Archive for March, 2016

Female Soccer Players Say They’re Victims of Wage Discrimination, File Charge With EEOC

It’s a complaint often-heard but not often-acted upon in U.S. sports: That female athletes are paid less in tournament earnings than their male counterparts. Tennis and golf are the usual culprits mentioned.

Now some players on the U.S. women’s national soccer team–winner of last year’s World Cup–have decided to tackle the issue head on.  Last night they filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the complaint, men earn as much as $17,625 for an exhibition match against a top opponent, and get no less than $5,000 even if the team loses.

Contrast that with women.  They are paid a maximum of $4,950 even if they win every game. And they’re only paid for the first 20 exhibition games they play each year. They get no pay for any games beyond that. Men get paid at least $5,000 no matter how many exhibition games they play.

And the men’s team earned $9 million in the 2014 World Cup for losing in the round of 16, while the women made $2 million when they won the 2015 championship.

To be continued…


DOL: Causation Presumption Might Speed Benefits for Ex-Nuclear Weapons Lab Workers

Former workers at a Columbus, Ohio nuclear weapons plant operated by Battelle Laboratories may get a leg up in collecting compensation and medical benefits for illnesses caused by their employment, the U.S. Department of Labor announced today.

The DOL said that these workers would qualify for a “causation expansion” simplifying the process of applying for benefits if they are included in a designated Special Exposure Cohort class of employees, and have a diagnosis of one of 22 specified cancers.

A presumption of causation can simplify the process for nuclear weapons workers applying for compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, the DOL said.

Qualifying employees must have worked at least 250 days total, either solely under this employment, or in combination with workdays within the parameters established for one or more classes of employees included in the Special Exposure Cohort.

The work must have taken place at the Battelle Lab’s King Avenue site in Columbus, Ohio, from July 1, 1956 to Dec. 31, 1970.

The EEOICPA provides compensation and medical benefits to employees whose work in the nuclear weapons industry made them ill. Survivors of qualified workers may also be entitled to benefits. To date, the U.S. Department of Labor has paid $10.9 million in EEOICPA compensation and medical benefits to 99 King Avenue Battelle Laboratories claimants, and more than $12.3 billion in compensation and benefits nationwide.

Here’s today’s DOL announcement in full.

4-4 Split on High Court Leaves Intact 9th Circuit’s Ruling Rejecting Challenge to Union Agency Fees

The absence of a 9th U.S. Supreme Court justice was felt today in a major labor law case challenging the right of public sector unions to require that all employees in the bargaining unit pay agency fees.  Those fees are used to support union activities that some members might oppose. In a 4-4 vote, the justices let stand a lower court ruling denying the challenge.

Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other California teachers brought this challenge to the union fee requirement, arguing that forcing them to pay it violated their First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of association.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the teachers.

In arguments last January before the U.S. Supreme Court, the teachers sought a ruling to overturn the high court’s 1977 ruling, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education authorizing states to require nonunion members to pay those agency fees. Under Abood, those workers don’t have to join unions or fund their political activities. But they can be compelled to pay for collective bargaining and other costs of contract administration.

The court’s 4-4 tie lets stand the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, meaning that California and other states subject to the appeals courts’ jurisdiction can continue to require nonunion members to pay those agency fees.

Justice Garland, anyone? Necessarily, there will be fewer 4-4 ties once the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat is filled.


Exemptions Granted for Visually-Impaired Drivers

Worried that a commercial truck driver with good sight in only one eye is beyond the wheel?

Don’t be, says the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, which last week granted exemptions to three dozen truck drivers from vision requirements prohibiting them from operating commercial motor vehicles.

In the same announcement in the March 22 Federal Register, the FMCSA renewed exemptions for another 66 drivers.

Many of those truck drivers fail the vision requirement because they are blind in one eye. The FMCSA has determined their vision in the other eye is strong enough to provide enough safety.

You can read more about this in the March 22 Federal Register under the Transportation Department heading.

Discount Tire Company in $2.1M Settlement of Systemic Sex Discrimination Suit Filed by EEOC

Mavis Discount Tire field locations in the Northeast will have a new look soon–more women in jobs where previously there had been none. It didn’t happen by happenstance, but rather as the result of action by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

On Friday the EEOC announced it has settled a case of systemic sex discrimination against the retailer which also includes Mavis Tire Supply Corp. / Mavis Tire NY, Inc. / Cole Muffler, Inc.

According to the EEOC, Mavis engaged in a pattern or practice of sex discrimination by refusing to hire women for its field positions – managers, assistant managers, mechanics, and tire technicians – in the company’s over 140 stores throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. EEOC also charged that Mavis failed to make, keep, and preserve employment records.

The settlement includes a $2.1 million payment by the company and a commitment to hiring goals for women, a comprehensive recruitment and hiring protocol, and anti-discrimination policies and training.

EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry said, “This case exemplifies EEOC’s commitment to remedying systemic bias. EEOC found that Mavis for years had maintained a pattern of not hiring women at its field locations. This settlement ensures that qualified women will continue to be hired in the future – and advances EEOC’s first priority in its Strategic Enforcement Plan, eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring.”

Read more about the lawsuit and settlement.

Silica Dust Exposure Final Rule Issued by DOL; First Update to Exposure Limit in Over 40 Years

A new rule on silica dust exposure will dramatically reduce the incidence of a host of diseases for American workers exposed to this hazard in their workplaces, the U.S. Department of Labor said yesterday in announcing the issuance of a rule it first proposed more than two years ago.

It’s the first update to the exposure standard since 1971.

OSHA estimates that when the final rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease – each year. The agency also estimates the final rule will provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year.

About 2.3 million men and women face exposure to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including two million construction workers who drill and cut silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing. Most employers can limit harmful dust exposure by using equipment that is widely available – generally using water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to capture dust where it is created.

The final rule will improve worker protection by:

  • Reducing the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.
  • Requiring employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) and work practices to limit worker exposure; provide respiratory protection when controls are not able to limit exposures to the permissible level; limit access to high exposure areas; train workers; and provide medical exams to highly exposed workers.
  • Providing greater certainty and ease of compliance to construction employers – including many small employers – by including a table of specified controls they can follow to be in compliance, without having to monitor exposures.
  • Staggering compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet the requirements, e.g., extra time for the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry to install new engineering controls and for all general industry employers to offer medical surveillance to employees exposed between the PEL and 50 micrograms per cubic meter and the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Employers don’t have to comply with the rule right away; it’s being phased in with different dates for the construction industry and another for general industry and maritime companies.

Employers covered by the construction standard have until June 23, 2017 to comply with most requirements. Employers covered by the general industry and maritime standard have until June 23, 2018 to comply with most requirements; additional time is provided to offer medical exams to some workers and for hydraulic fracturing employers to install dust controls to meet the new exposure limit.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) were somewhat critical of the rule, not surprisingly. In a statement they said, The department’s first priority should have been strong enforcement of existing standards, something it has been unwilling to do. Even the department admits an alarming number of jobsites have not complied with existing requirements, yet the agency has failed to hold them accountable. There is no reason to believe this new approach will be any different.

And they continued: This new rule will impact countless workplaces across the country. There are a number of concerns with the rule that the committee will carefully review, including its feasibility, the cost to small businesses, and whether employers have enough time to implement it. We have an obligation to workers and employers to ensure responsible health and safety policies are in place and properly enforced.



Female Sales Consultant Was Victim of Same-Sex Harassment, EEOC Alleges in New Title VII Suit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is going to court on behalf of a female sales consultant for a North Carolina phone company, alleging that she was harassed by another female employee with no effort by management to put a stop to this behavior.

According to EEOC’s suit, in 2013, Fredarika Bowden, a sales consultant at ABC Phones of North Carolina store in Lumberton, N.C., was sexually harassed by a female co-worker. The suit charged that the harassment included inappropriate touching and sexual comments. EEOC said that although much of the offensive conduct was witnessed by a member of management, and Bowden also reported the harassment to management several times, the company failed to promptly stop the harassment.

Sexual harassment is illegal, regardless of whether the harasser is female or male, or the same or opposite gender as the victim,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “When employees report a manager’s or co-worker’s inappropriate behavior, employers must immediately investigate the claims and take steps to stop the harassment.”

Read today’s announcement about the lawsuit.

All Military Members Could Get 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave Under Bill Introduced in House

Member of the military would be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave under a bill introduced by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat.

Already women in the military can get 12 weeks of paid leave to care for their children. The new legislation would expand that eligibility to all military parents, men included, and also would be available for leave to raise an adopted children.

Under the bill, called the Military Parental Leave Modernization Act, fathers and both adoptive parents and service members who take in foster children would get 12 weeks of leave.

Applicants’ Rights Violated by Requirement to Fill Out Health History Form, EEOC Alleges in Suit

If you’re an employer, you’re playing with legal fire if you ask job applicants about their medical past–all the more so if you give them no choice but to reveal this information.

Yet another employer finds itself in the legal crosshairs of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allegedly for making job applicants disclose information about their health history.

The alleged scofflaw is Grisham Farm Products, Inc. of Mountain Grove, Mo., which the EEOC says violated federal law by requiring all job applicants to fill out a three-page health history before they would be considered for a job.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Phillip Sullivan, a retired law enforcement officer who sought employment with Grisham Farm Products, was told by the company that if he did not fully complete and submit a three-page health history form with his application, he would not be considered for any job.

The EEOC alleges that the use of the pre-employment form violated Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act because it requested information that could cause an applicant to identify himself or herself as a person with a disability. The suit further claims the form does not comply with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits employers from requesting or requiring genetic information, including medical histories, regarding applicants or their family members, except in limited circumstances allowed by statute.

“Job applicants cannot be required to provide employers with their medical history prior to receiving a job offer,” said James R. Neely, Jr., director of EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “Grisham Farm Products’ intrusive health history form is among the most egregious we have seen.”

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

OSHA Final Rule Sets Procedures for Whistleblower Complaints Under Dodd-Frank Act

And the beat goes on at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which on Thursday published a final rule on the filing of retaliation complaints under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010–one of 22 whistleblower laws administered by OSHA.

Section 1057 of the CFPA protects employees against retaliation for reporting potential violations of consumer financial protection laws to their employer, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or any other law enforcement or regulatory agency.

This final rule establishes procedures, burdens of proof, remedies and statutes of limitations similar to other whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA administers. The rule implements statutory requirements created by Congress and creates no new obligations for employers or employees.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety and consumer financial reform regulations. Additional information is available at

The text of the final rule is here.

OSHA’s announcement of the final rule is here.

This post was featured in the April 1 roundup of the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog.