Archive for June, 2016

Work Scheduling Bill Advances in D.C.

Workers would not longer be at their employers’ beck-and-call under legislation that is making its way through the Washington, D.C. city council. The bill, which passed a council committee last week, would impose strict rules for the amount of advice notice employers must give employees when scheduling their shifts.

If the bill passes, the nation’s capital would join San Francisco as the only two cities to outlaw the practice known as “just-in-time” scheduling. Some companies use that practice to assign workers according to the time of day or month that they expect the most business, requiring them to be available at a moment’s notice and sometimes sending them home if business is slow.

The “Hours and Scheduling Stability Act of 2015” would prohibit employers with more than 40 locations nationwide from making changes to workers’ schedules less than two weeks in advance. Businesses would also have to give extra hours to current part-time workers, instead of hiring more part-time workers.

Businesses that do not comply with the law could be fined.

The bill passed the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs  a week ago today in a 3 to 2 vote.

Text of the proposed legislation is here.

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Amusement Park Settles ADA Lawsuit Over Nonaccomodation for Clock-in Procedure

An employee with intellectual challenges is just as much entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the law as someone with a physical disability.

That lesson was brought home to an amusement park in Austin, Texas, which has just agreed to pay $20,000 to settle allegations that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to accommodate an intellectually challenged employee by considering an alternative clock-in procedure.

The lawsuit alleged that Austin’s FEC, LLC and Austin Entertainment Center, LP d/b/a Austin’s Park N Pizza violated the rights of 26-year=old former employee with a disability, caused by childhood traumatic brain injuries, who worked part-time on weekends for four years at Austin’s Park N Pizza, an amusement park and restaurant.

The employee successfully performed custodial work, assisted with the miniature golf area and cleared tables, the EEOC said. When new management arrived, the company decided he was no longer able to do the job because he did not correctly operate a new electronic system for clocking in and out of work.

In its suit, EEOC said, the company was unwilling to consider an alternative clock-in procedure. Although a reasonable accommodation could have easily resolved the problem, Austin’s Park N Pizza stopped paying the former employee and notified him by email that he was fired, the agency charged.

“People with intellectual disabilities can be very productive employees with minimal assistance or direction,” said EEOC San Antonio Field Office Senior Trial Attorney David Rivela. “Employers can benefit from such productivity by treating workers with disabilities fairly and decently, and ensuring that reasonable accommodation requests are properly addressed.”

Read more about the settlement.

$202K Settlement Ends EEOC’s Sexual Orientation Lawsuit Against Maryland Company

The first lawsuit that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed against a private sector employer for sexual orientation discrimination has yielded a sizeable monetary settlement for the alleged victim.

On Friday, the EEOC announced that defendant IFCO Systems will pay a fired lesbian employee $182,200 and also donate $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

In this lawsuit filed in March, the EEOC alleged that a lesbian employee at IFCO’s Baltimore facility was repeatedly harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation. Her supervisor made numerous comments to her regarding her sexual orientation and appearance, such as “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress,” according to the suit. EEOC charged that the supervisor also made sexually suggestive gestures to her. IFCO retaliated against the female employee by firing her just days after she complained to management and called the employee hotline to report the harassment, according to the suit.

“We commend IFCO for working with us to resolve this case amicably and without engaging in protracted litigation,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. In addition to the monetary relief, this landmark settlement ensures that all IFCO employees and applicants are protected against discrimination because of sexual orientation. We encourage other employers to follow IFCO’s example and implement similarly comprehensive policies and training programs to prevent workplace discrimination against members of the LGBT community.”

EEOC Sues on Male Ultrasound Tech’s Behalf

A male ultrasound technician was doing a fine job performing transvaginal ultrasounds on female patients when–out of the blue–the hospital that employed him fired him.

That got the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which announced last week it has filed a Title VII sex discrimination lawsuit on the his behalf against his employers, Nevada Health Centers, Inc. and Ultracare Las Vegas.

In this case, the EEOC alleges, Ultracare  Las Vegas hired David Matlock as an ultrasound technician and assigned him to  work for Nevada Health Centers, Inc. as part of a contract between the two  companies whereby Ultracare Las Vegas provided ultrasound technicians at Nevada  Health Centers, Inc. facilities.

One of Matlock’s many duties was to perform  transvaginal ultrasounds. Matlock performed his job without complaint. Eventually,  Nevada Health Centers, Inc. requested that Matlock be replaced by a female  ultrasound technician and Ultracare Las Vegas acceded to the request by  discharging Matlock and providing a female replacement.

Was it patient preference that pushed Nevada Health Centers to make fire Matlock? If it was, that would be just as illegal as if the employer acted solely on its own bias.

Read more about the lawsuit.

Security Company Settles Charges It Made Applicants Reveal Disabilities, Medical History

Applicants for jobs with security giant Guardsmark won’t any longer have to answer questions about whether they have a disability or reveal their family medical history.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company, one of the largest security companies in North America, put more than 1,100 applicants in 2011 and 2012 in that uncomfortable and illegal position.

The EEOC announced on Thursday that Guardsmark had settled disability and genetic information discrimination charges to the tune of $329,640 in monetary relief.

As a reminder, here’s the do’s and dont’s on these types of questions.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act forbids discrimination on the basis of  genetic information when it comes to any aspect of employment, including  hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe  benefits, or any other term or condition of employment. It is unlawful for an employer to ask,  acquire or maintain such information.

Genetic  information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the  genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about  the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual’s family members  (i.e. family medical history).

Under the  Americans With Disabilities Act, an employer may not ask disability-related questions and may not conduct  medical examinations until after it makes a conditional job offer to the  applicant. This helps ensure that an applicant’s possible hidden disability  (including a prior history of a disability) is not considered before the  employer evaluates an applicant’s non-medical qualifications. An employer may  not ask disability-related questions or require a medical examination pre-offer  even if it intends to look at the answers or results only at the post-offer stage.

Read more about the settlement here.

 

At YouthRules.gov, Answers to Questions About Employing Young People Are Just a Click Away

With summer beckoning, it’s that time of year when many teenagers, no longer having the hassle of going to school, turn toward more pecuniary pursuits of making money.

Teenagers and their parents don’t have to fly blind when it comes to figuring out what the rights of children are in the workplace.

Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Labor has an online resource that addresses many of these concerns. It’s called YouthRules.gov.

The site includes a Young Worker Toolkit which includes plain language brochures, a printable calendar for recording work hours, and facts sheets on popular summer jobs-amusement park jobs, lifeguarding, grocery and restaurant work, farm labor and door-to-door sales.

The site also explains how to file a complaint when an employer breaks the rules.

Interior Secretary Calls Out National Park Service for Tolerating Harassment of Female Employees

Our national parks may look bucolic and serene on the surface, but that masks a darker reality for women who work there.

Responding to reports of sexual harassment in the National Park Service, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell sent a written warning to 70,000 agency employees to “comply with the ethical responsibilities expected of all Federal employees.”

It seems the National Park Service has a sexual harassment problem. An investigation by the Interior Department’s deputy inspector general documented evidence of a long-pattern of harassment and hostile work environment at the Grand Canyon. According to investigators, boatmen and a supervisor pressured female employees for sex on river trips, bullied them, then retaliated against women who rejected their advances or reported the problem.

The federal government is supposed to be a model employer. So it needs to get its act together and stamp out this behavior.

It was Smokey the Bear who famously said “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

It’s the National Park Service’s turn now to prevent sexual harassment.