Archive for October, 2016

Settlement Reached Between EEOC, N.C. Phone Company in Same-Sex Harassment Lawsuit

$50,000 is how much it will cost ABC Phones of North Carolina to a lawsuit filed against by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that a female sales consultant working for the company was subjected to same-sex harassment.

The EEOC announced the settlement today, bringing to a conclusion this suit that it filed in March

The EEOC charged that in 2013, Fredarika Bowden was sexually harassed by a female co-worker during her employment with A Wireless. Bowden worked as a sales consultant at the company’s store in Lumberton, N.C.

The suit charged that the harassment included inappropriate touching and sexual comments. EEOC’s complaint further claimed that although much of the offensive conduct was witnessed by a member of management and Bowden 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 the same or the 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 misconduct.”

DOL Webinar Monday on Helping Veterans, Their Spouses in Transition to Civilian Employment

Before welcoming the trick or treaters tomorrow on Halloween, come listen to a U.S. Department of Labor webinar to share employment resources with military spouses.

DOL is presenting this free webinar as part of National Work and Family Month.

The aim of the program is to help “military spouses get the employment assistance they need to connect with meaningful employment and training resources to achieve their personal career goal,” according to the DOL announcement.

The Transition Assistance Program run by the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service is aimed to equip transitioning service members with the knowledge and skills they need to attain and retain civilian employment, such as writing a resume, interviewing well and negotiating a salary. Military spouses are also eligible to take this workshop and can register through the family support office on their installation.

Other ways in which DOL provides help to veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses include:

  • free employment and training services at nearly 2,500 American Job Centers across the country;
  • partnersjip the National Labor Exchange− used in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico by tens of thousands of employers. On an average day, it contains 2.1 million job listings collected from corporate job postings, state job banks, and the federal government’s USAJOBS website;
  • works with states and local employers to recognize the skills of veterans and military spouses when it comes to licensing and credentialing by encouraging them to recognize the credentials earned by military spouses;
  • promote on-the job training opportunities like registered apprenticeship;
  • proactively engage employers about hiring veterans and military spouses, and partner with national efforts such as the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program and the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership.

In Conciliation Agreement With EEOC, Employer Agrees To Rein in Criminal Background Checks

A logistics services company won’t be quite so free and easy about conducting criminal background checks of its workers anymore.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Wednesday that Schenker, Inc., a global leader in the field of contract logistics services, has agreed to pay $750,000 to conciliate several charges of discrimination filed with the commission.

Under the agreement, the company will change its criminal background check policy, making sure that background checks are no conducted on prospective employees until after an offer of employment is made.

“Moreover, criminal records will be reviewed on a case by case basis, with consideration given to the nature and gravity of the offense, the time elapsed, and the specifications of the position,” the EEOC announcement said.

The EEOC had issued a finding of reasonable cause that the company had violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, hindering the employment opportunities for African American and Hispanic applicants nationwide.

Association, OSHA Team Up Again to Protect Temporary Workers From Workplace Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has renewed its alliance with an advocacy group to protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.

During the five-year agreement, OSHA and the American Staffing Association will continue to educate workers about their rights, and train staffing firms and their clients on their responsibilities to protect workers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The partners will work together to distribute information on how to recognize and prevent workplace hazards, and to further develop ways of communicating such to staffing firms, host employers and temporary workers.

Previous accomplishments include a webinar that discussed the safety and health obligations of host employers or clients using the services of staffing firms. Additionally, ASA provided their members with webinars focused on: the shared responsibility of host employers and staffing agencies to workplace safety; Ebola-related liability challenges for staffing and recruiting firms; and how to handle workplace incident investigations.

ASA, founded in 1966, has served as the voice of the U.S. staffing and recruiting industry. With more than 1,800 members, ASA advances the interests of staffing and recruiting firms through advocacy, public relations and education.

Read more about this development announced on Tuesday here.

Kentucky City Settles DOJ Lawsuit Alleging Denial of Light-Duty Work to Pregnant Cops

Female police officers in Florence, Kentucky, won’t have to worry anymore that they will be denied light-duty jobs if they want them when they become pregnant.

That’s thanks to a settlement of a Title VII and Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit announced today by the U.S. Department of Justice.

It’s the department’s first lawsuit challenging a discriminatory light duty policy since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling regarding light duty policies and pregnant employees in Young v. United Parcel Service.  It is also the department’s first lawsuit challenging disability-related “no restrictions” policies in the workplace.

In its March 2015 ruling in Young, the high court held that Title VII requires that employers that accommodate workers with temporary disabilities also do so for pregnant employees unless it has a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for doing so other than cost or convenience.

According to the department’s complaint, Florence discriminated against two pregnant police officers by denying both officers’ requests for light duty.  The department alleges that Florence previously assigned light duty positions to employees who were temporarily unable to perform their regular job duties, regardless of why the employee needed light duty.  In April 2013, within months of a police officer’s pregnancy-related light duty request, Florence limited light duty to employees with on-the-job injuries.  Florence also required that employees with non-work-related illnesses, injuries or conditions demonstrate that they had “no restrictions” before they could return to work.

In 2014, according to the department’s complaint, Police Officers Lyndi Trischler and Samantha Riley requested light duty when they were unable to perform their duties as patrol officers due to their pregnancies.  Officer Trischler, who was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy and suffered complications, also requested light duty as a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy-related disability.  Florence denied the requests and required each to take leave.  After placing Officers Trischler and Riley on leave, Florence continued to grant light duty to other employees who were similar in their ability or inability to work.

 

W. Va. Hospital Changes Same-Sex Benefit Policy Under Agreement Settling EEOC Sex Bias Charge

No longer will employees at a Morgantown, West Virginia hospital be denied benefits because they are in same-sex marriages.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that Mon General Hospital located in Morgantown will pay $8,900 and change its policy on same-sex spousal benefits. The terms were agreed to by the hospital and the EEOC in an agreement settling a charge of sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The EEOC filed the charge on behalf of hospital employee Kathy McIntire, alleging that she was denied spousal medical benefits for the sole reason that she is a female married to another female.

At the time, McIntire was seeking spousal coverage for her wife while working in the Morgantown, W.V., medical facility, but Mon General’s policy provided for spousal medical coverage only to opposite-sex spouses. As a result, McIntire and her wife sustained losses when they had to pay for medical care and services that would have been covered had McIntire’s wife been eligible for consideration as a beneficiary under Mon General’s benefits policy.

Under the agreement, which will be in effect for one year, Mon General must affirm and communicate to its employees that it has eliminated its former policy and instituted a new policy that includes making same-sex spouses eligible for employer-sponsored benefits. Mon General will also provide a report semi-annually to EEOC regarding any employees who have requested employer-sponsored benefits for their same sex spouse, and whether or not such requests were granted.

No one should be denied access to medical benefits simply because of who they are or whom they love,” said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang. “EEOC will continue to advance opportunity for all and protect the rights of workers to be free from discrimination, as our civil rights laws require.”

OSHA Fingers Ohio Auto Parts Company for Repeat Violation of Machine Hazard Rules

Maybe in some future presidential campaign the issue of workers’ safety on the job will take its rightful place among the pressing concerns of the day. There’s simply no excuse for companies not observing fundamental safety rules.

Latest case in point: today’s announcement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration citing an Ohio auto parts manufacturer from failing to protects its workers from machine hazards.

OSHA said it has imposed penalties of $536,249 to Milark Industries Inc. for three willful egregious, one willful, and three serious violations of safety standards stemming from multiple investigations of injuries as well as complaints received alleging unsafe working conditions. The agency has placed Milark in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The absence of adequate machine safe guards led to an amputation and other machine-related injuries at a Mansfield manufacturer of parts used by automobile, motorcycle and appliance brands, OSHA said. One of these injuries involved a 22-year-old temporary employee who suffered the partial amputation of two fingers on his left hand on his first day of work.

OSHA’s May and June investigations cite the company for hazards at both its Baird Parkway and Rupp Road facilities in Mansfield. OSHA found the company:

  • Failed to lock-out robotic welding cells and tube bender.
  • Bypassed safety interlocks in order to maintain the production rate.
  • Bypassed safety devices while conducting maintenance activities.
  • Failed to train workers in procedures to prevent unintentional machinery operationduring service and maintenance, a process known as lockout/tagout.