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Evaluating, Settling and Trying Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Cases in the #MeToo Era
Pennsylvania Bar Institute
April 24, 2019 | Kristine Grady Derewicz
Since the first civil rights laws were passed in the 1960s, Littler has counseled employers on complying with equal employment opportunity laws and defended employers in discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuits and regulatory investigations. To this day, Littler’s exclusive focus on employment law permits us to have a select group of attorneys who focus their practice on federal and state equal employment opportunity laws and the nuanced issues that arise under them. In recent years, based on the increased focus on systemic and class-type claims and litigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Littler also has stayed on the cutting edge in monitoring such developments and assisting clients in the defense of such claims at both the administrative level and in litigation.
Based on the increased stakes in defense of discrimination-related claims, employers must be more vigilant and proactive than ever when it comes to their employment decisions. Littler’s Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity Practice Group has significant experience in assisting employers in their compliance activities as well as representing employers in handling individual and class-type investigations and related lawsuits involving all types of discrimination cases, including age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and national origin, along with issues involving disability and reasonable accommodations, equal pay, harassment and retaliation. Additionally, many of the attorneys in Littler’s Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity Practice Group regularly counsel clients in legal questions involved in the formulation and implementation of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, particularly when such initiatives can be perceived to involve questions of equal employment opportunity law. Similarly, attorneys in the practice group have ample experience in defending its clients in court litigation when discrimination is alleged in connection with clients’ diversity & inclusion initiatives.
Whether at the administrative stage or in litigation, our representation includes clients across a broad spectrum of industries and organizations, and Littler attorneys are at the forefront of new and innovative defenses in each of the key protected categories. Our attorneys’ proficiency in handling civil cases brought by the EEOC and other state agencies enables us to develop effective approaches to defending against any EEOC litigation, whether it involves claims brought on behalf of individual claimants or class-wide allegations involving alleged “pattern or practice” claims and other alleged class-based discriminatory conduct.
In addition, our firm recognizes the value of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Littler’s commitment to diversity and inclusion starts at the top and is emphasized at every level of our firm. Diversity and inclusion are core values of Littler and part of our firm’s DNA. We recognize that diversity encompasses an infinite range of individual characteristics and experiences, including gender, age, race, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, political affiliation, marital status, disability status, generational status, geographic background, and family relationships. The goal of our firm is to create a work environment where the unique attributes, perspectives, backgrounds, skills and abilities of each individual are valued, celebrated and appropriately leveraged.
In light of this core value Littler’s EEO & Diversity Practice Group members are well- situated to assist our clients achieve their goals in the diversity and inclusion area. Thus, our EEO & Diversity Practice Group includes attorneys with extensive experience assisting clients with their own diversity initiatives, providing diversity training, and ensuring employers remain compliant with the latest discrimination laws and regulations.
Littler values our attorneys’ collective experiences, and the firm attracts and retains preeminent lawyers who are leaders in the field of EEO law. Littler understands any changes or new issues that arise in employment law. We go to great lengths to help ensure that employers are provided focused, proactive counseling as these changes and issues arise. In addition to Littler’s blogs, webinars, timely articles and numerous books, Littler attorneys frequently contribute to external publications and are often guest speakers at national employment conferences and seminars.
Littler practitioners share their knowledge with each other to the mutual benefit of our clients and the firm. Sharing knowledge is a core value of the firm, backed up with advanced knowledge-management technology. The wealth of knowledge at Littler is easily transferred to our clients, whether it be through one-on-one communication to efficiently answer a client’s question or through, timely written updates and client webinars on significant case or regulatory developments. As an example, Littler monitors EEOC developments around the country and each year, for the benefit of its clients, issues Littler’s Annual Report on EEOC Developments that reviews, analyzes and reports on significant regulatory developments, settlements, litigation activities, and significant court opinions involving the EEOC.
At Littler, we approach an employer’s case with the understanding that litigation can be both costly and time consuming, and, therefore, we collaborate with our clients on strategy from the outset.
We know the case law and regulations because we deal with them on a daily basis. We are familiar with the jurists we practice before and often the opposing counsel. The combined depth of knowledge of the law and the understanding of the practices of various jurisdictions allows us to counsel proactively and defend employers efficiently.
Littler has successfully handled cases in state and federal courts throughout the United States, including individual and class actions, as well as systemic and pattern or practice lawsuits filed by the EEOC.
At Littler, our team includes lawyers who have worked for the EEOC and state equal employment agencies, former Congressional staffers who helped draft pertinent EEO-related legislation, and leaders of the EEO Committee of the ABA Labor and Employment Section, who have worked in tandem with various Chairs, Commissioners and senior leadership of the EEOC. These attorneys’ prior experience provides Littler with the ability to understand an agency’s perspective during an initial investigation of an EEO charge through trial.
As referenced above, Littler also closely monitors EEOC public hearings, court filings, settlements and court opinions to best advise clients of recent EEOC developments.
Littler attorneys have represented employers in thousands of EEO agency proceedings, and the firm has developed a strong focus on assisting employers with systemic and pattern or practice investigations.
Littler has helped numerous employers at every stage of the process, including assisting with the design and implementation of a broad range of services to fit our clients’ custom needs. These services include the design and delivery of custom educational programs, culture scans, and support for the development and/or restructuring of diversity and inclusion policies, programs and practices.
We have also helped companies broaden their hiring, promotional, and retention practices in a legal and appropriate manner. We work very closely with our clients to keep them apprised of recent court decisions and legal challenges that can sometimes restrict them in achieving their diversity and inclusion objectives.
We have the experience that comes from years of working with employers that value a workforce of varied backgrounds, viewpoints and cultures – a business model rendered more complex by new legislation and court decisions. What’s more is that we have the knowledge required to defend such initiatives when challenged in court.
A signature of Littler’s practice is our ability to help employers comply with equal employment opportunity laws and take precautionary measures to deter litigation. We frequently assist employers in developing legally compliant policies, counsel employers on employment-related decisions, review employment policies, provide audit services to employers to proactively assess and correct problematic practices, and perform disparate impact analyses to ensure that employment decisions do not adversely affect a protected group.
Littler also offers extensive and innovative training programs for employers as part of our overall efforts to work closely with our clients to ensure they are meeting their compliance obligations and/or their diversity and inclusion objectives. See the Littler Learning Group and Littler's Diversity & Inclusion Consulting for more information.
We value each of our clients. Littler’s clients include small privately held companies, nonprofit groups and companies with both national and global operations.
Pennsylvania Bar Institute
April 24, 2019 | Kristine Grady Derewicz