charles, Louisiana recently won a sex discrimination claim against his former employer. Broussard filed a federal complaint in April 2015, claiming the company fired him after learning he was a transgender man. An arbitrator ruled that the company discriminated against Broussard "because of his sex" in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to Broussard, he was called into a company vice president's office during his first week on the job and instructed to sign a document stating that his "preference to act and dress as male" was not "in compliance" with the company's personnel policies. The arbitrator found that, in order to "escape an intolerable and illegal requirement" Broussard involuntarily resigned. Courts across the country have begun recognizing transgender workers as being protected under Title VII, which prohibits sex discrimination. Under the Obama administration, the EEOC has also made it clear that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire employees because they are transgender. 
New Final Rule for Employers from the Department of Justice
On Monday, December 19, 2016, the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division issued a final rule revising regulations that interpret the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The final rule is meant to conform Department regulations and provide updates in order to ensure effective investigations of unfair immigration related to employment practices. The final rule relates to the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1996 (IRCA). The law prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual because of his or her national origin or citizenship status. IRCA also created the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (Special Counsel) to enforce the provision. The final rule does not require major changes to the Form I-9 employment authorization process. The significant revisions are as follows: incorporation of the intent requirement contained in the amended statutes; replacement of references to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with references to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in accordance with the Homeland Security Act of 2002; and reflection of the change in name from Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices to the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section. 
Costco Ordered to pay $250K in Customer Harassment Suit
A federal district court jury in Illinois has ruled that Costco Wholesale, Inc. must pay $250,000 in damages to a former female employee who was sexually harassed by a male customer for more than a year. The EEOC sued Costco for failing to stop the harassment of Dawn Suppo, an employee at the Glenview, Illinois warehouse store. Suppo complained about a customer's unwelcome touching and stalking, but Costco did not take effective steps to address the harassment. The jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois unanimously found Costco in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act after a seven-day trial. The EEOC said the customer told store managers about his contacts with Suppo, and they did not act to stop it which resulted in Suppo obtaining a restraining order against the customer. Under Title VII, employers can be held liable for third-party harassment of employees if they are aware of the conduct and do not take steps to stop the harassment. 
Hospital Workers Exempt From Getting Flu Shot Due to Religious Objection
Saint Vincent Health Center in Erie, Pennsylvania agreed to grant religious exemptions from its flu vaccine requirement and pay $300,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit filed on behalf of six employees who refused flu shots because of their religious beliefs. Saint Vincent must adhere to a broad definition of religion under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in applying its exemption policy. The hospital will not be allowed to deny exemption requests because it disagrees with the employee's belief or because it believes the stated religious belief is unfounded, illogical or inconsistent in some way unless it would pose an undue hardship on hospital operations. The hospital is offering reinstatement to the six employees who were fired for refusing the vaccine after their exemption requests were denied. 
Management Update Briefings

Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. Labor & Employment Attorneys 



Leo C. Hamilton