Minorities, Women Taking More Senior Level Jobs, But Job Segregation Persists, EEOC Says

It’s a good news, bad news situation when it comes to how minorities and women are faring in the workplace, according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report released today.

There are five to seven times as many African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans in senior level jobs in the economy than 50 years ago, said the report American Experiences versus American Expectations, an update to a 1977 report.

That’s the good news. But the bad news is that women and minorities remain concentrated, or segregated, in lower paying positions. For example, in 2013:

  • Hispanics composed 20.5 percent of Service Workers and 29.2 percent of Laborers, yet they were only 5.7 percent of Professionals and 7.4 percent of Officials and Managers.
  • African-Americans composed 23.3 percent of Service Workers and 18.7 percent of Laborers, yet they were only 7.6 percent of Professionals and 6.8 percent of Officials and Managers.

So this is progress of a sort but there’s still a ways to go until women and persons of color fill those positions occupied by primarily by men and whites.

The new report, an update to EEOC’s groundbreaking 1977 report Black Experiences Versus Black Expectations, examines changes in participation in nine job categories for African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and women between 1966, the first year for which EEOC collected data, and 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. The report draws on data from EEOC’s EEO-1 survey, based on reports filed by employers with 100 or more employees.

Here’s the full report.

 

EEOC Gets Injunction Against Firing of Bakery Employee Who Complained of Harassment

Here’s a cautionary tale if you are thinking about firing an employee who has filed employment discrimination charges against you.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on July 27 that it had obtained a court order prohibiting Peters’ Bakery, a family-owned business in East San Jose, from terminating a sales clerk whose allegations of ethnic and racial harassment and retaliation are the basis for a federal lawsuit.

It’s quite a tangled situation. According to the EEOC, owner Charles “Chuck” Peters harassed sales clerk Marcela Ramirez with repeated derogatory jokes and comments, such as “Mexicans would rather lie than tell the truth,” and “I never trusted your kind of people,” and ultimately discharged her because of her national origin.

The lawsuit further alleged that after Ramirez filed charges with the EEOC, her employer retaliated by filing a defamation lawsuit against her (dismissed May 2012), by delaying the reinstatement Ramirez won through a union arbitration in 2012, and by circulating her charge to her co-workers and writing her up.

On June 30, 2015, Peters’ Bakery again tried to discharge Ramirez effective July 3, but the EEOC obtained a temporary order on July 2 to block the termination pending a hearing on the matter. On July 17, the Court enjoined Ramirez’s termination until the case is determined on the merits, or the court orders otherwise. In a written order issued July 22, the court observed that “permitting Ms. Ramirez to be terminated under such circumstances may well have a chilling effect on other employees who might wish to file charges with the EEOC, and thus could interfere with the EEOC’s mission.”

Here’s more about the case.

 

Downhill Run: Vail Resort Condo Sued for Sexual Harassment of Mexican Female Employees

About the worst thing an employer can do when alerted to possible sexual harassment in the workforce is not take the allegations seriously. That’s a sure-fire ticket to liability under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Apparently that’s what happened at Vail Run Resort Community Association, Inc., a condominium complex in Vail, Colo. In a just-filed lawsuit against the complex and its management company Global Hospitality Resorts, Inc., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that management did nothing in response to alleged sexual harassment by a male housekeeper of female Mexican employees, including attempted rape.

According to EEOC’s suit, Omar Quezada, the housekeeping manager, repeatedly spoke about sex, propositioned female employees, showed them graphic pictures on his phone, and groped and physically assaulted his victims, including attempted rape. Quezada targeted Mexican immigrants who were particularly vulnerable, threatening them with job loss and deportation if they refused his advances, complained about him, or went to the police.

Workers who complained to management were met with anger and indifference, EEOC said. EEOC said the companies never undertook an internal investigation after the complaints, made no effort to reduce Quezada’s supervisorial powers, and did not discipline Quezada. Two victims were finally forced to go to the police for help, and both of these women were later fired. In 2013, an Eagle County jury found Quezada was guilty of unlawful sexual contact and felony extortion, and Quezada pled guilty to additional similar charges after the jury verdict.

So to court the defendants go, accused of sexual harassment, national origin discrimination, and retaliation under Title VII.

Read more about the lawsuit.

 

Rally Today at White House for ‘Ban-the-Box'; Supporters Want Exec Order on Criminal Queries

A planned rally today in front of the White House will urge President Obama to issue an executive order to ban federal agencies and contractors from requiring job applicants to answer whether they have ever been convicted of a crime.

Supporters say that checking this box on the job applications disqualifies many released prisoners (700,000 a year by some counts) from getting a job and reentering society as productive members.

Eighteen states, 100 counties, and major employers Starbucks, Walmart, Koch Industries, and Target already have banned the box, rally organizers say.

Rally organizers hope to build off of that momentum and put pressure on President Obama  to issue an executive order and presidential memo that will “ban the box” and implement fair hiring practices for jobs with federal employers and federal contractors.

Some 200 national organizations and 70 members of Congress also support “ban the box” laws, organizers said.

For more on the ban-the-box campaign, go here.

The fly in the ointment today could be thunderstorms that are forecast for most of the day in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Exam Kept Job Opportunities From African Emigres, EEOC Alleges in Title VII Lawsuit

It appears that a Colorado employer set up its African immigrant employees to fail, and that has landed it opposite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in federal court.

The EEOC announced July 27 that it has sued New Mercer Commons Assisted Living Facility and Columbine Health Systems for discriminating against “its small minority African workforce,” by among other things implementing a new employment exam that disparately affected their continuing employment opportunities.

In addition, the EEOC charged,  white supervisor was fired in retaliation after she refused to participate in discriminatory practices against African employees.

The commission’s complaint singled out the treatment of an Ethiopian émigré who worked at New Mercer Commons for nine years as a personal care assistant before she was fired. The key language from EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit:

“After a change in management at the facility, her work conditions rapidly deteriorated. She was disciplined, her performance critiqued, her annual merit-based raise withheld for the first time, and management made hostile comments about her national origin and accent. On the day she was discharged, three other employees from Sudan were also fired. All four employees were told that they were being fired because they had not received passing scores on the newly implemented written exam.”

In the EEOC’s view, the defendants failed to validate the examination so that it accurately measures job-related functions. Rather, the examination tended to screen out minority candidates capable of performing the job.

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit.

 

 

In Latest ADA Suit, EEOC Accuses Employer of Firing Employee Because of Cancer Treatments

As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, another employer finds itself in the legal crosshairs due to its alleged cavalier treatment of an employee diagnosed with cancer.

IDEX Corporation, a manufacturer and supplier of fluidics systems with locations natigal onwide, including multiple posts in Florida, now is in the legal hotseat, accused by the EEOC of firing a regional manager because he had cancer.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit filed July 22r, Gregorio Reyes successfully performed his regional manager position at IDEX Corporation, including during the six months in 2011 when he underwent chemotherapy to treat the cancer with which he was diagnosed the year before. During the period of his treatment, however, Reyes’s supervisors repeatedly asked invasive questions about his illness and questioned his ability to perform job tasks. On Dec. 8, 2011, IDEX fired Reyes because of his disability, EEOC says.

“A longtime employee who continues to successfully perform his or her job responsibilities should not be fired because he has been diagnosed with a medical condition such as cancer. The ADA prohibits such conduct, and EEOC takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the law,” said Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for EEOC’s Miami Office.

Read more about the lawsuit.

Manufacturer on Hook for $62K in Settlement of ADA Lawsuit Over Exercise of Bumping Rights

A senior employee’s right to bump a junior employee to avoid losing his or her job during a layoff is a much-coveted provision of many collective bargaining agreements. So when an employer allegedly refuses to allow bumping for discriminatory reasons, it’s sure to get the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission announced last Thursday, July 23, that  Building Materials Manufacturing Corporation, a roofing materials manufacturer headquartered in Wayne, N.J., will pay $62,500 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit arising from its alleged refusal to allow a senior employee to exercise bumping rights–because he had a disability or record of disability.

According to the lawsuit, the employer’s contract with the United Steelworkers Union included a provision that allowed senior employees to remain employed by “bumping” less senior employees in any layoff situation. Bumping refers to a senior employee removing a less senior employee from a position and assuming the position for himself.  However, Irvin Carter, who had lost his right hand in an accident at the facility nine years earlier, was denied the right to bump junior employees when the company performed a reduction in force in 2012.

According to the EEOC, the reason was Carter’s disability and/or his record of disability. The lawsuit alleges that GAF refused to permit Carter to bump into other positions based on an 11-pound lifting restriction contained in his nine-year-old medical evaluation. The EEOC said that at the time of the layoff, Carter’s lifting restriction had been increased to 90 pounds, and he would have been able to perform the jobs which only had a 50-pound lifting requirement.

Read more about the lawsuit and settlement here.

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