Mississippi News & Analysis

  • Is retaliation based on sexual orientation unlawful under Title VII?

    In a recent case before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Mississippi employers), an employee claimed her former employer retaliated against her when it fired her because of her sexual orientation and because of a company executive's reaction to her pro-heterosexual remarks on Facebook. Recognizing that a claim for retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires, among other things, a showing that an employee opposed activity she reasonably believed to be unlawful, the court dismissed the employee's claims, finding she couldn't have reasonably believed the employer's actions to be unlawful since sexual orientation discrimination isn't unlawful under Title VII. That ruling should come as no surprise to Mississippi employers—at least for now.

  • Promoting employer-sponsored volunteering without running afoul of FLSA

    Volunteering is an effective way for organizations to maximize their impact on the community while minimizing costs. In recent years, as corporate social responsibility has received increased attention in academia and from the media, corporations have begun to play a larger role in global, national, and local efforts to remedy broader societal issues. Corporate volunteering initiatives have grown exponentially over the last decade as consulting groups such as Deloitte and popular business publications such as Forbes laud volunteering as beneficial for company morale, productivity, and brand perception.

  • Supreme Court will decide whether LGBT discrimination is unlawful

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the long-unresolved question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue has been percolating in the lower courts for quite a while. As it frequently does, the Court declined to consider the question until there was a conflict between several appellate courts. Let's take a look at the history of the Court's decisions, the arguments on both sides of the issue, and what we can expect next.

  • September 30 deadline looms for newly required EEO-1 data

    Employers required to submit EEO-1 reports to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are venturing into uncharted territory as they work to collect newly required information due by September 30. While they may be accustomed to submitting traditional EEO-1 information—data on employees' race/ethnicity and gender, or what's being called Component 1 data—this year they also must compile data on compensation and hours worked, or what's being called Component 2 data.

  • Is caring for a sibling protected under the FMLA?

    Q One of our employees has asked to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for his adult sibling, who has no other family. Can he take FMLA leave in this situation?

  • Reinstatement after termination: adding insult to injury

    Employers that have the misfortune of unsuccessfully defending against employment-related claims by a former employee expect to face the prospect of a monetary award by a jury. But a monetary award accounting for lost wages isn't the only remedy to which a former employee may be entitled. Courts also must consider whether the former employee should be put back to work. In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit (whose decisions apply to all Mississippi employers) addressed the issue of reinstatement and set forth the relevant factors a court must consider when deciding whether an employee should be reinstated after winning a lawsuit. Let's take a look.

  • Questions of veracity: when employer's termination reason isn't enough to avoid trial

    We see it all the time: An employer knows it was justified in terminating an employee. After all, she was confrontational and unprofessional and didn't perform her duties satisfactorily. But is that sufficient reason for terminating her? Can the employer avoid a trial in such a case, or will questions of truthfulness prevent it from getting the employee's claims dismissed without a trial? A recent case before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi is a reminder that simply believing you have a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for an employment decision isn't always enough, particularly if the veracity of that reason is questionable.

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.

  • Tips to ensure you are prepared for a deposition

    For an HR professional, giving a deposition is a lot like visiting the dentist. You know it's necessary, but you probably aren't looking forward to it. You may be asked questions you don't want to answer (like how often you actually floss). And finally, consistently responsible practices should reduce your stress levels about the event, make it go a lot smoother, and prevent worse problems in the future.

  • Paying an employee who can’t perform his job

    Q We have an employee who suffers from gout. When it flares up, he is unable to perform his duties. Are we within our rights to send him home without pay until he can do his job?