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What's Happening in H.R. - Special Alert

    June 17, 2020


    What’s Happening in HR – Newsletter Alert

    By Michael F. Weiner, Legislative Director                                                             06/17/20

    U.S. Supreme Court holds that Sexual Orientation and Transgendered status protected by Title VII 

    On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a consolidated opinion in three related cases involving employment discrimination against gay and transgendered individuals.  In Bostock v. Clayton County Georgia and Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., the employers terminated an employee for being gay.  In EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., the employer terminated an employee for being transgendered.  In Bostock, the Eleventh Circuit held that Title VII did not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination against employees, in Zarda the Second Circuit held that Title VII prohibited sexual orientation discrimination against employees, and in Harris, the Sixth Circuit held that Title VII prohibited transgendered employees. The Fifth Circuit, which governs Louisiana, has held that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation.

    The Supreme Court held that discrimination against an employee because of that employee’s sexual orientation or transgendered status is discrimination based on that employee’s sex and is therefore prohibited by Title VII. 

    In addition, the Supreme Court clarified that as long as the plaintiff’s “sex” was a but-for cause for the discrimination, even if there were other but-for causes, then Title VII would be violated.  Therefore, if the employee were terminated because of his or her sexual orientation or transgendered status and because of another issue, Title VII would be violated.   


    Governor Signs Bill to Protect Employers and Others from Covid-Related Claims. 

    HB 826 was introduced in the current legislative session by several legislatures to provide limitations for liability due to the Covid-19 virus.  HB 826 was signed by Governor Edwards and is now Act 336. 

    The limitation of liability extends to several different entities, including (1) those conducting business operations; (2) hosting, promoting, producing or organizing an event; and (3) manufacture or distribute personal protective equipment.

    It bears noting that employers will not be liable unless the employer “failed to substantially comply with the applicable COVID-19 procedures established by the federal, state, or local agency which governs the business operations”, and the injury or death was caused by the employer’s “gross negligence or wanton or reckless misconduct.”   The law also provides that if “two or more sources of procedures are applicable to the business operations at the time of the actual or alleged exposure,” the employer “shall substantially comply with any one applicable set of procedures.”

    A copy of the act is here.