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Posts Tagged ‘Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’

As #MeToo Movement Takes Off, EEOC Sexual Harassment Claims Jump

Posted on: October 11th, 2018

By: Barry Brownstein

Since October 2017, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke and the #MeToo movement took off, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed 50 percent more sexual harassment lawsuits than it did the previous year and has seen a spike in the number of sexual harassment claims it has received. The EEOC filed 66 harassment lawsuits in fiscal 2018 of which 41 contained allegations of sexual harassment.  In addition, the EEOC recovered about $70 million for sexual harassment victims in fiscal 2018, compared with approximately $47 million it recovered in fiscal 2017.

According to the agency’s data, besides its own stepped up enforcement efforts, workers have also increasingly turned to the EEOC over the past year to report allegations of sexual harassment.  The number of charges filed by individuals alleging they were victims of workplace sexual harassment increased by 12 percent in fiscal 2018 from the prior year. The EEOC fielded 6,696 sexual harassment charges in fiscal 2017. A 12 percent increase of that figure indicates the agency fielded about 7,500 sexual harassment charges in the most recent fiscal year. That increase is the first time this decade the number of sexual harassment charges received by the EEOC has gone up from one fiscal year to the next.

Acting EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic has ardently communicated the message that the EEOC has continued to lead the way to achieve the goal of reducing the level of harassment and promoting harassment-free workplaces. Consistent with that theme, the EEOC has also issued a report highlighting the various measures it took over the past 12 months to fight all forms of workplace harassment.  Such efforts include more than 1,000 outreach events, the development of “respectful workplaces” training seminars, and the creation of an internal “harassment prevention action team” to coordinate the agency’s anti-harassment efforts.

With sexual harassment claims soaring, employers should review their current training program, update it so it is consistent with the EEOC’s “respectful workplaces” training, and ensure all employees are provided with such training.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Barry Brownstein at [email protected].

EEOC Lawsuit for Disability and Genetic Information Discrimination is Cautionary Tale for Employers

Posted on: September 28th, 2017

By: Paul H. Derrick

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief against one of the nation’s largest retailers for withdrawing job offers to applicants whose post-offer medical examinations revealed they had disabilities. The lawsuit also alleges that the post-offer medical examinations unlawfully solicited family medical history from those job applicants.

In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleges that an applicant received a job offer contingent on successfully completing the company’s post-offer medical examination. When the employee revealed during the examination that he suffered from monocular vision, medical personnel informed him that the company required applicants have corrected 20/50 vision or better in both eyes. Despite successfully having performed similar work in the past, the employee’s job offer was rescinded.

The EEOC also claims that the company screened out people with high blood pressure and a variety of other conditions, even though the impairments would not prevent the individuals from performing the jobs they had already been offered. During the post-offer medical examinations, applicants were asked to provide detailed information about their family medical history, including answering questions about cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, employers should see it as a reminder that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the use of selection criteria or qualification standards that screen out individuals with disabilities unless those standards are job-related or consistent with business necessity. Post-offer medical examinations are not automatically unlawful, but they cannot be used to weed out individuals with disabilities.

Likewise, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act protects employees or job applicants from discrimination based on genetic information. GINA includes a strict prohibition against soliciting a job applicant or employee’s family medical history.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Paul Derrick at [email protected].

EEOC Sues Over Criminal Background Checks

Posted on: July 12th, 2013

By La’Vonda McLean

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has begun filing lawsuits against employers for their use of criminal background checks.  Last month, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Dollar General and a BMW manufacturing plant in South Carolina over their use of criminal background checks that resulted in employees being fired and job applicants being screened out for employment.

The two lawsuits are the first since the agency issued its revised Enforcement Guidance in April 2012 updating its prior position that using such records as an absolute bar for hiring a potential candidate (or making any other employment decision) could limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and, thus violate Title VII.

In the suit against BMW, the EEOC alleges that BMW disproportionately screened out African Americans from jobs, and that the policy is not job related and consistent with business necessity.  Since 1994, BMW has had a criminal conviction policy that denies facility access to BMW employees and employees of contractors with certain criminal convictions.  BMW’s policy has no time limit with regard to convictions.  The commission claims BMW’s policy is a blanket exclusion without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes, the ages of the convictions, or the nature of the claimants’ respective positions.
In the Dollar General case, the Chicago office of the EEOC filed a nationwide lawsuit based on discrimination charges filed by two rejected African-American applicants.  The EEOC alleges that one of the applicants was given a conditional employment offer even though she disclosed a six-year-old conviction for possession of marijuana.  However, the commission claims her job offer was revoked because Dollar General’s practice was to disqualify an applicant who had this type of conviction within the past ten years.  According to the EEOC, the other applicant was fired by Dollar General despite the fact that the conviction records check report about her was wrong.  The commission claims that even after she advised Dollar General of the mistake in the report, the company did not reverse its decision to fire her.

The EEOC strongly encourages (although does not require) employers to go through an “individualized assessment” to those applicants screened out by the criminal background check process to determine if the criminal record truly should have an impact on the individual’s employment opportunity.