Workplace Discrimination: Latest Need-to-Know from JD Supra

We welcome one of our newest JD Supra contributors — the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — with a roundup of recent updates on workplace discrimination and related legal issues. For your reference:

ATK to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Race Discrimination Case (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission):

“Alliant Techsystems, Inc. (ATK), a Minnesota-based company that is one of the nation’s largest aerospace and defense manufacturers, will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.” Read on>>

Governor Brown Signs Bills Adding Protection for Religious Practices (Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard):

“The Workplace Religious Freedom Act, AB 1964, amends the Government Code and will protect workers who wear turbans, hijabs, and yarmulkes. SB 1540, which adds a new section to the Education Code, will make way for the addition of information regarding additional ethnic groups to the school curriculum.” Read on>>

Obama’s Mark on Employment Law – What do Employers Have to Look “Forward” To in the Next Four Years? (Akerman Senterfitt):

“Gender inequality was an issue in Obama’s first term and will surely remain a priority in this term. In January 2009, Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which effectively extends the time period in which employees can file a gender based wage discrimination lawsuit – the 180-day statute of limitations for filing a claim resets with each new paycheck affected by the alleged discriminatory action (as opposed to the statute of limitations beginning on the date the employer makes the initial discriminatory wage decision).” Read on>>

EEOC’S Recent Report Highlights Importance of Combating Workplace Discrimination (XpertHR):

“Judging from their recently released Performance and Accountability Report for the Fiscal Year 2012, the EEOC’s message for employers could not be any clearer. It is of critical importance for employers to maintain a workplace free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and provide equal employment opportunities for employees regardless of race, sex, religion, national origin etc.” Read on>>

EEOC Releases Strategic Enforcement Plan (McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC):

“Employers should take note of the target areas, which highlight the areas on which the Agency will be focusing in the coming years – and areas on which employers should be focusing now. Taking time to review company policies, procedures and training in these target areas now may help avoid costly and time-consuming claims in the future.” Read on>>

Top 12 Immigration Mistakes Employers Made In 2012 (Fisher & Phillips LLP):

“USDOJ reached an agreement with a manufacturer of semiconductor structures and advanced solar cells based in Illinois to resolve allegations that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, when it placed six online job postings that explicitly stated citizenship status preferences or requirements that excluded certain work-authorized non-citizens from consideration. The company will pay $12,000 in civil penalties.” Read on>>

Sixth Circuit Gets it Wrong on Title VII Pattern or Practice Claims (BakerHostetler):

“The ‘frappe’ button on a blender is useful for all kinds of recipes when you want to mix things up, but it, until now, has not been considered a viable rule of statutory construction. We’ve written before (previous post) about Title VII’s structure and, to a degree, its legislative history. The statute provides a number of tools to address different types of discrimination, and Congress very specifically spelled out what type of claim could be brought and under what circumstances. These legislative decisions were also bound up on Congress’s view that the EEOC was to work first by informal efforts at conciliation and that different means of proof called for different handling and remedial schemes.” Read on>>

Avoiding Racial Discrimination Claims in the Workplace (Peter T. Mavrick, P.A.):

“Develop a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of discrimination and put the policy in writing for employees to review. Give employees a copy of the policy and have them sign a statement acknowledging that they read and understood all of its terms.” Read on>>

Texas State Agencies to Pay $175,000 to Settle EEOC and DOJ Wage Discrimination Suits (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission):

“Two Texas state agencies will pay $175,000 to settle sex discrimination lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, the federal entities announced today. The EEOC and DOJ had charged the state agencies with responsibility for gender-based pay discrimination at another, now-defunct, state agency.” Read on>>

Mandatory Follow-Up Alcohol Testing Violates Rights of Alcoholic Employees, NJ Appeals Court Concludes (Littler):

“A workplace policy requiring all employees who self-identify as in need of substance abuse treatment to submit to random alcohol testing following their return to work constitutes disability discrimination on its face, according to a recent published decision of the New Jersey Appellate Division.” Read on>>

EEOC Releases Performance and Accountability Report Under New Strategic Plan (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission):

“The EEOC also made strides in its federal sector programs where it provides administrative judges to hear employee complaints of discrimination upon request, and also adjudicates appeals from final agency decisions. In fiscal year 2012, the EEOC secured more than $61.9 million in relief for parties who requested hearings in the federal sector. There were a total of 7,728 requests for hearings received and the Commission’s hearings program resolved a total of 7,538 complaints.” Read on>>

Protecting the Homeless in the Workplace (XpertHR):

“While most states and cities do not specifically prohibit employment discrimination against the homeless in particular, employers should be aware that such discrimination is widespread. Further, employers should exercise extreme caution if discriminating against individuals based on housing status as individuals in protected classes such as those with disabilities, racial minorities or veterans may be adversely affected.” Read on>>

Employer’s Duty to Reasonably Accommodate the Disabled Includes Transfers for Reasons Other than Performance of Essential Job Functions (Sherman & Howard L.L.C.):

“A cardinal rule of disability discrimination law has been that an employer must make reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee, so that the individual can perform the essential functions of his or her job, but not for the individual’s personal convenience or benefit. Another cardinal rule in the Tenth Circuit is that, if a disabled employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job, the employee is entitled to transfer into any vacant position for which he or she satisfies the minimum qualifications.” Read on>>

EEOC Issues Guidance on Employer Response to Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking (Foley & Lardner LLP):

“[T]he EEOC recently published a fact sheet indicating that, although federal discrimination laws do not explicitly protect applicants or employees who have been victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, an employer that makes employment decisions based on such considerations may run afoul of Title VII or the ADA. Many states also have laws that protect, and allow leave, for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.” Read on>>

(Also see updates on this guidance from Ballard Spahr, Franczek Radelet, Mintz Levin, Warner Norcross & Judd, and XpertHR)

Fighting Back Against Pregnancy Discrimination Claims (Peter T. Mavrick, P.A.):

“Pregnancy discrimination law has become an ever-expanding area of practice for labor and employment attorneys across the U.S. Alarmingly, between 1992 and 2003, pregnancy discrimination claims increased by nearly 40%. This is mainly because many employers are unfamiliar with the myriad of anti-pregnancy discrimination and leave laws that protect women under many state and federal statutes.” Read on>>

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