The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that Confederate flag displays in the workplace constitute evidence of a racially hostile work environment; some courts (but not all) have agreed. In light of these developments and the public debates regarding the Confederate flag and other (potentially) offensive symbols, how should an employer respond?
The EEOC says no. In a recent case, the EEOC filed suit against a paper company in Michigan over this issue. The employee had a seizure at work and was diagnosed with epilepsy. After a period of leave, the employee was released to return to work by his physician.
In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of the United States made an important distinction with respect to employment decisions: what matters is not what an employer knows, but why an employer acts. As esoteric as the distinction may seem in the abstract, the ruling has real-world implications for employers encountering an increasingly-diversified pool of… Continue Reading
On April 16, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued proposed regulations on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to wellness program incentives. The release was followed closely by FAQs and a fact sheet. Other agencies similarly provided guidance, including joint FAQs from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services… Continue Reading
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Stephanie Roth wrote an article on the pressure employers are facing to forgo inquiring about applicants’ criminal convictions during the initial stages of the hiring process. Stephanie notes that the legal landscape is rapidly changing and the requirement of applicants to disclose their criminal conviction records when first submitting an… Continue Reading
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett wrote an article summarizing the SEC’s April 1 announcement that it had settled an enforcement action over an employer’s use of a restrictive confidentiality agreement. Tim made the point that the SEC’s action was consistent with similar efforts by the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment… Continue Reading
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett commented on the Supreme Court decision, Young vs. UPS, questioning whether an employer must provide equal accommodations regarding limited duty to employees who have pregnancy-related limitations and those whose limitations are not pregnancy-related. The Supreme Court referred the case back to the 4th Circuit for review. In light… Continue Reading
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett authored an article outlining steps that companies should consider to provide a safe workplace. In the wake of recent incidents of violence at the workplace, Tim asserts, employers should adopt policies and procedures to foresee issues and be prepared when situations arise. The article discusses some factors contributing… Continue Reading
Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Sarah Krause and Stephanie Roth authored the article “Wellness Programs Face Muddy Regulatory Waters,” that was published by Employee Benefits News on December 23. In the article, the authors discuss the EEOC’s recently filed complaints alleging that employers’ wellness programs violate the ADA. To read the full article, click here…. Continue Reading
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently filed complaints against three employers alleging that the employers’ wellness programs violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) due to the penalties imposed on employees who chose not to complete the wellness programs’ requirements. The ADA prohibits employers from asking employees disability-related questions or requiring employees to… Continue Reading
Can an employer challenge whether the EEOC has done its job in defense of a case brought by the EEOC? The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide that question. The issue is whether courts have authority to review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) properly engaged in efforts to “conciliate” a case prior… Continue Reading
The EEOC has been challenging the legality of releases, attacking certain language that some employers consider standard. The EEOC responds that it is merely acting consistently with its 1997 Enforcement Guidance on what it considers “non-waivable rights.” So, what has drawn the EEOC’s adverse attention?
A federal court recently ruled that an employer’s rigid application of its light-duty policy could be used as evidence of pregnancy discrimination. The employer had a policy of providing light-duty jobs only to employees with on-the-job injuries, which the Court here, and the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in general, have blessed as not showing… Continue Reading
A federal circuit court’s recent ruling provides more evidence of a prevalent employment law trend that has developed in the last few decades. The trend? Candid interactive communication about an employee’s rights and an employer’s responsibilities. Over the past few decades, attentive employers have seen courts favor those who communicate forthrightly concerns or issues and… Continue Reading
A trucking company has a practice of not returning any trucker to a driver position if that trucker has admitted to being an alcoholic, even if the trucker completes a treatment program. The EEOC sued on behalf of a trucker and challenged this practice. In this instance, however, the trucker did not complete a treatment… Continue Reading
The EEOC recently announced two multi-million dollar settlements relating to the targeted employers leave of absence practices. In November, the EEOC announced a $4.5m settlement with Interstate Distributor Company, based on claims that the trucking company did not provide reasonable accommodation to scores of employees who were terminated upon exhausting available leave time. The EEOC… Continue Reading
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has approved its strategic plan for fiscal years 2013 to 2016 to set the agency’s national enforcement priorities. The Plan identifies the following six national priorities: eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring; protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers; addressing emerging and developing employment discrimination issues; enforcing equal pay… Continue Reading
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits a covered employer from requiring an employee to undergo a “medical examination,” unless the examination is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that an employer’s demand that an employee seek psychological counseling as a condition of continued… Continue Reading
The EEOC recently issued guidance on how an employer’s stereotypical responses to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking could run afoul of the discrimination laws. The guidance, here, gives some examples which, to the savvy employer, may appear obvious examples of inappropriate (and unlawful) stereotyping. However, the guidance is worth the read. Why?… Continue Reading
Some employers use last chance agreements (“LCA”), particularly in union settings, to allow hourly employees “one last chance” to improve performance. In return, the employee waives the right to use the union’s grievance and arbitration process if later termination is due to continued failure to improve performance or due to another policy violation. Employers will… Continue Reading
On April 25, the EEOC approved enforcement guidance on an employer’s use of criminal background checks in making hiring decisions. By a 4-1 vote, the EEOC clarified that a criminal background check is not unlawful. BUT, the Commission explained its view that the use of criminal histories can be discriminatory in “impact” on minorities and… Continue Reading
The EEOC recently ruled that Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination “because of . . . sex” now includes protection for any transgender individual. With this ruling, the EEOC expressly overturns earlier EEOC decisions to the contrary dating back to 1984, 1994 and 1996. Employers should be aware that, according to the EEOC’s current interpretation, any… Continue Reading
A Cautionary Reminder for Employers A Texas Federal Court recently ruled that terminating an employee because she wanted to pump breast milk at work is not sex discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on behalf of an individual employee who had mentioned her need to pump breast milk at work and soon thereafter was… Continue Reading
Based on recent developments, employers wonder how much leave is really required under the ADA. It seems that employers with even generous policies and practices have run afoul of the EEOC either in individualized cases, or, worse yet, in class claims. Most recently, Verizon Communications Inc. settled for a record $20 million payout based on… Continue Reading