Parks Chesin & Walbert | Blog
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From Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas to Gretchen Carlson, Roger Ailes: Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

Mention sexual harassment to anyone of news-viewing age in the 1990s and few names spring to mind faster than Anita Hill or Clarence Thomas. The phrase “sexual harassment” was first coined by journalist and Cornell lecturer, Lin Farley, as a succinct description of the unwelcome, insidious behavior women experienced in male-dominated work environments. However, the phrase – and its meaning – didn’t come to national prominence until 1991 – the year Clarence Thomas was nominated to the United States Supreme Court.


Employment Practices Liability Insurance: What It Is & Why It Matters

Roger Murdoch is probably thankful he has insurance.

Earlier this year, Gretchen Carlson, a former high-profile news anchor on Fox News, sued Roger Ailes and Fox for damages relating to decades of sexual harassment she experienced during her Fox News tenure. Her suit quickly settled for an astonishing $20 million. In the aftermath, many women employed at Fox came forward (and continue to come forward) with stories about a pervasive business culture of both quid pro quo and hostile-work-environment types of harassment within the Fox News corporation.


The History of Sexual Harassment Claims in the Workplace

It is only in the last 50 years that sexual harassment has become recognized as an obstacle to a safe working environment for all employees. For hundreds of years it was nearly impossible for a woman to successfully bring claims of rape or a lawsuit for damages against an employer who harassed her or demanded sexual favors. The rise of the Women’s Rights Movement in the mid-1800’s brought to light the issue of sexual coercion of working women (particularly servants). However, this generally received less attention than women’s lack of access to property rights, poor working conditions, and societal dependence on men.


College Admissions: Georgetown’s Decision & What It Could Mean for Employment Law

In September, Georgetown University announced preferential admissions status would be given to descendants of slaves that were used to benefit the University (specifically 272 slaves that were sold to help keep Georgetown afloat financially in 1838). The preference granted would be akin to the preference given to children and grandchildren of alumni. The preference was announced along with a number of initiatives as a means to atone for the University’s past reliance on slave labor and upon the recommendations of a committee commissioned last year.


5 of the Most Common Mistakes Employers Make

The employer-employee relationship is a power dynamic that can often involve emotions. When an employee is terminated it is important for cooler heads to prevail in order to avoid litigation. Below, are five common employer mistakes (out of many!) to avoid if you want the separation to go smoothly as possible.


Sexual Harassment: Blurred Lines

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes workplace sexual harassment illegal. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other sexual conduct that “explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment”. This includes “quid pro quo” behavior, and any conduct that works to create a hostile work environment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with enforcing Title VII. An investigation will consider the wider picture of the workplace by asking questions like: What is the nature of the sexual advances? What is the context of the workplace?


Whistleblower Win: Changes That Go Ch-Ching

On a local and national scale, whistleblowers are starting to win.

In August, the U.S. tax court awarded over $17 million to a pair of whistleblowers in a landmark decision that expanded the range of what can be claimed in such cases. For the first time, the tax court’s ruling permitted whistleblowers to get a portion of criminal fines and civil forfeitures in addition to part of the taxes the government recouped because of information they provided. The Wall Street Journal reports that the parties involved in the case weren’t disclosed, but it appears to stem from the prosecution of Wegelin & Co. The Swiss bank closed after it pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to hide money from the IRS.


Sexual Assault Cases: Biased Against Male Students?

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education, under the instruction of the Obama Administration, sent a letter to colleges and universities across the country clarifying (and in the opinion of many, expanding) the schools’ obligations under Title IX to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault on campus. Many incidents of sexual assault on campus are – rightly or wrongly – adjudicated by colleges and universities rather than courts of law. The changes introduced in the “Dear Colleague” letter are making waves in communities across the country.


After Orlando: What Georgia Employers Should Know about Gun Laws and How They Could Change

A Mass Shooting Tragedy Claims 49 Lives

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a U.S.-born-and-raised Afghani, entered an Orlando night club with a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 and killed 49 people while pledging allegiance to ISIL. It is the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001 and the deadliest single-gunman mass shooting in U.S. history. Following the tragedy, the long-standing debate over regulation of gun ownership in the US rages on. Part of the debate over whether gun ownership restrictions would have prevented the Orlando tragedy stems from the fact that Mateen held a valid concealed carry permit and legally purchased the weapons and ammunition he used even though the FBI briefly placed Mateen on a terrorist watch list following his expression of pro-al-Quaeda and pro-ISIS sentiments.