Archive for September, 2014

S.C. Company Tolerated N-Word, Fired Black Employee for Complaining, EEOC Alleges

In this day and age, employers should know better than to tolerate employees’ use of the N-word, which many African Americans rightfully find offensive, as do many whites.

But evidently a metal-finishing company based in Bishopville, South Carolina never got the message. The EEOC announced today it has sued Carolina Metal Finishing LLC for racial harassment under Title VII in connection with two white employees continued use of the racial slur against an African American co-worker. After he complained repeatedly, management fired him, the EEOC alleged.

The use of off-color language and obscenities may be tolerated on the factory floor–but these coworkers crossed the legal line under Title VII by creating a hostile work environment based on race. It was then the company’s responsibility to stop this behavior rather than to blame the victim by firing him.

Read more.


EEOC: Company Wrong to Deny Job to Member of Nondenominational Church

Refusing to hire an applicant because of his religion is a violation of Title VII whether or not the person belongs to a particular church denomination. So says the EEOC, which last week brought a religious discrimination lawsuit against a Detroit-area car dealership that allegedly refused to hire an applicant for a sales job after learning of his religious beliefs.

The applicant, Brandan Allen, was a member of a non-denominational church, the EEOC said. He applied to work for Feldman Automotive, which has dealerships throughout metro-Detroit and Lansing.

“Some employers need to learn that religious discrimination and a 21st-century workplace don’t mix,”  said Miles Shultz, trial attorney for the EEOC’s Detroit Field Office.  “The EEOC is here to fight for people  unreasonably asked to choose between their faith and a job.”

DOL Issues New Veteran Employment Reporting Form, Replacing Vets 100 for U.S. Contractors

The U.S. Department of Labor played taps this week for a system of reporting on the employment of veterans by federal contractors and replaced it with what it described as a new and improved version that it says will take contractors less time to complete and be more useful in assessing how well they are meeting their affirmative action commitments.

The new rules apply to reporting by federal contractors subject to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.

Under the rule contractors will have to file what’s called the VETS-4212 showing aggregate data on the total number of protected veterans employed and newly hired by federal contractors, the total number of employees in the workforce, and the total number of new hires.

The new form replaces the VETS 100, which had required reporting of data on veterans’ employment by the 10 occupational categories and subcategories found on the revised EEO-1 Report, and by each of the four categories of veterans protected under the 2008 Job for Veterans Act amendments to VEVRAA.

The big difference is that under the new form the contractor has to report on the total number of veterans hired, whereas under the VETS 100 it had to break down that information by specific category of protected veteran, for example, Vietnam Veterans in one listing and disabled veterans in another.

Reporting veteran hiring information by job category is optional but not required on the VETS-4212.

DOL boasts that the new form requires 50 percent fewer reportable items than the VETS 100A.

The final rule was published in Thursday’s Federal Register.

Word-of-Mouth Recruiting, Harassment Land Maryland Company in Trouble With EEOC

You’re in a precarious legal position  if you rely on word-of-mouth recruiting to get the word out about job openings at your company.

Why? Because people invariably tell their friends and relatives–most in the same gender or race group as they are–but don’t tell anyone else. Word doesn’t get out to the wider community.

Using word-of-mouth has gotten one employer in trouble with the EEOC this week.

In a lawsuit filed this week, the EEOC alleges that ACM Services, Inc., a Rockville, Md.-based environmental remediation services contractor, violated federal law when it refused to hire women and African Americans for field laborer positions and subjected two female employees to sexual and national origin harassment before firing them.

The root cause of the failure to hire women and African Americans–unless you believe that the company was intentionally racist–was the reliance on word-of-mouth recruiting.

So cut that off if you are still relying solely on that. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in legal hot waters.

Read more.

Perez: U.S. Lagging in Paid Leave

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has taken his country to task for being far behind the curve when it comes to paid leave laws. In a blog posting, the labor secretary said he realized just how far behind we are when he met last week in Australia with his counterparts from 20 major economies.

Bottom line: We are the only industrialized country that doesn’t have a paid leave law.

And that’s  not consistent with the lip service we give to the “family values,” he said.

Perez gave these examples:

  • Canada guarantees at least 15 weeks of paid maternity leave, with some employee cost- sharing as part of the national employment insurance system. Parental leave is 37 weeks shared between both parents with similar payments. There is also child care support of $100 per month for children under six.
  • The United Kingdom allows women to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave (including 39 weeks with pay), in addition to a range of options for paternity leave.
  • Australia offers up to 18 weeks of parental leave with financial support, and at 5.8 percent its unemployment rate is lower than ours. The conservative Australian government didn’t embrace this policy grudgingly; they made it a centerpiece of their campaign platform and want to extend it to 26 weeks with more financial support.
  • Brazil, with unemployment comparable to ours, grants women 120 days of leave at 100 percent pay.
  • Japan offers paid maternity leave at slightly reduced salary and benefits for up to 14 weeks of total leave. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe has made “Womenomics” – increasing GDP by boosting female labor force participation — a cornerstone of his governing agenda.

He concludes: “While the rest of the world leans in, we’re still falling behind.”

Read more from his blog.

EEOC: Pregnant Employee’s Firing Unlawful

Some employers still don’t get it when it comes to female employees who are pregnant. It is illegal to fire them because of their pregnancy! End of discussion. Or it should be, but these cases keep cropping up. Some day maybe we will reach critical mass and the rights of pregnant employees to keep working will be respected.

A Fort Wayne, Indiana product and service store violated Title VII when it fired an employee after she informed her manager of her pregnancy, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed this week.

According to the commission, the employee’s final task was to train her replacement, an office employee Office Concepts hired only in anticipation of her departure. Immediately after firing the employee, Office Concepts hired another new employee. Neither new employee was pregnant, the EEOC said.

“To deny a woman employment because she is pregnant places her and her family in a position of immeasurable harm,” said Laurie A. Young, EEOC regional attorney for the Indianapolis District Office. “Women employees have the right to work in an environment free of bias and adverse actions because of their pregnancy. The EEOC continues, with this suit, to seek vigorous enforcement of the laws that protect all women from this kind of discrimination.”

Read more about the case.


EEOC Sues on Behalf of Employee Terminated After Returning From Medical Leave

Too many employers are ignoring the ADA’s edict that a person cannot be denied employment based on recovering from a medical condition. Latest case in point: The EEOC is suing a New Mexico-based health care organization that it says terminated an employee returning to work from medical leave to have a 23 pound tumor removed.

According to the EEOC, the employee gave her employer–Apria Healthcare Group, Inc., an Albuquerque home respiratory services and medical equipment company–a list of her medical restrictions, but the company fired her.

That violated the Americans With Disabilities Act because the decision was based on assumptions about the employee’s disability–or what the employer believes is a disability.

Read more.

Well Heeled: DSW Settles ADEA Suit Arising From Firing of Management Employees

When you enter a DSW store and buy shoes–at least in the store I go to–you see people of all different ages working the floor and the registers, all with the mission of you walking out with at least one new pair of shoes.

But apparently something more nefarious was going on in the company’s Midwest regional office, where the EEOC alleged that seven former management employees over age 40 were targeted for discharge as part of a “reduction in force.”  On their behalf and a larger class of former employees, the commission sued the company for violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Today came the news from the EEOC that the case has settled for $90,000.  As part of the settlement, DSW also must report to the EEOC for the next three years on all employee complaints of age discrimination arising out of the regions covered by the settlement decree. It must also train all its employees in these locations on the prevention and eradication of age discrimination, and also revise its anti-discrimination policy.

It only took DSW–formerly Designer Shoe Warehouse–a week to settle the lawsuit after it was filed, which tells me that the EEOC probably had a pretty strong case against the company, that it just wanted to go away.

California Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

In less than a year from now, California employers will have to provide up to three days of paid sick leave for their employees, under a law recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

The law, which takes effect next July 15, requires that employers provide paid sick leave for all employees who work 30 or more days in a single calendar year. Employees will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

The text of the bill–The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act
of 2014  is here.

EEOC: Hospital Violated Title VII by Not Accommodating High-Risk Pregnant Employee

Whether an employer has to reasonably accommodate a pregnant employee as it would a nonpregnant employee is an issue now before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, the EEOC has sued another employer, claiming that it violated Title VII By denying a pregnant employee an accommodation even though it had accommodated a male employee with a temporary impairment.

The EEOC took up the cause this week of a female employee at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago who claimed that rather than accommodate her high-risk pregnancy, it denied her an accommodation and fired her.

According to the complaint, Roseland refused to accommodate the employee consistent with her medical restrictions by not requiring her to be available to restrain disorderly and combative patients, and went on to fire her.  On the other hand, a male security guard with an injury sought an accommodation so that he would not be required to restrain patients, and he was assigned to a desk job.

“You can’t deny a female employee a temporary change in her duties due to her pregnancy while providing the same accommodation to a man. That’s pregnancy discrimination and it can’t pass muster under federal law,” said John Rowe, director of the EEOC’s Chicago district office.

Read more about the case.