T@W Weekly: A New Turn

LGBTQ rights, Juneteenth, I say goodbye to TLNT, and what's next for this newsletter

Editor’s note: Last week was my final week at TLNT. You can read about that more at the end of this newsletter. As for this newsletter, I’ll continue to write and share news about people, work, and tech here. Thanks for sticking with me! -LH

This week, the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ+ workers couldn’t be fired under federal civil rights laws:

The decision was written by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the court. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s four liberal justices. Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Gorsuch wrote. “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 an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

The 6-3 split and the opinion by Justice Gorsuch surprised many court observers, but it certainly couldn’t have come at a better time for employees covered under these new protections. Just last week, Trump took action to reverse Obama-era health care protections for transgender individuals. While this ruling doesn’t affect that action, some say it could lead to the expansion of rights in health care, education, and other areas.

Regardless of one’s views on sexual orientation, people should be protected from non-job-related factors when it comes to adverse employment decisions. Even if that wasn’t codified in law, many HR leaders that I know follow this line of reasoning. People are people, and we shouldn’t treat anyone as a second-class citizen in the eyes of the law or in the eyes of organizational leadership.

Today also marks Juneteenth, a celebration of the ending of slavery in the U.S. This is obviously a very different Juneteenth for the millions protesting across the world for racial justice and fighting for Black lives. As organizations move from talking to action, many have declared the day a company holiday:

After weeks of nationwide demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and racial injustices, companies are taking action to address their own issues with racial inequalities and to better support their black employees.

Last week, Nike, Twitter and a handful of other companies said they would observe June 19, or Juneteenth, as a paid holiday. Since then, a number of others have followed their lead.

What a nation celebrates is a reflection of its people, whether it’s holidays, monuments, or entertainment. Now there seems to be movement in place to make it a national holiday as well. I suspect some will say this is all symbolic, but symbols, like words, mean something.

In short, it was a good week for those moving us a little closer to equality.

Quick hits

  • Employees canceled PTO en masse in response to the pandemic. That trend is starting to reverse. While the normal rate of cancelation is 7-9%, it jumped to nearly 25%. It dropped to 15% in the latest report. [Treehoppr]

  • 57% of people would prefer to continue working from home in the future. [Metova]

  • Top challenges that hiring managers have encountered while working remote include skills training (53%), team introductions (40%), and technology onboard and setup (38%). [Addison Group]

  • Retention is, not surprisingly, way up. The resignation rate is 75% lower compared to last year while hiring has reduced by 40% year-over-year [Visier]

  • During the pandemic, the risk for depression has increased 163% and anxiety is up 47% [Total Brain]

  • Gen Z has actually felt the most disconnected through the pandemic. [Achievers]

  • What measures are going to make going back to the workplace feel safe? Vaccine access clocks in at nearly half. [SafeHome]

  • Ready to welcome people back? The EEOC says you can’t use antibody tests as a required step. [Bloomberg]

  • HR and learning tech company Totara has been sold to PE firm Five V [Press Release]

Goodbye for now

Friday was my last day as editor of TLNT. Like many media businesses, ERE Media has not been immune to the effects of the economic downturn. As we have had to make decisions about consolidating positions and strengthening ERE and TLNT to keep up the good fight, I am transitioning the reigns of TLNT to my colleague and friend Vadim Liberman. Vadim will have quite the task keeping ERE.net, the ERE Digital Conference, and TLNT going, but I know he is up to the challenge.

I will admit that it wasn’t easy to move on like this with work left to do. The month or so of normalcy I had when I started this role in February seems like eons ago. Nobody has been left untouched by this disruption, and I hope to continue the type of work I was starting here at TLNT. Still, I can’t thank David Manaster and the rest of the ERE team for welcoming me back so warmly after nearly seven years away. I’ll miss the daily work with you all.

There’s nothing more important right now than amplifying the clear, just voices in the HR space, and I hope we here at TLNT continue doing this. With global unrest, injustice, and economic turmoil, HR’s role has never been more clear. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” I am looking forward to seeing many of my industry colleagues step up and do what’s right. And, of course, I’ll still be around watching and writing when my voice can make a difference. Thank you for letting me into your daily news reading, email inboxes, and social media feeds.