Numerous lawsuits and federal agencies may serve to shape labor and employment law across the country and in North Carolina. Here is a summary of some recent or pending outcomes:
Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation
Failure to Accommodate a Disability: Marijuana Use
- In Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of a transgender male high schooler, observing that if a school provides sex-segregated bathrooms pursuant to Title IX, transgender students may use the restroom associated with their gender identity.
- In Carcano v. McCrory, a North Carolina federal court will consider whether the controversial HB2 violates Title IX and equal protection rights of a lesbian employee, a transgender student, and a transgender employee of our state universities.
- In two separate cases, EEOC v. Pallet Companies and EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Funeral Homes, Inc., other federal courts will consider Title VII claims for wrongful termination or harassment of employees, respectively a lesbian and a transgender female, based on the workers’ sexual orientation or non-conformity with the employer’s gender expectations or stereotypes.
- In Broussard v. First Loan Tower, LLC, a federal court will consider a Title VII claim for wrongful termination based on a transgender male employee’s gender identity when the employee produced a driver’s license, indicating “female,” to a manger to complete employment paperwork and explained his transgender status.
- In Lusardi v. McHugh, a transgender female was restricted to using a single stall restroom instead of the women’s restroom. The EEOC ruled that supervisory or co-worker confusion does not justify discriminatory employment conditions.
- The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration has instructed that an employee should be permitted to use a restroom corresponding to gender identity and that the employee may choose the safest and most appropriate option.
Department of Labor Overtime Regulation Changes
- North Carolina allows certain individuals with epilepsy to use and possess extracts from marijuana plants.
- In Colorado, in Coats v. Dish Network, a court upheld the termination of a quadriplegic employee who used medical marijuana because use of marijuana still violates federal law and remains a lawful basis for termination even if state law permits its use.
- If asked to accommodate medicinal marijuana, seek legal counsel.
- Warning, Sharp Curve Ahead: Changes to the Department of Labor’s Overtime Regulations May Be Fast Approaching.
Given the evolution of these cases, employers are wise to review their employee handbooks, policies and procedures, and seek legal advice to learn how they can reduce their potential for liability.
Kara Gansmann, a North Carolina native, is an associate in Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP’s Wilmington office, where she focuses her litigation and appellate practice on various aspects of labor and employment law, business and contractual disputes, medical malpractice, and HOA matters. To contact Kara Gansmann, call (910) 777-6055 or email her at [email protected].