On July 14, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) — the agency responsible for the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws — issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (“the Guidance”). The Guidance primarily discusses the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also addresses additional federal laws that touch upon pregnancy and related conditions, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Tagged: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) — the federal agency responsible for the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws — recently issued guidance on religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), specifically focusing on religious dress and grooming practices. The publication, entitled “Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities,” along with its accompanying Fact Sheet, are designed to assist employers to comply with their legal responsibilities under Title VII.
The EEOC is heralding a recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Equal Opportunity Employment Commission v. Ford Motor Co., a case in which the agency brought suit on behalf of a Ford employee who alleged she was terminated in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. In her charge, the employee alleged Ford violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by not allowing her to telecommute to work. The district court granted Ford’s motion for summary judgment, but, in a 2-to-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that the EEOC had presented evidence sufficient to survive summary judgment that (a) by requesting to telecommute the employee had sought a reasonable accommodation for her disability and (b) the alternative accommodations offered by the company were insufficient. Of concern to employers is the little weight given by the majority opinion to the employer’s business judgment that the employee’s presence in the workplace was an essential function of her job.
New EEOC/FTC Joint Informal Guidance on Employers’ Use of Background Checks into Workers’ Criminal Records
On March 10, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued their first joint guidance on employer use of background checks in hiring or firing decisions. The use of background checks by employers in personnel decisions is becoming a more tricky road to navigate. The EEOC enforces the Federal anti-discrimination laws and the FTC enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), all of which can be implicated in the background check process, particularly when a third party credit reporting agency becomes involved. The EEOC/FTC joint guidance is reduced to two brief, non-technical documents — one for employers and another for job applicants respectively–called “Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know,” and “Background Checks: What Job Applicants and Employees Should Know.” The guidance for employers describes the information and documentation in a background check report that may be used lawfully to make personnel decisions about a job applicant or employee. The document for applicants identifies the employer’s obligations particularly when relying upon a background check to disqualify an applicant or employee.
It is common practice for employers in the process of terminating employees to present separation agreements that offer the employees severance benefits in exchange for a general release of claims. On February 2, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC” or “Commission”) filed suit in federal court in Chicago against the CVS drugstore chain, alleging that, since August 2011, CVS has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1 et seq.) by using separation agreements for their non-store employees that unlawfully interfere with the rights of these employees to file charges of discrimination with the Commission.
In a victory for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, that employees asserting retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) must establish that the adverse employment action at issue would not have occurred “but for” an improper motive on the employer’s part. This “but for” causation standard, as opposed to the more plaintiff-friendly “motivating factor” causation standard used in Title VII discrimination claims, gives employers a better chance at defeating Title VII retaliation claims, particularly at the summary judgment stage.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Vance v. Ball State University, one of the most-anticipated decisions of the Court’s 2012 Term. The Vance case concerns who is considered a “supervisor” for purposes of establishing an employer’s liability for hostile work environment harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, from which the case arose, and other lower courts which had defined “supervisor” to include only those individuals who possess the authority to fire, demote, promote, transfer, discipline or take some other tangible action against a harassment victim. The Court rejected the definition of “supervisor” proposed by the federal government, appearing as amicus curiae, and found in the EEOC’s Enforcement Guidelines, which links “supervisor” status to the ability to exercise direction over the victim’s daily work.
Susan L. Nardone, a Director in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department, will speak at the upcoming NJBIA Employment Seminar on Friday, April 12, 2013, at Forsgate Country Club. Ms. Nardone’s panel, “The EEOC: the New Sheriff in Town?,” will discuss how the EEOC’s actions and enforcement priorities can impact New Jersey businesses.
At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last month, one panel discussion focused on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) recent activity and enforcement priorities. Among the panelists were Corrado Gigante, Director of the Newark Area Office of the EEOC, and Gibbons Directors, Christine Amalfe, Kelly Ann Bird and Susan Nardone.
Employers must use an updated form in order to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), which covers background checks for job applicants and existing employees. The new form is for use effective January 1, 2013. No other provisions of the FCRA have changed. The FCRA Regulates the Use of Consumer Information – The FCRA regulates the use of consumer information. Consumer Reporting Agencies (“CRAs”) compile consumer information into detailed “consumer reports,” which may be used by employers for hiring and retention decisions. Employers also may conduct their own investigative consumer reports, which are covered by the Act as well. The FCRA provides notice and authorization requirements for the use of consumer reports and investigative consumer reports.