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Legal Report Resources September 2015

​Insurance. Connecticut's Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's decision to nix insurance coverage for more than $6 million in losses from an incident that exposed 500,000 IBM employees' sensitive information when a cart containing computer tapes fell out of a van near a highway exit ramp.

Discrimination. A non-profit engaged in pregnancy discrimination when it enforced a "no pregnancy in the workplace" policy by firing a pregnant employee, a federal judge ruled. The judge found that United Bible Fellowship Ministries had acted with reckless indifference to the former employee's protected rights and awarded her approximately $75,000. 

Bathrooms. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a memo explaining that employees—including transgender employees—should have access to restrooms in the workplace that correspond to their gender identity. The guidance explains that employees should determine the restroom they find "most appropriate and safest to use," and that they do not need to provide documentation to validate their gender identity.​ 

Trafficking. President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that establishes funds, amends existing law, and creates programs to combat human trafficking in the United States. The law (P.L. 114-22) expands the definition of "child abuse" under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography. It also creates the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund, which will award grants to states and localities to combat trafficking, provide protection and assistance for victims of trafficking, develop and implement child abuse investigation and prosecution programs, and provide services for victims of child pornography.​ 

Drug testing. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is considering a bill that would revise regulations that require motor carriers to conduct preemployment, reasonable suspicion, random, and post-accident testing of operators for controlled substances or alcohol use. The bill (S. 806) would allow motor carriers to use hair testing as an alternative to urinalysis for detecting the use of controlled substances, but only for preemployment testing and random testing.​ 

Certification. North Carolina Final HB 595 -- SL 2015-49.pdf that allows its Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission to waive some training and probationary certification for current and honorably discharged military police officers who apply for law enforcement positions in the state.​ 

Excessive force. Police officers have some leeway to use their firearms to subdue a mentally disturbed person that is violently threatening them, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. The Court's 6-2 ruling granted some protection to two San Francisco police officers who forced their way into a woman's room at a group home for the mentally ill and shot her several times after she threatened them with a knife.​ 

Discrimination. Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch discriminated against a Muslim job applicant when it failed to hire her because she wore a headscarf, a violation of a company policy that prohibits employees from wearing caps, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. In a main opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that an applicant only has to show that a need for an employer to accommodate her religious belief was a "motivating factor" in its decision to not hire her to show a violation of civil rights law. ​ 

Discrimination. A Chicago-area staffing agency will pay $800,000 to settle two discrimination suits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC charged that the agency assigned female employees to a known hostile work environment, retaliated against two female employees that reported their supervisor for making sexual advances toward them, categorized positions as "men's work" or "women's work" and assigned employees accordingly, asked impermissible preemployment medical questions that violated the ADA, and failed or refused to assign employees to certain jobs because of their race.​