Masked Up: OSHA Touts N95 Respirators in Protecting Users From Coronavirus Exposure

No one should doubt the efficacy of N95 respirators in protecting users from coronavirus exposure, the feds said.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in a news release Monday said it has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on how N95 respirators effectively protect wearers from coronavirus exposure.

OSHA is aware of incorrect claims stating that N95 respirators filter does not capture particles as small as the virus that causes the coronavirus. OSHA’s new FAQ explains why an N95 respirator is effective at protecting users from the virus.

Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage for further information and resources about the coronavirus.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Dell Denied Equal Pay to Female IT Analyst in Acquired Company, EEOC Alleges in New Suit

You’d think in this day and age, it would be a no-brainer to pay women the same pay as men for doing the same work.

But you’d be wrong to conclude that based on this case.

Dell, Inc. violated federal law by paying lesser wages to a female IT analyst than it paid to a male employee performing work that required substantially equal skill, effort and responsi­bil­ity, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed October 15.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Kea Golden was an IT analyst with 24 years of work experi­ence in the technology industry. Dell acquired the company Golden worked for and hired her and a male analyst coworker at the same time. Despite the fact both Golden and the male analyst performed the same tasks, assignments and work, Dell paid Golden $17,510 less than the male analyst.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both of which prohibit discrimination in compensation based on sex. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-03131-L, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks back pay, com­pensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief, including an order barring Dell from engaging in discriminatory treatment in the future.

“Dell failed to properly pay Ms. Golden for her work,” said Joel Clark, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “Dell’s approach to establishing salaries for Ms. Golden and the male employees who worked at the company acquired by Dell resulted in a wage gap between Ms. Golden and one of the male co-workers. The inequity was not corrected, despite Ms. Golden’s com­plaints to the company.”

Suzanne Anderson, supervisory trial attorney for the Dallas District Office added, “Title VII and the Equal Pay Act require the payment of equal wages for work that requires substantially equal skill, effort and responsibilities. In male-dominated technology fields, it is particularly important that emp­loyers establish fair pay for workers hired by application or through acquisition.”

Hear This: $77K Settlement in EEOC Suit Against Employer For Refusal to Interview Deaf Applicant

A deaf job applicant’s need for assistance is not proper grounds for denying an interview.

Conduent Business Services, LLC, a technology-based business services company headquartered in Florham Park, N.J., will pay $77,500 and provide other relief to settle a disability dis­crim­ination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Conduent violated federal anti-discrimination law when it refused to interview and hire a qualified deaf applicant. According to the EEOC’s complaint, the appli­cant applied for a corporate development associate position at Conduent through a recruiting firm.  Conduent expressed an interest in interviewing him, but then eliminated him from consideration after the recruiting firm said he would need an American Sign Language interpreter.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which pro­hibits employers from discriminating based on disability.  The EEOC sued Conduent in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (EEOC v. Conduent Business Services, LLC, Case No. 2:19-cv-18541) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The case was litigated by EEOC Trial Attorney Adela Santos and Supervisory Trial Attorney Nora Curtin.

In addition to the $77,500 payment to the applicant, the consent decree entered by Judge Claire Cecchi requires amendment of the company’s reasonable accommodation policy and training on the ADA. It also prohibits disability discrimination and retaliation.  The EEOC will monitor Conduent’s compliance for the next two years.

“The ADA prohibits limiting the opportunities of qualified job applicants with a disability to compete for employment,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for EEOC’s New York District.  “Employers must provide interpreters and other reasonable accommodations to deaf applicants when they interview for a job.”

Judy Keenan of the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “Removing barriers in the hiring process that discriminate against individuals with disabilities is a national priority for the EEOC.”

Conduent employs about 68,000 people at dozens of locations around the world.

The EEOC’s New York District Office oversees New York, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Offroad: Trucking Co. Pays $165K in Settlement of Retaliation Case by EEOC Over Test Challenge

Label this case, “What could this employer have possibly been thinking”?

Stan Koch & Sons Trucking, Inc., a Minnesota-based transportation company, will pay $165,000 and furnish other relief to settle a retaliation case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Koch refused to rehire a former employee because she had filed an EEOC charge against Koch alleging that a strength test used by the company to screen truck drivers discriminates against women.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul (EEOC v. Stan Koch & Sons Trucking, Inc., Civil Action No. 19-cv-1371) in May 2019, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through the EEOC’s pre-lawsuit conciliation process.

Under the 33-month consent decree settling the suit, agreed to by the parties and entered by the court, Koch will pay $165,000 to the former employee and issue her an apology for how she was treated by the company. The decree further mandates that Koch adopt a more comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policy, train its corporate office employees on Title VII’s protections against discrimination and retaliation, and report to the EEOC all future complaints of Title VII discrimination and retaliation.

“Refusing to hire someone solely because she has filed a charge with the EEOC is as clear a case of retaliation as you are ever going to see,” said Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. “The EEOC will continue to enforce federal laws on behalf of employees who exercise their civil rights by contacting our agency to report workplace discrimination.”

Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, added, “Retaliation has a chilling effect that deters employees from coming forward to assert their rights and interferes with our mission to eradicate discrimination in the workplace. Addressing and remedying this type of conduct in the workplace is a core purpose of the agency.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

OSHA Coronavirus Fines Mount, Topping $1M

At last, employers are feeling the financial sting of coronavirus workplace safety violations.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 85 establishments for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $1,222,156.

The update is from a news release the agency issued on Friday.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

OSHA has already announced citations relating to 62 establishments, which can be found at dol.gov/newsroom. In addition to those establishments, the 23 establishments below have received coronavirus-related citations totaling $309,023 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, 2020. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.

Click here for a list of the 23 establishments referred to above. Many are hospitals or rehab or nursing homes.

Egg On Their Face: Producer Let Male Supervisor Harass Female Employee, EEOC Alleges in Suit

With a criminal supervisor on the loose, this employer turned a blind eye, the feds charged.

Konos, Inc., a Michigan-based egg producer, was sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for subjecting a female employee to sexual harassment and retaliating against her when she complained.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, repeated sexual advances by the male supervisor culminated in sexual assault. The assaults led to a criminal prosecution and conviction of the supervisor. Despite the seriousness of the supervisor’s actions and the employee’s complaints to the company, Konos failed to take appropriate actions to end the harassment. Instead, Konos retaliated against her for complaining by sending her home.

Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual because of sex and from retaliating against employees who object to discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan (EEOC v. Konos, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-00973) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to remedy and prevent future sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.

“Fostering an environment that allows a supervisor to sexually assault a subordinate employee, and then retaliating against the employee for complaining, is a clear violation of federal law,” said Nedra Campbell, trial attorney for the EEOC. “Konos should have immediately undertaken remedial measures to protect this employee and others,” she added.

According to its website, www.vbeggs.com, Konos, Inc. has been an egg producer for over 70 years. The company has hundreds of employees working in Western Michigan.                                                                             

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

Sour Taste: Ohio Restaurant on Hook for $75K in Settlement of EEOC Harassment Case vs. Owner

Another restaurant is in the soup over a male employee’s harassment of a female subordinate.

A Cincinnati-area restaurant group will pay $75,000 to a former employee and implement other relief to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Tuesday.

According to the EEOC lawsuit, the male owner and chef of 3501 Seoul, LLC, SushiNati, LLC, and The Korea House, LLC subjected a female employee to unwelcome and offensive sexual harass­ment, including an offer of money in exchange for sex. The harassment culminated in a sexual assault of the employee and therefore became so intolerable that the employee was compelled to quit, the EEOC said.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. 3501 Seoul, LLC, SushiNati, LLC, The Korea House, LLC, Civil Action No.1:20-cv-00277) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The two-year consent decree settling the suit requires payment of $75,000 to the harassment victim and signif­icant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further harassment. These include a letter of apology from the business owners to the harassment victim; implementation of record-keeping and anti-discrimination policies and procedures; creation of a telephone hotline for employee harassment complaints; and training for all employees, including management and the business owners, on the requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against harassment in the workplace. The companies must also establish robust investigation procedures and report all harassment complaints to the EEOC.

“The EEOC takes claims of sexual harassment very seriously and the agency is dedicated to ensuring that women are protected from unwelcome sexual conduct in the workplace,” said EEOC Indianapolis District Director Michelle Eisele.

The case was litigated by the Louisville Area Office, which is part of the EEOC’s Indianapolis District, with jurisdiction over Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and parts of Ohio.

EEOC Okays Digital Filing of Charges

Now it’s official: The EEOC is accepting charge filing documents using digital communications.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) yesterday issued a final rule that amends its procedural regulations to explicitly provide for digital transmissions of documents and to update no cause determination procedures.  This final rule was posted by the Federal Register for public inspection Wednesday and will be published in the Federal Register today, October 15, 2020.

On February 22, 2019, the EEOC published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register seeking public comment on proposed revisions to the EEOC’s procedural regulations for charges of employment discrimination.  Public comments in response to the NPRM were due on or before April 23, 2019.  On August 19, 2020, the EEOC voted to send the final rule to OMB for review before publication in the Federal Register. 

This final rule makes no changes to the charge filing process, but simply amends portions of the EEOC’s regulations in parts 1601 and 1626 to account for the digital transmission of charge-related documents.  The final rule memorializes changes that have been occurring over the past several years as the EEOC has made significant strides in providing digital services.  Revisions to the EEOC’s procedural regulations do not create a new system of digital transmission of charge-related documents. 

The EEOC also made changes to the language in our letters of determination to more clearly communicate with charging parties and respondents about the EEOC’s decision to close an investigation.

This final rule amends section 1601.18(a) to add language clearly communicating that a dismissal includes notice of the charging party’s statutory right to file a lawsuit.  This final rule also amends section 1601.19(a) to add language clarifying the meaning and import of the EEOC’s issuance of a “no cause” determination, specifically, that such a dismissal does not mean the claims have no merit.

The EEOC also amends sections 1601.18(a) and 1601.19(a) to bring greater efficiencies to charge closures by permitting further delegation.  The EEOC believes further delegation will allow decisions to be made closer to the point of investigation, increase accountability, and not delay decision making.

Retail Bias: Dillard’s to Pay $900K, Reform Promotion Process to End EEOC Race Suit

Let this be a shot-across-the-bow at the nation’s retailers to give minority applicants a fair shot at advancement.

Department store chain Dillard’s, Inc. will pay $900,000, revise its job posting process, and furnish other relief to settle an EEOC lawsuit charging failure to promote African American employees based on race, the federal agency announced last Friday.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Dillard’s, which is headquartered in Little Rock, failed to post supervisory and management positions at its retail locations nationwide and failed to promote African American employees into those positions.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrim­ination on the basis of race. The EEOC filed suit on Sept. 29 (Civil Action No. 4:20-cv-01152) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Central Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process and after EEOC and Dillard’s reached an agreement on the terms of a consent decree after months of negotiations. Following a hearing on Oct. 7, Judge Lee P. Rudofsky entered the consent decree on Oct. 8.

Under the terms of the two-year consent decree settling the suit, Dillard’s will provide $900,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to individuals denied promotions; develop and post written promotion policies for its stores nationwide; post supervisor and manager vacancies; provide anti-discrimination training; and dedicate an email address and telephone number for employees to address complaints based on failure to promote based on race. The company will report any such complaints to the EEOC. Dillard’s will also reach out to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to recruit African American students into its Little Rock Buyer’s Program.         

“We are pleased by the cooperativeness and willingness of Dillard’s to revise its job posting process and hope that this will increase the number of qualified African Americans in management positions,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office. “We also commend Dillard’s for working with the agency to resolve this lawsuit.”

Delner Franklin-Thomas, the EEOC’s Memphis district director, added, “Failing to promote African Americans due to their race contravenes federal law. We believe this settlement establishes processes and procedures at Dillard’s to ensure that qualified Black employees are not excluded from promotional opportunities in the workplace.”

$115K Payment Ends EEOC Suit Against Contractor Over Firing of Black Foreman

Making something a fireable offense for a black employee, but not for a white employee, is an invitation to trouble.

Thompson Construction Group, Inc., a heavy industrial contractor based in Sumter, S.C., will pay $115,000 and provide other relief to settle a race dis­crimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced October 1.

The EEOC had charged that Thompson Construction Group violated federal law when it fired an African American employee because of his race. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee worked as a pipefitter foreman in Semora, N.C., when a white subordinate made abusive and racially derogatory comments to him and engaged in insubordinate behavior. Thompson Construction fired the Black pipefitter foreman following the incident. The EEOC said that Thompson Construction does not discharge Caucasian foremen whose subordinate employees engage in verbal disputes with them or for reasons similar to those it gave for terminating the Black pipefitter foreman. The EEOC asserted that Thompson Construction fired the African American pipefitter foreman because of his race.

This alleged behavior violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from engaging in unlawful employment practices on the basis of race. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Thompson Con­struction Group, Inc., Case No. 1:20-cv-00406) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief for the pipefitter foreman, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that Thompson Construction Group revise and distribute equal employment opportunity and affirmative action policies; provide annual Title VII training;and report regularly to the EEOC about employees discharged from its North Carolina worksites.

“Federal law requires employers to be responsible for preventing and remedying racial discrimin­ation in the workplace,” said Kara Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “We appreciate Thompson Construction Group’s cooperation in reaching an early resolution of this case and its commitment to working toward establishing a discrimination-free workplace.”