USSC Upholds Equal Protection for Victims of Sex-Based Discrimination

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that settles the greatly contested issue of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act’s protection against discrimination on the basis of sex, includes sexual orientation and gender identity.  The ruling stems from three cases, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Barstock v. Clayton County, Georgia, in which the plaintiffs were terminated following their employer learning that each were gay, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where the plaintiff was terminated after she informed her employer that she was going to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The decision, which was written by Judge Gorsuch essentially states that one cannot discriminate against an individual on the basis of their being gay or transgender and not offend Title VII’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination.  This ruling settles years of contradictory administrative interpretations and enforcement of sex-based discrimination under Title VII.  While most states have settled this issue by enacting state-level prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, this definitively ensures the protections of entire classes of individuals who were previously unprotected by the law. Employer are encouraged to revisit all policies, procedures, and practices to (more…)

Nevada Passes Law that Restricts Employer Drug Test Use in Hiring

A new Nevada law that bans employers from refusing to hire job candidates who fail a drug test due to the presence of marijuana has specifically carved out Fire, EMS, or employers whose employees must operate a motor vehicle.  The new law, which was signed by Governor Sisolak on June 5th makes it unlawful for most employers to fail to hire a job candidate on the basis of failing a drug screen due to the presence of marijuana.  Nevada is the first state to pass a law of this nature.  The new law takes effect in 2020. Many employers are struggling to address their employee’s drug use and its impact on the workplace as thirty-three (33) states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that legalize marijuana in some form.  This is particularly difficult with EMS and public safety employers.  Generally, most EMS and public safety employers prohibit employee use of marijuana and other drugs because they are federal contractors and are subject to the Drug Free Workplace Act.  Other employers prohibit employee drug use because EMS personnel perform “safety sensitive” positions as defined under the Department of Transportation Regulations.  However, those employers who are not subject to the...

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