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Pregnancy discrimination. Offensive Halloween costumes.
‘Deadly sins’ for women at work.
Those were among 2014’s best-read SHRM Online diversity and inclusion stories. Here’s a look at the
articles that captured readers’ attention during the past year:
Millennials: Is It Misguided and Discriminatory?
Lazy. Unfocused. Demanding. Overly dependent. If an HR
manager caught you labeling all workers older than 50 this way, he or she would
haul you aside for a chat on age discrimination. Yet these terms are frequently
used—in news articles, books, speeches and, yes, workplaces—to characterize the
entire generation known as Millennials.
Pregnancy Discrimination and Workplace Retaliation Remain Problems
Women suffering workplace repercussions while pregnant or
raising children and workers who are retaliated against by their employers for
pursuing discrimination claims are two areas Jenny R. Yang plans to focus on as
the newly named chairwoman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC). Yang is the first Asian-American to lead the national agency that
enforces anti-discrimination laws and champions equal employment opportunities.
in Science, Engineering and Tech Leaving ‘in Droves’
Startling numbers of women working in science,
engineering and technology (SET)—the same industries that grade schools are
urging girls to pursue—are considering leaving those fields because of gender
bias, a new report found.
The report by the Center for Talent Innovation, a global think tank, discovered
that, despite high ambition and passion for their work, women in SET fields in
the U.S., Brazil, China and India are “languishing in the middle rungs of their
organizations and, as a result, are much more likely than men to report that
they plan to leave the industry within the year.”
Sins for Women at Work
Aimee Cohen admits that she tends to buy into the myth
that “everything has to be perfect.” She shares this about herself to
illustrate how she, like so many women, practice bad habits—Cohen likes to call
them “sins”—that can sabotage their careers.
“It’s the Martha Stewart syndrome—you can’t bring
store-bought cookies to your child’s class; they have to be homemade with
homemade sprinkles,” said Cohen, author of Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins
that Sabotage Your Success (Morgan James, 2015). “I fall into
this trap. Writing this book really brought that home. If I was going to wait
for every word in it to be perfect, it would have never made it into your hand.
It’s paralyzing that you can second-guess yourself over and over.”
Ebola, Terrorists and Plane Crashes
Ebola containment suits. ISIS terrorists. Malaysia
Airlines Flight 370 passengers.
Welcome to potentially popular—and problematic—costumes that
could show up at your workplace Halloween party.
Hijabs, Short Skirts and Rastafarian Locks
The EEOC has issued a new publication addressing
workplace responsibilities regarding religious dress and grooming under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In fiscal year (FY) 2013, the EEOC received 3,721 charges alleging religious
discrimination—a number that has more than doubled since FY 1997, when 1,709
charges were filed. In a question-and-answer guide, released March 6,
2014, the commission gave employers practical advice about the law by offering
examples based on EEOC litigation.
The new guidance points out that examples of religious
dress and grooming practices include wearing religious clothing or accessories,
such as a Muslim hijab (headscarf), a Sikh turban or a Christian cross;
observing a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments, such as the
Muslim, Pentecostal Christian or Orthodox Jewish women's practice of not
wearing pants or short skirts; and adhering to shaving or hair-length
observances, such as a Sikh’s uncut hair and beard, Rastafarian dreadlocks or
Jewish peyes (sidelocks).
Pregnancies Now Addressed in EEOC Guidance
After a high-level executive with a 2-year-old son told
her manager she was trying to get pregnant, the manager said a pregnancy could
interfere with her job responsibilities, and two weeks later demoted her to a
position that paid less and had no supervisory duties.
The EEOC went after the employer, concluding that the manager’s
actions and the demotion’s timing amounted to unlawful discrimination.
That’s one of many examples the EEOC provides in its new Pregnancy
Discrimination Guidance, which now addresses discrimination based on
the intention to become pregnant, and not just against women who are currently
All Employees During the Holidays
Atheists, Muslims and other employees who don’t celebrate
Christmas often feel left out amid the workplace holiday parties and
department-decorating contests. How can employers create a spirit of
celebration while remaining sensitive to the needs of all workers?
“It’s fine to have a holiday party,” said employment
attorney Doug Kauffman, a partner with Balch and Bingham LLP in
Birmingham, Ala. “You have to be careful not to water down the season just to
be politically correct or sensitive to those who don’t celebrate.”
Is Millennials’ Top Job Concern, Survey Says
Forget the idea that Millennials would rather have
flexible hours than a good salary. A recent survey by websites Business Insider and News to Live By found
that pay came first when U.S. adults ages 18 to 36 were asked what matters most
to them in a job, followed by meaningful work and a positive relationship with
Flexibility was important, but it trailed in fourth
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