Monday, July 22, 2024

What does Project 2025 mean for employers? Discrimination edition

I promise this post is not political … but we do have to talk about Project 2025.

Project 2025 is an initiative organized by the Heritage Foundation aimed at preparing for a conservative presidential administration after the November election. Its goal is to promote conservative policies and ensure that the right personnel are in place to implement those policies from day one of the administration. Some call it a utopian dream, others (🙋‍♂️) an authoritarian dystopian nightmare.

Regardless of where you fall in this philosophical political debate, Project 2025 contains a lot of information of interest to employers — specifically, what changes they could expect to labor and employment laws in a second Trump administration.

Friday, July 19, 2024

WIRTW #724: the 'summer' edition

Our summer is sadly winding down. Vacation is over. I have one kid leaving for college in less than four weeks, and other starting his high-school sophomore year a week later. So, I'll be trying to spend as much time with my kids in the coming weeks as possible. This includes enjoying my daughter's final few gigs of a very busy music summer.

If you want to catch norah marie gigging before she heads off to college, these are your final five chances.

All events are free. And, if you happen to know of a brewery, winery, coffee shop, or other venue in central Ohio booking live music, please let me know. 

Here's what I read and heard that you should, too.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

"Do as I say, not as I do" — HR leader fired for harassment loses discrimination lawsuit

A female HR supervisor attends an out-of-town leadership retreat with some co-workers. They observe her at the hotel bar telling off-color jokes, directing repeated profanity at employees who refused to drink alcohol, and toasting a slur for the female anatomy.

Several complain to her boss about the inappropriate behavior. The company investigates and ultimately fires her for violating its harassment policy.

The HR supervisor then sues for sex discrimination, claiming that the company did not fire a male employee who engaged in similar misconduct. Specifically, she claims that he had once asked her "if the carpet matched the drapes" (which she advised the company during its investigation).

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Discrimination liability for "agents" extends to AI vendors, says federal court

Can an HR software vendor be held liable for the alleged discriminatory hiring decisions of its customers? According to one federal court, the answer is yes.

Derek Mobley — a Black man over the age of 40 who suffers from anxiety and depression — alleges that he applied for 80-100 positions since 2018 that use Workday as a screening tool … and has been rejected every single time despite his qualifications.

Mobley claims that Workday's artificial intelligence unlawfully favors applicants outside of protected classes through its reliance on algorithms and inputs influenced by conscious and unconscious biases.

Last week, the federal judge hearing Mobley's claim rejected Workday's efforts to dismiss the lawsuit on the basis that it was not Mobley's "employer" and thus the workplace anti-discrimination laws do not cover its actions in this context.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Refusing to participate in mandatory training isn't "protected activity," it's insubordination

"I am not taking this training because it's a joke … making non-white colleagues all victims and turning white colleagues … into villains."

That's what Charles Vavra wrote in an email to the HR Director of Honeywell International, his now former employer, after she had reminded him of the company's requirement that he complete its unconscious bias training.

Over the next few weeks, the HR Director and other company officers tried to convince Vavra to complete the training. Vavra's response? "Whatever the consequences … I will accept." The consequences were Vavra's termination.

Vavra had a strange way of showing his acceptance of those consequences. He sued Honeywell for retaliation, claiming that his opposition to mandatory DEI training constituted protected activity under Title VII.

Friday, July 12, 2024

WIRTW #723: the 'A Portuguesa' edition

I love to travel for two primary reasons: to see things and to experience things.

On my vacation to São Miguel in the Azores Islands, I saw lots of amazing things — beautiful coastal viewpoints, crater lakes from both their rims and from inside, bubbling volcanic baths, dolphins, whales, waterfalls, cows (so many cows), and lush green landscapes.

But one experience will stick with me as the standout memory of this vacation.

Portugal was playing France in the quarterfinals of the Euros. Since we a) are a soccer-loving family; and b) were in Portugal, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch the game with the locals.

We gathered in the Campo de São Francisco in the capital city of Ponta Delgada, where the local government had set up a large viewing screen. More than a thousand football crazy Azoreans joined us. It was special.

The crowd rose and fell with the highs and lows of what ended up being a 0-0 draw that went to penalties. While the match didn’t end how we wanted, the experience will live with me forever.

Here's a quick snippet of the crowd singing the Portuguese national anthem, A Portuguesa, pre-match.

Here's what I read this week that you should read, too.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

What is "implicit bias" and how to combat it in your business

Dwight Jackson, a Black man, claims that the Shinola Hotel denied him a job interview because of his race. He knows this, he says, because he reapplied for the same job at the same hotel with the same resume ... with one key difference. He changed his name to John Jebrowski. While the hotel didn't offer Jackson an interview, it did offer one to Jebrowski. That, Jackson says in his recently filed lawsuit, is race discrimination.

Inherent bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that unconsciously affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. These biases can silently influence hiring decisions, leading to discrimination based on characteristics such as race. Name bias is one example of how inherent biases manifest themselves.