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Tips to Understand, Prepare for the CROWN Act
By: Nancy Musick
Have you heard of the CROWN Act? No, it isn’t a popular TV streaming series about Queen Elizabeth II. The CROWN Act is a new antidiscrimination law sweeping the nation, and it could be coming to a legislature near you soon.
What Sparked Movement To Protect Race-Based Hairstyles
The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, or CROWN Act, is part of a national coalition aimed at securing protections for race-based hairstyles in workplaces and public schools. The Act extends current discrimination laws to protect hair texture and protective styles, such as braids, locks, twists, and knots. Under the statute, an employer can’t discriminate against individuals because they have a natural hair tex­ture or choose to wear their hair in braids or dreadlocks.
The CROWN Act grew out of a research study that re­vealed black women are 80 percent more likely to be sent home from work because of their hairstyle and 1.5 times more likely than white women to report they had to change their hairstyle to fit in at the workplace.
Also, some courts have found employees discriminated against because of their hairstyles—even styles pri­marily associated with a certain race—aren’t protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a 2016 case, for example, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded, “Title VII protects persons in covered catego­ries with respect to their      Continue Reading...
EEOC Issues COVID-19 Guidance
By: Nancy Musick

On December 16, the EEOC released new COVID-19 vaccine guidance. As predicted, the new guidance generally allows employers to require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines. But, as the EEOC explained, employers that require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines must make exceptions for disabilities and sincerely held religious beliefs, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

 Here are some highlights from the new EEOC guidance:
  • Employers may ask an employee for proof that he or she received a COVID-19 vaccine. But more probing follow-up questions to an unvaccinated employee “may elicit information about a disability and would be subject to the pertinent ADA standard that they be ‘job-related and consistent with business necessity.’”
  • If an employer requires all employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and an employee is unable to receive one because of a disability, the employer must show that an unvaccinated employee would pose a direct threat of “significant harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.”
  • The following four factors are used to determine whether a direct threat exists: “the duration of the risk; the nature and severity of the potential harm; the likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and the imminence of the potential harm.” The EEOC notes that      Continue Reading...
Fraudsters Target Kansas Unemployment Benefits
By: Nancy Musick

Before 2020, the record for most fraudulent unemployment claims filed in a year in Kansas was seven. That record has been shattered. This year the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) has already uncovered more than 45,000 fraudulent unemployment claims. And we still have three months to go!

The scheme primarily targeted expanded unemployment programs created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act expanded unemployment benefits to people traditionally unable to qualify, such as the self-employed and independent contractors. The fraudulent scheme has caused significant payment delays to Kansas families.

Fraudsters used victims’ personal information to file for unemployment benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, most victims had their information exposed in a mass data breach. Other victims were victims of prior identity theft. Many victims did not learn of the fraud until the KDOL denied their claims as duplicative. The KDOL also discovered fraudulent claims after employers confronted employees for filing an unemployment claim while still being employed.

Kansas isn’t unique in this regard, as a nationwide investigation uncovered similar attacks in other states. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates fraudsters have filed $8 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims so far this year in the United States.

It is important that employers pay attention to each unemployment claim to curb additional fraud. Employers can report suspected unemployment fraud at www.reportfraud.ks.gov.


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Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
Boyd Byers Image
Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
Jason Lacey Image
Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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