Once every four years we add an extra day to our calendar in order to keep it synched with the astronomical or seasonal year. While days and months can quickly spin by, keeping tabs on changes in employment law can greatly benefit your business. This month we take a look at religious accommodation in the workplace and the effect of a Wisconsin business’ decision to begin enforcing a company policy on scheduled breaks.
C. Douglas Moran heads up Carlson Dash’s employment law practice. Doug’s experience includes representing employers, banks and companies ranging from single member LLCs and closely-held corporations to Fortune 500 companies. Through his employment practice, Doug has advised employers, and litigated when necessary, issues related to state and federal laws. He has prosecuted and defended claims brought under the Uniform Partnership Act, the Fraudulent Conveyance Act, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Uniform Commercial Code, as well as various contract and common law claims.
Doug has been a frequent speaker on employment issues in Michigan and Illinois and has developed and presented employment-related seminars for individual employers relating to all employment-related topics, including avoiding/investigating discrimination and sexual harassment claims.
Religious Accommodation and Undue Hardship:
Striking the Balance for Illinois and Wisconsin Employers
Ariens Manufacturing, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer had a long history of allowing prayer time for its Muslim employees, until the company decided to strictly enforce its break policies. This enforcement found the company facing accusations of religious discrimination. Read on to find out more about religion and Title VII.
Sexual Orientation – Still Not Protected by Title VII
The Northern District of Illinois recently emphasized that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect individuals who claim they are harassed for their sexual orientation. In David Igasaki v. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, et al., No. 15 C 3693, Igasaki alleged his immediate supervisor gave Igasaki, a lawyer for the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, a good performance review in 2011, but then began harassing him the following year after discovering that Igasaki is gay. According to Igasaki, his supervisor humiliated him, gave him an extremely heavy workload, set impossible deadlines and assigned him a small work station that did not accommodate his gout. Igasaki was fired last March.
Judge Andrea R. Wood dismissed the count in Igasaki’s lawsuit that maintained he was a victim of a violation of Title VII. In her opinion, Judge Wood wrote that sexual orientation “is not a protected class under Title VII.” Wood also acknowledged that Title VII protects victims of “sex stereotyping” or “gender stereotyping.” In the lawsuit, Igasaki alleged that he was criticized for being “too soft” and “not aggressive enough.” Judge Wood wrote that Igasaki contended that such criticism evidenced sex or gender stereotyping—i.e., discrimination for failing to conform to stereotypical male roles of authority—which amounted to sex discrimination. However, Igasaki alleged these comments began only after his supervisor learned of Igasaki’s sexual orientation. Presuming neither Igasaki’s gender nor his approach to his cases had materially changed over the 20 years he was employed by the department, Judge Woods found the comments did not evidence sex or gender stereotyping.