Arkansas Civil Rights laws & HR compliance analysis

Arkansas Civil Rights: What you need to know

The Arkansas Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin (including ancestry), gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), or sensory, mental, or physical disability (AR Stat. Sec. 16-123-101 et seq.). The Act applies to employers with nine or more employees.
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Retaliation. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an individual for opposing an unlawful discriminatory practice; making a charge; or testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing concerning practices prohibited by the Act.
Individual liability. The Act was amended in 2017 to limit liability for employment discrimination to employers only (AR Stat. Sec. 16-123-107).
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a series of adverse actions against an employee who has engaged in protected activity can provide sufficient evidence of unlawful retaliation, despite a 6-month gap between the protected activity and the employee's layoff (Heaton v. Weitz, 534 F.3d 882 (8th Cir. 2008)). In this case, the employee complained about a coworker's racial slur. Following an investigation, the employer fired the offending employee. Subsequently, the employee who complained was subjected to a series of adverse actions that included a threatened firing, disciplinary action that was inconsistent with the employer's past practices, and a reduction in the employee's work crew, which increased his stress and workload. In affirming the judgment for the employee, the court concluded that the pattern of escalating adverse actions against the employee provided sufficient support for the jury's award of compensatory and punitive damages.

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