Posts Tagged ‘Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’

Settlement Ends EEOC Suit Against Rehab Facility Over Refusal to Accommodate Pregnancy

Hopefully this employer and others in similar situations have learned their lessons about accommodation of pregnant workers.

PruittHealth-Raleigh, LLC will pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on Thursday. The EEOC charged that PruittHealth violated Title VII when it denied a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee with a medically imposed lifting restriction and then unlawfully required the employee to resign because of her pregnancy-related lifting restriction.

PruittHealth-Raleigh LLC, (PruittHealth) operates a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Raleigh, N.C. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, PruittHealth subjected Dominque Codrington, a certified nursing assistant, to disparate treatment by refusing to accommodate her pregnancy-related lifting restriction, while accommodating the restrictions of other non-pregnant employees who were injured on the job and who were similar in their ability or inability to work. The EEOC alleged that PruittHealth refused to accommodate Codrington and required her to involuntarily resign in lieu of termination.

Such alleged conduct violates Section 703(a) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000(e)-2(a), which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex (pregnancy) and requires employers to provide pregnant employees with the same reasonable accommodations as those provided to non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PruittHealth-Raleigh, LLC; Civil Action No 5:18-cv-00165) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process.

In addition to the $25,000 in damages, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that PruittHealth adopt, implement, and distribute a formal written policy that provides the opportunity for modified duty for pregnant employees with medically imposed, pregnancy-related work restrictions on the same basis that modified duty is provided to non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. PruittHealth also must provide annual training to its managers and supervisors at its Raleigh facility on the requirements of Title VII, specifically, the requirement that employers not take adverse employment actions against an employee based on her pregnancy.

“Employers must treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”

EEOC Kept Up Brisk Pace in 2018; 76,000 Plus Charges Handled, $505M Recovered for Victims

2018 was another very busy year at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC yesterday released detailed breakdowns for the 76,418 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received in fiscal year 2018. The comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2018, which ended Sept. 30, 2018, are posted on the agency’s website, which also includes detailed breakdown of charges by state.

The EEOC resolved 90,558 charges of discrimination.  Overall, the EEOC secured $505 million for victims in private sector, state and local government, and federal workplaces. The agency reduced the charge workload by 19.5 percent to 49,607. It achieved this through deploying new strategies to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit, more quickly resolve investigations, and improve the agency’s digital systems. The agency handled over 519,000 calls to its toll-free number, 34,600 emails and more than 200,000 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for the EEOC’s services.

You can read more about the breakdown of charges by bases alleged here.

Leaders Convene for Harassment Roundtable

Leaders of industries and associations convened this week in the nation’s capital to brainstorm on additional ways to curb workplace harassment.

Yesterday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) convened an “Industry Leaders Roundtable Discussion on Harassment Prevention.”  The Roundtable continues the EEOC’s efforts to lead harassment prevention efforts, including two Commission meetings and a Reconvening of the Select Task Force in the wake of the #MeToo movement.  The roundtable will inform strategies for the next generation of issues flowing from the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace in 2015, the task force Co-Chairs’ 2016 Report, and the #MeToo movement.

“The EEOC gathered these leaders to better understand the needs of the workers and employers in their industries and the wide range of solutions to prevent workplace harassment,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “The EEOC stands ready to help in the effort to change workplace cultures to be more respectful and inclusive,” added Lipnic.

EEOC Commissioner Charlotte A. Burrows stated, “Today’s roundtable discussion is an important step in furthering the Commission’s goal of ending workplace harassment and implementing strategies to build on the work of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.  I am pleased to have the thoughtful input from so many different industries, and I will continue to work to ensure the Commission remains a valuable resource in this area.”

Representatives from a diverse group of industries and associations discussed challenges their members and the public face in addressing issues raised by the #MeToo movement.  Participants also shared strategies they have implemented to improve workplace culture and reduce harassment.

Rosanna Maietta, Executive Vice President of Communications & Public Relations of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and President of the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation, described the 5-Star Promise, a pledge to provide hotel employees with employee safety devices and to adopt enhanced policies, trainings and resources to improve hotel safety, including preventing and responding to sexual harassment and assault.

Andy Brantley, President and CEO of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, shared that “we cannot simply ‘train away’ harassment.  Training and heightening awareness will always be important, but we must be committed to creating and sustaining workplace cultures that do not tolerate harassment in any way, shape or form.”

Stephanie Martz, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Retail Federation, explained that “retailers recognize that training and a company culture of respect and inclusion are critical to effective prevention and compliance efforts.”  She noted one challenge her organization and its members have identified is the importance of tailoring training to address the unique realities of the retail workplace.

Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, emphasized that “harassment is interconnected with the lack of diversity and inclusiveness in our industry.”  As a result, his organization surveys members to understand the scope of the harassment problem in their industry, and it has taken multiple steps to improve education by drafting model policies and a best practices guide.

James Banks, Jr., General Counsel of the Society for Human Resources Management, stated that his organization is providing human resource professionals with programming on workplace civility, inclusion, workplace investigations that can improve culture, and anti-harassment strategies.  Mr. Banks explained that “the #MeToo movement has been a call to action for organizational leaders to assess their workplaces to ensure they have a healthy culture and live that culture in all they do.”

The following industry and association representatives participated in the Roundtable:

  • Bob Carlson, President, American Bar Association
  • Rosanna Maietta, Executive Vice President of Communications & Public Relations of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and President, American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation
  • Stephen Dwyer, General Counsel, American Staffing Association
  • Andy Brantley, President and CEO, College & University Professional Association for Human Resources
  • Suzanne Beall, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy, International Franchise Association
  • James Rizzo, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary, National Association of Home Builders
  • William Dombi, President, National Association for Home Care & Hospice
  • Linda Kelly, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Board Secretary, National Association of Manufacturers
  • Stephanie Martz, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Retail Federation
  • Bobby Franklin, President and CEO, National Venture Capital Association
  • James Banks, Jr., General Counsel, Society for Human Resource Management
  • Arianne Massey, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America

The written statements that were submitted are available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/3-20-19/.

Digital Processing Update Coming From EEOC

Like so much of modern communications, interactions between the EEOC and other parties are increasingly occurring over digital transmissions.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Thursday issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update private sector procedural regulations to account for digital transmission of documents and communications between the EEOC and the parties. The proposed rule changes recognize the increasing reliance on digital technology by the EEOC and its stakeholders. This NPRM was posted by the Federal Register for public inspection today and will be published in the Federal Register on Feb. 22, 2019. Members of the public wishing to comment on the NPRM will have 60 days from the date of publication to do so, through www.regulations.gov.

The NPRM, approved by a unanimous vote of the Commission on Dec. 4, 2018, also includes a few other focused updates to the private sector procedural rules. The NPRM invites public comment on a pro­posal to more clearly communicate that a no-cause closure does not equate to a finding that the allegations in the charge are meritless, and to include similar language on EEOC’s “Dismissal and Notice of Rights.” The NPRM also proposes to clarify the filing deadline for charges filed in locations where a state or local fair employment practices agency exists but does not have jurisdiction over the statutory basis for a charge. Finally, the NPRM would allow office directors in the field to delegate authority to issue a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” with established procedures and quality standards to support increased efficiencies.

“The EEOC’s digital charge system makes the EEOC more accessible and more transparent to the public,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “We encourage the public to provide candid feedback on these updates to our procedural rules as part of the agency’s move to online services.”

Furniture Retailer Revises Criminal Background Check Policies in Settlement With the EEOC

Civil rights enforces frown on policies that automatically bar anyone with a criminal conviction from getting a job.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Rooms To Go, a larger furniture retailer, have reached a voluntary conciliation agreement to resolve allegations of race discrimination raised by an unsuccessful black applicant whose offer of employment was rescinded as a result of Rooms To Go’s background check policies, the federal agency announced Sept. 24. The agreement reflects the company’s implementation of revised policies and practices to ensure that its pre-employment screenings comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII).

The cooperative agreement acknowledges Rooms To Go’s proactive changes to its hiring and screening policies. Rooms To Go’s revised policies and practices remove any blanket exclusions for criminal conviction from its screening policies, affording all applicants an opportunity for an individualized assessment. The agreement also reformed Rooms To Go’s employment application by removing criminal conviction questions and postponing inquiries about criminal history until later in the hiring process. These changes will ensure that applicants will be judged by their qualifications first, rather than screened based on criminal history questions on the application. Delaying any consideration of criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment gives applicants a fair chance at employment and an opportunity to explain their criminal history.

In addition, Rooms To Go will provide training on its revised criminal background procedures to the appropriate personnel. All human resource staff, along with other essential employees, will be required to take mandatory implicit bias training and annual refresher training. “We obtained financial relief for the victim of discrimination and eradicated a barrier for future applicants,” said EEOC Tampa Field Office Director Evangeline Hawthorne. “We are pleased that Rooms To Go chose to work with the EEOC to reach this conciliation agreement and that through our joint efforts we have been able to bring about real change at Rooms To Go.”

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.

Va. Employer Sued for Breaching Mediation Agreement Under EEOC’s ADR Program

Don’t stiff the EEOC on your obligations under a mediation agreement. You’ll wind up in the same courtroom you tried to avoid by entering the agreement.

Transmodal Solutions, LLC, a Washington State limited liability corporation that conducts business in Norfolk, Virginia, breached a mediation agreement entered into as part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, the agency charged in a lawsuit filed June 6.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Sharona Harris filed an EEOC charge against Transmodal Solutions, and they accepted the EEOC’s offer to mediate the charge through the EEOC’s voluntary ADR program. The complaint alleges the parties entered into a mediation agreement on October 24, 2017. Under the agreement Transmodal Solutions was required to pay Harris $18,420 to settle her claim of employment discrimination. The settlement monies were to be paid in full by March 2018. The EEOC alleges that as of the filing of the complaint, Transmodal Solutions has not made payment to Harris, thereby breaching its obligations under the mediation agreement.

The case (EEOC v. Transmodal Solutions, LLC, Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-00303-RGD-LRL) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division. The EEOC sued after first attempting to obtain voluntary compliance with the agreement from Transmodal Solutions.

“The ADR program is integral to the EEOC’s enforcement program and provides an opportunity for early resolution of many EEOC charges,” said Kara Gibbon Haden, acting regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The EEOC takes the agreements reached through the program very seriously.”