New York residents may be interested to learn about some proposed federal law changes that could help to prevent sexual harassment by university scientists. In mid-January, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) spoke to the U.S. House of Representatives about an investigation into sexual harassment at the University of Arizona. In her speech, Speier said that university scientists who had been found guilty of sexual harassment were being moved around to different schools.
New York employees may be please to hear that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is fighting to have sexual orientation be protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC argued that, although Title VII does not specifically name sexual orientation as a protected class, sexual orientation is in fact sex discrimination, which is protected under that federal law.
A New York employee who encounters corrupt behavior on the job may find that there is a need to report such behavior to outside authorities if a supervisor or employer fails to act on the information. However, there are provisions for outside reporting if a such activity continues or if a whistleblower is harassed for bringing attention to such a situation. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is such an outside entity and operates its Office of the Whistleblower to oversee such issues as they relate to securities. In addition to handling reports of violations of securities laws, the office may reward whistleblowers whose assistance results in sanctions in excess of $1 million.
Employment discrimination can be a challenging area for New York employers as well as for their employees. Some of the most obvious areas of interest involve age and disability issues on the job, matters that can lead to legal problems for an employer who is not cautious in handling the dismissal of an employee in one of the protected categories. However, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act also provides certain protections for workers with regard to their employment benefits, and dismissals based on an employer's effort to deprive a worker of these benefits could fit into the category of discrimination.