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Title VII to Protect LGBTQ Community

It is not every day that the United States Supreme Court issues a decision that dramatically changes the workplace, but it happened this week. In a landmark decision captioned as Bostock v. Clayton County, issued by the Court on June 15th, the Court ruled that federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “sex” will now include protections for individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, transgender, and gender identity.

On its face, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides, in pertinent part, that it is an “unlawful employment practice for an employer” to discriminate against an individual “because of such individual’s race, color, sex, or national origin” (emphasis added).

In the decades since its passing, courts across the country have grappled with the meaning of “sex” within the text of Title VII and the extent of its coverage; however, today, the Court clarified that “sex” includes sexual orientation, transgender, and gender identity, extending employment protections to these protected classes of people.

Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court in which he writes:

In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires [or discriminates against] an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.

This is a very important decision for all employers in America to recognize and follow as it will surely lead to liability and lawsuits for those employers that choose to ignore it. Practically, this decision prohibits an employer from considering an employee’s sexual orientation, transgender, or gender identification when making decisions concerning hiring, discipline, pay rate, job duties, and termination. As a result, employers should take this ruling as an opportunity to update employee handbooks and ensure provisions reflect the newly identified protected classes. As an additional measure, employers should use this decision as an opportunity to conduct re-trainings for all employees to ensure company-wide compliance with anti-discrimination and harassment policies, including the recent protections afforded to the LGBTQ community. Finally, this decision should spark employers to consider purchasing or reviewing their current Employment Practices Liability Insurance (“EPLI”) plan to ensure protection in the event of claims arising out of this decision.

Bryan Meek is a member of Brennan, Manna & Diamond’s Employment & Labor team and is available to assist you with responding to requests for information and/or appealing unfavorable unemployment decisions. Bryan can be reached at 330.253.5586, or bmeek@bmdllc.com

New York, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Delaware Become the latest States to Adopt Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners

While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly created many obstacles and hardships, it also created many opportunities to try doing things differently. This can be seen in the instant rise of remote work opportunities, telehealth visits, and virtual meetings. Many States took the challenges of the pandemic and turned them into an opportunity to adjust the regulations governing licensed professionals, including for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.