DOL Seeking Teen Connection in Online Session

Lest you think the Labor Department cares only about adults, not so.

The U.S. Department of Labor is extending an invitation to teens, parents, educators, employers and other interested stakeholders to join a national online dialogue through April 30 to gather ideas on how the department can connect with teens better.

The department will use the insights received to develop effective ways to enhance its existing efforts to inform teens about avoiding workplace hazards; the types of work they are allowed to do; age restrictions for work hours; employer wage requirements; employment training, including apprenticeships; and workplace discrimination.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the U.S. workforce included 4.7 million teens between the ages of 16 and 19 in 2020. In fiscal year 2020, the department recorded child labor violations in more than 850 investigations by its Wage and Hour Division and estimates a teen between 15 and 19 years old requires emergency room treatment for a workplace injury approximately every five minutes.

Co-hosted by the department’s Office of Disability Employment PolicyOccupational Safety and Health AdministrationWage and Hour DivisionOffice of Compliance Initiatives and Employment and Training Administration, the dialogue is part of ODEP’s ePolicyWorks initiative.

Visit https://teenworkers.ideascale.com to register and participate in the online dialogue.

All Virtual Hearing Will Focus on Covid Impact

Mark you calendar for a week from today for a historic, break-through event.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold its first all virtual Commission hearing on Wednesday, April 28, at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Time) to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers, the difficulties faced by employers in navigating potential employment discrimination issues raised by COVID-19, and future challenges the pandemic may present for employees and employers.

The hearing will be held virtually, as a videoconference, via Zoom for Government and is open to the public, in accordance with the Sunshine Act. The public may observe the livestream or connect to the audio-only dial-in by following the instructions that will be posted on www.eeoc.gov. Closed captioning and ASL services will be available. We anticipate the links and audio-only dial-in information to be posted on Monday, April 26 and no later than 24 hours prior to the hearing.

The Commission will hear testimony from a wide variety of experts on job discrimination and other barriers to employment during the ongoing health and economic crisis and how to help promote compliance with equal employment opportunity laws as employers and workers navigate unprecedented conditions

The Commission agenda is subject to revision.  A recording and transcript of the Commission hearing will be posted on www.eeoc.gov after the hearing. For information about the hearing, please contact Christine Nazer, Acting Director of Communications, at 202-921-3191.

The roster of panelists who will appear at the hearing are here.

EEOC to Hold Legal Update Online May 20

Here’s your chance to get up to speed on the EEO legal landscape–seated at your computer screen.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency tasked with enforcing laws against employment discrimination and harassment, announced Monday that it is hosting a virtual training workshop on May 20.

2021 Legal Update is a breakfast briefing for today’s employers. Carol Miaskoff, acting legal counsel for the EEOC in Washington, D.C., will provide a review of the current EEO legal landscape along with an update on the Commission, including the agency’s guidance on COVID-19, race discrimination and harassment, and the most recent LGBT guidance.

The workshop is geared toward attorneys, mediators, human resource personnel, union officials and equal employment opportunity (EEO) professionals in the private and public sectors, along with other interested parties.

“The events of this past year have had a significant impact on the work that we all do,” said Rosa Viramontes, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District office. “Employers need the most up-to-date legal information regarding COVID-19, race discrimination and harassment, and protections offered to LGBT employees. This virtual breakfast briefing will provide a timely comprehensive legal update. Acting Legal Counsel Carol Miaskoff is a sought-after speaker and her expertise is invaluable for the employer community.”

Further details about the workshop, including the agenda, pricing information and online registration are available at http://bit.ly/EEOTraining2021. Registration information may also be obtained by contacting Outreach & Education Coordinator Nicole St. Germain at (213) 785-3045 / nicole.stgermain@eeoc.gov. The registration fee for the workshop is $95, and it will take place virtually.

OSHA Announces Job Openings for 10 Positions

I don’t usually put a plug in for U.S. agency hiring announcements, but these are not ordinary times.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has 10 jobs available right now on the USA JOBS website. The openings range from Assistant Regional Administrator (Whistleblower Protection) to Safety and Occupational Health Specialist to Program Analyst (Data Analytics).

Don’t wait too long to apply; the clock is ticking. The jobs window closes soon. One job is open until Wednesday of this week, others until April 28; nothing beyond that.

Want to help fight Covid-19 working for another U.S. agency? Check out these openings on USAJOBS.

OSHA Teleconference May 19 on Whistleblowing

Did you know that OSHA is responsible for enforcing more than 20 whistleblowing laws? Here’s your chance to sound off on how good a job the agency is doing on that score.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a teleconference meeting May 19, 2021, to solicit public comments and suggestions on key issues facing OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

This is the seventh in a series of meetings on how the agency can improve the whistleblower program.

Open to the public, the meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT via telephone. Those interested in joining or participating in the meeting must register by May 12, 2021. Call-in information will be provided to all registrants. There is no fee to register.

The agency is seeking comments on:

  • How can OSHA better deliver its whistleblower services?
  • What kind of assistance can OSHA provide to help explain the agency’s whistleblower laws to employees and employers?
  • What can OSHA do to ensure that workers are protected from retaliation for raising concerns related to the pandemic?

Materials may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail. Written or electronic comments must be submitted by May 12, 2021. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be identified with Docket No. OSHA-2018-0005.

Learn more about OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

Commenters Get Another Month on Hazard Rule

You’ve got additional time to get in your comments on OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has extended the comment period for the proposed rule to update the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to May 19, 2021. OSHA extended the comment period by 30 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the proposed rule and collect information and data necessary for comment.

Submit comments identified by Docket No. OSHA-2019-0001, electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Read the Federal Register notice for details.

OSHA expects the HCS update will increase worker protections, and reduce the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries by further improving the information on the labels and Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals. Proposed modifications will also address issues since implementation of the 2012 standard, and improve alignment with other federal agencies and Canada.

The deadline for submitting comments had been April 19, 2021.

Thawed Out: Non-Hispanics to Get Fair Shot at Jobs With Ice Cream Maker in Title VII Settlement

Here’s a case where Hispanics were the favored group for hire–and non-Hispanics were frozen out from job consideration.

Helados La Tapatia, Inc. will pay $200,000 and furnish comprehensive injunctive relief to settle a race and national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Monday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the Fresno-based ice cream company favored Hispanic job applicants over others, including black, white and Asian applicants, for such entry-level positions as warehouse worker and route sales driver. The EEOC further contends that Helados not only failed to hire, but also discouraged and deterred non-Hispanic applicants from applying for positions. Finally, the EEOC alleged that Helados fired its sole non-Hispanic driver in Fresno one week after he was hired because of his race and national origin.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against the company in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Helados La Tapatia, Inc., et al., Case No. 1:20-cv-00722-DAD-HBK) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, Helados has agreed to injunctive remedies including hiring an external equal employment opportunity consultant; ensuring an open hiring process regardless of race and national origin; implementing a recruitment plan that includes hiring goals to address past discriminatory practices; training for employees and managers, and reporting requirements. The company has also agreed to maintain a centralized tracking system for all complaints of discrimination and the application and hiring of personnel. The court will maintain jurisdiction over the case during the decree’s three-and-a-half-year term.

“In today’s society, people should not have to worry that they will be turned down for a position because of their race or national origin,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district office, whose jurisdiction includes Fresno County. “It is imperative that employers conduct self-audits to make sure their hiring practices ensure equal opportunity for all applicants.”

Melissa Barrios, director of the Fresno local office, added, “An employer should never take into account a person’s race or national origin when making employment-based decisions such as hiring.  Where an employer has discriminated based on race or national origin, a recruitment plan may be appropriate injunctive relief. Helados has agreed to make changes that will benefit its workforce, and we encourage all employers to review their hiring practices to make sure they are in accordance with federal law.”

According to its website, http://www.heladoslatapatia.com, Helados produces Mexican-style deserts such as frozen fruit bars and ice cream products.

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

High Rent: Property Co. Gets Out From Under EEOC Harassment Suit With $88K Settlement

The only way to defeat sexual harassment is for the victims to fight back.

Sealy Management Company, Inc., a property sale, rental and management company headquartered in Tuscaloosa, Ala., that owns and manages apartments in Alabama and three other states, has agreed to pay $88,785 and take other steps to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Monday.

In its suit, the EEOC charged that the supervisor and co-worker of an assistant manager spread false, sexually explicit rumors about her–specifically, that she received a promotion because she slept with the company president. The assistant manager repeatedly complained to management, but Sealy failed to properly investigate, took no effective remedial action, and suspended her after she complained. After the assistant manager filed a charge with the EEOC, Sealy placed her on unpaid leave. When she resigned, Sealy recharacterized her resignation as a termination for violation of company policy.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliation against employees who complain or file EEOC charges about sexual harassment.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama (EEOC v. Sealy Management Company, Inc., Civil Action No. 7:20-cv-01505-LSC) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit requires Sealy to revise its anti-discrimination policy and procedures, provide training to all employees and post written notice to employees of their right to a discrimination-free workplace.  

“The false and malicious rumor spread by Sealy’s employees created a hostile work environment that the victim endured for over a year,” said Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District. “The EEOC is pleased that the parties were able to reach early resolution and that Sealy will compensate the victim and implement safeguards aimed at preventing future discrimination, including training staff.”

EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson said, “Spreading workplace rumors that a woman was hired or promoted because of a sexual relationship and not on her merit can create a hostile work environment. This case illustrates why employers should have strong policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment, including policies against this kind of rumormongering.”

The EEOC’s Birmingham District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

Cool Down: HVAC Company to Pay $175K to Settle EEOC Suit Alleging Multitide of Violations

This workplace was decidedly hostile to women and blacks–hopefully not so much anymore.

Climatemp Cooling & Heating, Inc., an HVAC company based in Summerdale, Ala., has agreed to pay $175,000 and provide other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charging race discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, the federal agency announced April 12.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Climatemp fired a former employee in retaliation for his complaints about owner Randy Englebert’s harassment of female employees and refusal to hire qualified black applicants. The EEOC charged that Englebert frequently called female employees derogatory names based on their sex, referred to having hired them for their looks and to obtain sexual favors, and mocked their intelligence.

Englebert also routinely referred to African Americans by using racially derogatory terms and instructed employees to indicate the race of black applicants on job applications to ensure they were not hired. The company fired another employee because she had bi-racial grand¬children, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and race discrimination in employment, and retaliating against an employee who opposes discrimination or harassment based on race or sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama (Equal Employment Opportunity Com-mission v. Climatemp Cooling & Heating, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00425-CG-B) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC brought the lawsuit on behalf of the two terminated employees, a class of female employees and a class of black applicants who were denied employment.

In addition to the $175,000 in monetary relief the 13 claimants will share, the four-year consent decree resolving the case requires Climatemp to develop and communicate to all employees company policies designed to ensure a discrimination-free workplace, annually train its employees, and provide multiple avenues for employees to report discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

“Employees have the right to work in an environment where they are judged on their ability and not based upon irrelevant characteristics like sex, race or the race of family members,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “Federal law also prohibits an employer from refusing to hire qualified applicants based on race and punishing an employee who complains about it.”
 
Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “Climatemp created a work environment where women were sexually harassed and bullied, African Americans did not get hired, and employees were subject to termination for complaining about discrimination or harassment. The EEOC remains committed to combating this type of harassment and discrimination through vigorous law enforcement efforts.”

Climatemp Cooling & Heating, Inc. is an Alabama corporation that provides HVAC services with multiple locations across south Alabama.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

OSHA, Tex. Contractors Renew Safety Accord

Oftentime, Texans and the feds are at loggerheads–but not this time.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Panhandle of Texas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors in Amarillo renewed a three-year alliance designed to educate employers and employees on construction hazards. The alliance focuses on reducing and preventing falls, electrocution, struck-by and caught-in-between hazards by increasing training and implementing best practices to improve safety and health programs. Last year, more than 12,000 workers and employers received safety training at various workshops and seminars presented by the Panhandle of Texas Chapter-AGC, a trade organization that has served contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and service providers in the 32 northern Texas Panhandle counties for more than 60 years.

“Together, OSHA and the Panhandle of Texas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors are helping to prevent injuries and illnesses in the construction industry,” said OSHA Area Director Elizabeth Linda Routh in Lubbock, Texas. “By renewing this successful alliance, we will continue to ensure industry employers and workers are aware of the hazards that exist in the construction industry and the importance of hazard prevention.”

The OSHA Alliance Program fosters collaborative relationships with groups committed to worker safety and health. Alliance partners help OSHA reach targeted audiences, such as employers and workers in high-hazard industries, giving them better access to workplace safety and health tools and information.

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 American working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.