Employer, EEOC Settle Transgender Bias Case

Notch another settlement for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a lawsuit alleging discrimination against transgender employees.

EEOC announced today that Ellucian, a  higher education technology services company with operations in Minnesota, has agreed to pay $140,000 to settle a Title VII transgender bias lawsuit.

The EEOC said its investigation by revealed that Ellucian barred the employee from access to her workplace on a college campus the day after she informed her co-workers she planned to transition from  male to female.

The college asked Ellucian, which was performing contracted informational technology work for the college, to remove the employee from their campus, and Ellucian complied with the college’s request.

Seems to me that makes the college just as liable for the alleged violation as Ellucian.

Since 2012, it’s been the EEOC’s view that employment discrimination against employees because they are transgender is sex discrimination which violates Title VII.

Here’s EEOC’s announcement of the settlement.

Belly Up to the Bar: Saloon Fires Pregnant Waitress and Forks Over $66K to the EEOC

Maybe a pregnant woman doesn’t belong behind a bar serving alcoholic drinks to customers–but that’s for her to decide, not for the bar owner. That’s why Congress outlaws pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Tell that to the Moonshine Whiskey Bar in Tempe, Arizona, whose owner, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, fired pregnant bartender Michelle Viscusi, because, he is reported to have said on an audiotape recording, “There’s going to be a whole number of people that I would be offending by allowing a pregnant person to be behind the bar. They might look at it as the owner’s a f—ing idiot they’re letting a girl that’s pregnant that could get injured behind the bar bartending right now. How irresponsible are those guys.”

EEOC said that the bar, a limited liability company, agreed to pay $66,000 and furnish other relief to settle the lawsuit.

Pregnancy discrimination is more prevalent than you may think. EEOC Phoenix Acting District Director Elizabeth Cadle pointed out that EEOC received 3,543 charges of pregnancy discrimination in fiscal year 2015 nationwide, which constituted about 4 percent of the 89,385 charges the agency received that year.

Read more about the lawsuit and settlement here.

EEOC: Staffing Company Violated ADA By Requiring Applicants to Answer Medical Queries

KB Staffing LLC, a staffing company serving central Florida, needs to bone up on what is allowed and not allowed under the Americans With Disabilities Act regarding pre-offer health questionnaires.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in an ADA lawsuit that the company from 2011 to 2013 asked all applicants to complete a paper application package with a detailed medical questionnaire before the company offered the applicant a position or placement. And although KB Staffing represented that it changed its process in 2013, it still required applicants to complete a medical questionnaire prior to any offer of employment in some instances after that date, the EEOC charged.

The medical questionnaires asked for sensitive health information, and included numerous disability-related questions.

“Congress recognized that prohibiting pre-offer medical inquiries was necessary to prevent applicants from being subjected to harmful and unfounded stereotypes on the basis of an actual or perceived disability,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. “As staffing agencies now play a large role in our nation’s workforce, eliminating any discrimination in their screening practices is increasingly important to ensuring that workers with disabilities have equal access to work opportunities.”

Read more about the lawsuit here.

DOL Launches Redesigned Web Site to Help Returning Military Veterans Find Employment

The U.S. Department of Labor is making a renewed push to help link up returning veterans and employers, announcing today the launching of veterans.gov, a 1-stop online resource for veterans’ employment services.

“The website brings together job banks, state employment offices, American Job Centers, opportunities in top-trending industry sectors, and employer assistance in a single online location,” the DOL announcement said.

For job seekers, the site offers:

  • One-on-one assistance in the nearly 2,500 American Job Centers in communities nationwide.
  • Veterans’ Job Bank/National Labor Exchange online job listings.
  • Searchable career paths by industry, by similarity to military careers, or by keyword.
  • Links to approved local training programs, colleges and universities.
  • Resources from federal partners to connect with industry-specific career programs in sectors including agriculture, transportation, energy/utilities, homeland security and other federal employment.
  • Tools to learn how to become an entrepreneur and to start a business.
  • Connection to the Veterans Employment Center portal.

For employers, the site provides:

  • Ability to connect with the VETS’ regional employer outreach specialists to access local resources for meeting your unique hiring needs.
  • Ability to upload available openings and position descriptions to the Veterans’ Job Bank/National Labor Exchange database.
  • Access to “America’s Heroes at Work,” a free toolkit to assist employers seeking to hire veteraAbility to make a commitment to hire veterans on the Veterans Employment Center portal.

Employer Pays $30K to Settle Retaliation Claim

Firing an employee shortly after he or she complaints about discrimination is a risky business.

Just ask Morse Moving & Storage, a company based in Romulus, Michigan.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  announced on Friday that the residential and corporate moving provider will pay $30,000 to settle a retaliation claim filed on behalf of Latasha Black.

Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

Milking It: EEOC Sues Manufacturer for Repeatedly Not Promoting Qualified Woman

A milk manufacturer in Michigan is about to get a taste of what it looks like to face the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a sex discrimination case.

The EEOC filed suit today under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act against Country Fresh, a Grand Rapids-based milk and juice manufacturer, alleging it discriminated against a female employee by repeatedly denying her a promotion to various supervisor jobs.  The employee, who worked at the company’s Livonia, Mich., plant, worked in various production jobs throughout the plant, had decades of experience, and was repeatedly bypassed for promotions while male employees were selected for the jobs she sought, EEOC said.

“Failing to promote a qualified female employee because of her sex violates federal law and is completely unacceptable,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Nedra Campbell.

Read more about the lawsuit.

EEOC: Arbitrary Deadline to Request Exemption From Flu Vaccine Requirement Violates Title VII

A hospital’s setting of an arbitrary deadline for employees to request a religious exemption from a flu vaccination requirement has gotten it in trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC announced today that it is suing Mission Hospital, Inc., a North Carolina corporation based in Asheville, claiming it violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it failed to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and fired them because of their religions.

According to EEOC’s complaint, Mission Hospital requires employees to receive a flu vaccination annually by no later than December. An employee may request an exemption to the vaccination requirement based on religious beliefs. However, the hospital requires that the request be made by Sept. 1, or it is subject to being denied.

EEOC said that employees Christine Bolella, Melody Mitchell, Titus Robinson, and other employees requested religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement, because of their various sincerely held religious beliefs, after the deadline, and were denied. Mission Hospital subsequently fired them. At least one employee was also suspended without pay prior to her termination, the EEOC charged.

“An arbitrary deadline does not protect an employer from its obligation to provide a religious accommodation,” said  Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.  An employer must consider, at the time it receives a request for a religious accommodation, whether the request can be granted without undue burden. This case demonstrates EEOC’s commitment to fighting religious discrimination in the workplace.”

Read more about the EEOC’s lawsuit here.

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