EEOC Conference Features Ex-MLB Manager

If you’ve got time today, head on over to this EEOC conference on hot topics in employment. The EXCEL conference isn’t about spreadsheets, but instead what the commission calls “top-of-mind employment issues.”

On June 20, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the keynote speakers and the full agenda for the 21st annual Examining Conflicts in Employment Laws (EXCEL) conference. Themed “Inspiration, Innovation, Action!,” the conference boasts two specialty tracks, three dynamic keynote speakers and more than 50 workshops.

“We are excited to welcome attendees to EXCEL 2018,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “The featured speakers at this conference have more than 50 years of combined professional experience and are uniquely qualified to address top-of-mind employment issues. Our solutions-oriented workshops are designed to give attending HR professionals tools to tackle complex emerging issues as well as long-standing employment issues. This conference gives employers and employment professionals tools to address and combat workplace discrimination of all kinds.”

Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker, Jr. is a Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player and three-time league Manager of the Year. Baker brings inspiration to EXCEL with more than 20 years of athletic and managerial experience, including his record as one of the winningest managers in baseball history.

Jeff T.H. Pon, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), brings innovation to EXCEL. Pon has more than 25 years of public and private sector organizational leadership and talent management and is currently managing human resource operations for the nation’s largest employer, the federal government.

An award-winning and internationally recognized consultant and speaker on diversity and inclusion, Lenora Billings-Harris, will pull it all together for action.

EXCEL will be held in Washington, DC from July 10 to 12, 2018 with workshops on topics that address harassment in the workplace in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, diversity and inclusion, sex discrimination and more.

Public and private sector EEO managers, HR professionals, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) specialists and other interested parties are invited to attend plenary sessions featuring EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic and other high-ranking EEOC officials. In addition to informative sessions on emerging trends in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), attendees can satisfy certain continuing education requirements.

Additional conference details including agenda, location, pricing and online registration are available at https://eeotraining.eeoc.gov. Registration information can also be obtained by calling 866-446-0940 or 703-291-0880. If using the Virginia Relay Service, call 800-828-1120 (TTY). Email questions to eeoc.traininginstitute@eeoc.gov.

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Barriers Keeping Women From Federal Public Safety Jobs Identified in a New EEOC Report

If you’re not seeking many women fight forest fires in national parks or doing other public safety jobs, maybe that’s because there are barriers in the way to their taking on those carriers.

In its continuing effort to aid the federal government in serving as a model employer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on June 18 issued its federally focused report addressing equal employment opportunities for women in various public safety occupations.

The report, entitled Recruitment & Hiring Gender Disparities in Public Safety Occupations, is intended to serve as a government-wide resource guide of leading practices for federal agencies when recruiting and hiring for these positions. The EEOC conducted legal and social science research and met with focus groups of EEO directors, human resources staff, and public safety employees within selected Federal government agencies as part of its evaluation. The focus group participants reported possible barriers and suggested leading practices that may help increase female participation in public safety occupations government-wide.

The following are barriers identified in the Recruitment & Hiring Gender Disparities in Public Safety Occupations report:

  • lack of work-life balance for women in public safety positions;
  • misperceptions that women are uncomfortable with carrying firearms;
  • misperceptions that women are uncomfortable with physically strenuous job functions;
  • hiring officials’ concerns that women cannot meet rigorous fitness exam requirements; and
  • too few initiatives that are aimed at the recruitment of women.

Several recommendations from the EEOC’s focus groups to improve the recruitment and hiring of women in public safety occupations include:

  • coordinating a Government-wide cadet program;
  • targeting outreach as early as the grade school level;
  • targeting recruitment of women at the college level;
  • increasing the visibility of women recruiters;
  • setting diversity strategy goals tied to recruitment and hiring;
  • making an administration-wide push;
  • using one-stop, one-day hiring processes; and
  • using social media.

The EEOC plans to finalize a second report on promotion and retention in federal public safety positions later this fiscal year.

EEOC: Muslim Woman Ousted for Wearing Hijab

New Mexico’s known as a land of wide open spaces and tolerance–but evidently not at this restaurant when it comes to employees wearing religious gear.

Blue Moon Diner LLC, in Farmington, N.M., violated federal law by subjecting a Muslim woman to religious discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on June 19.

In its suit, the EEOC charges that the diner failed to accommodate employee Samantha Bandy’s request to work while wearing a hijab, a head scarf worn by Muslim women for religious purposes. In addition, the EEOC alleges that the diner constructively discharged her because of her religion.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on religion and retaliation for opposition to discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Blue Moon Diner, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00567) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

“We will vigorously prosecute cases of religious discrimination throughout our district, including claims that involve the employer’s refusal to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religious beliefs,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “We are particularly concerned when the accommodation requested is easy to provide and the employer appears to have reacted to myths or stereotypes about a religion.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order the employer to provide Bandy with appropriate relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any further religious discrimination. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent religious discrimination in the workplace.

EEOC District Director Elizabeth Cadle said, “We will not tolerate discrimination against employees who simply request the right to work with reasonable accommodation of their religion.”

The EEOC Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

“Regarded As” ADA Suit Against Device Maker

Firing or denying someone an employment opportunity because you think they are disabled is just as much a violation of the law as if the person actually disabled.

And because this employer allegedly fell into that thinking, it’s now being hauled into court by the federal government.

IDEC  Corporation, a worldwide industrial device manufacturer, unlawfully fired an  employee at its East Dundee, Ill., location whom it regarded as disabled, the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed June 15.

The EEOC  alleges that IDEC committed unlawful disability discrimination when it fired Steven  Massie because of a perceived impairment. According to Julianne Bowman, the  EEOC’s district director in Chicago, the EEOC’s pre-suit administrative  investigation revealed that IDEC fired Massie because of the per­ceived  disabilities of sleep apnea and a heart condition.

Such alleged conduct violates  the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).   The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 18-cv-4168) in U.S. District Court  for the Northern District of Illinois after first attempting to reach a  pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v.  IDEC Corp., was assigned to U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman. The  EEOC’s lawsuit seeks both monetary and injunctive relief. The government’s  litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Bradley Fiorito and EEOC  Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.

“Terminating people who may or  may not have a disability because you fear that they do is unlawful for good  reasons,” said Bowman. “Our investigation revealed that Mr. Massie was fully capable  of working, but that IDEC took his job from him simply based on unfounded fears  and stereotypes regarding his supposed impairment.”

Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago,  added, “The EEOC takes discrimination based on an assumption of disability just  as seriously as discrimination based on an actual impairment. This is common and  harmful but an often overlooked form of discrimination that cannot be ignored.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office  is responsible for processing charges of discrimin­ation, adminis­trative enforcement  and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa  and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

EEOC: Mich. Restaurant Owner Abused Women

What was on the menu at this Michigan restaurant for its female employees is unacceptable.

Georgina’s, LLC, dba Georgina’s  Taqueria, an Asian and Latin “Fusion Cuisine” restaurant in Traverse City,  Mich., violated federal law by subjecting female employees to repeated sexual  harassment and retaliating against a female employee for opposing the  harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in  a lawsuit filed June 15.

According  to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Georgina’s owner repeatedly made lewd sexual comments to  a female sous chef. When she complained about them to a manager, the owner  stripped her of authority in the kitchen, changed her schedule and reduced her  hours. The sous chef then filed a written complaint documenting the harassment.  The owner terminated her 10 minutes later. Other female employees were also  subjected to offensive conduct by the owner, including inappropriate touching  of their buttocks, legs, chest and crotch areas, being kissed without consent,  being forced to sit on the owner’s lap, and being subjected to continual  commentary about how he wanted to have sex with them.

Such  alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits  sex discrimination (including sexual harassment) and retaliation for reporting  a claim against the discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 1:18-cv-00668  in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan) after first  attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process. The EEOC is seeking backpay, compensatory and punitive damages, and  injunctive relief.

“Owning a restaurant does not give  one special license to sexually harass female employees,” said Kenneth Bird, regional  attorney for the Indianapolis District Office. “The EEOC will continue to stand up to such behavior wherever it occurs – even in the small  kitchens of quiet lakeside cities like Traverse City.”

The Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis  District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

OSHA: Roofing Company Exposed Employees to Fall, Other Safety Hazards at Home Building Sites

This West Virginia roofing company will have to take the fall for not adequately protecting its workers from falling, according to federal safety officials.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Design Roofing LLC for exposing employees to fall and other safety hazards at residential construction sites in Scott Depot and Culloden, West Virginia. The company faces proposed penalties of $101,988.

OSHA inspected the two work sites after receiving complaints of employees working without proper fall protection. The Agency issued willful violations for the fall hazards, and serious violations for allowing employees to work within close proximity of an energized electrical conductor, and improper use of an extension ladder.

Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction, but they can be prevented if employers comply with fall protection requirements,”said OSHA Charleston Area Office Director Prentice Cline. “This employer’s disregard of required safety procedures leave employees vulnerable to hazards that can cause serious or fatal injuries.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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 ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

EEOC: Woman Harassed by Production Manager

Time to label June 13 sexual harassment lawsuit day, as the latest gusher of litigation by the federal government against employers that won’t rein in harrasers’ behavior continues.

G2 Corporation, doing business as Screen Tight, violated federal law by subjecting a female worker in the Patio Screen Door Fabrication warehouse in Corsicana, Texas to unwelcome physical and verbal sexual harassment at the hands of her production manager and another high-level corporate officer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on June 13.

According to the EEOC, in February 2016, the female employee, who was ordinarily a worker with responsibilities in the fabrication of screen doors, was directed by the production manager to clean the rest­rooms in the facility. The manager then followed her into both the men’s and women’s restrooms while making sexual comments and attempting to force himself on her. As she refused his advances and warded off his groping, the assault was interrupted when another female employee came into the area. On other occasions, the production manager had made vulgar and threatening comments to the female subordinate about her body, and what he intended to do with her sexually. The harassment victim said that the company vice president also made graphic, intimidating sexual comments to her. As a result of the sexual harassment and the direct role of management in creating the hostile environment, the employee felt she had no alternative but to leave.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (EEOC v. G2 Corporation d/b/a Screen Tight, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-01524-G), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Our case asserts that the production manager abused his power and authority with his lewd comments and unwanted sexual advancement against the female employee,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Joel Clark. “Managers, supervisors and company leaders have a responsibility to ensure that their workplaces are free of harassment and any other unlawful behavior.”

EEOC Dallas District Office Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added, “While sex harassment and aggression can occur in any workplace environment, white collar or blue collar, warehouse production facilities that are remote from corporate offices may increase the potential vulnerability of the workers. If a manager’s unlawful conduct is buttressed by the behaviors of fellow managers or officers, a woman may feel forced to make an untenable choice – to either put up with the sexual misconduct at the risk of her own safety or give up her income. That is a choice no one should ever be forced to make.”

G2 Corporation d/b/a Screen Tight is a privately held company headquartered in Georgetown, S.C. Screen Tight manufactures and installs patio screen doors and other outdoor screening systems. The company has facilities in South Carolina, Monterrey, Mexico, and Corsicana, Texas.

On Monday, the EEOC reconvened its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace for a meeting at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. Established in 2015, the task force concluded its work in June 2016 with the final report of its co-chairs, EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum and Commissioner and now-Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. The report includes recommendations and resources regarding leadership, accountability, policies and procedures, training, and developing a sense of collective responsibility. Monday’s meeting delved into workplace harassment in light of the #MeToo movement, and discussed how employers can and have worked to better prevent and stop harassment.

Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is also one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).