Posts Tagged ‘Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’

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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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.”

$105K Owed to Female Sales Rep at Calif. Company Who Was Paid Less Than Male Rep

It took a year for a California company to make good on its obligation to pay a female salesperson the same as her male counterpart.

Spec Formliners, Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif.-based business, will pay $105,000 and provide other relief to settle an equal pay lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Wednesday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, filed in November 2016, Spec Formliners paid a female sales representative less than a male sales representative in base pay. The EEOC also contended that the company required the female sales representative to sell more to earn the same commission as her male colleague.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit on Nov. 17, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Spec Formliners, Inc., Case No. 8:16-cv-02066-BRO-AJW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the consent decree settling the suit, Spec Formliners will pay $105,000 to the former employee. In addition to the monetary relief, Spec Formliners also agreed to retain external equal employment opportunity consultants who will assist the company in creating, reviewing and revising its policies and practices to ensure compliance with Title VII and the EPA. The external EEO consultants will also assist the company in conducting fair pay audits, reviewing and revising its recruitment practices, and preparing annual reports for the EEOC on the company’s progress. Spec Formliners further agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training and distribute the revised policies to all employees. The EEOC will monitor Spec Formliners’ progress with the 2.5-year decree.

“We commend Spec Formliners for agreeing to put measures in place that will help remove barriers for female sales representatives and ensure equal pay for equal work,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Orange County in its jurisdiction. “Employees will do their best work when they know that their efforts are fairly compensated.”

Rosa Viramontes, director of the agency’s Los Angeles District Office, added, “The changes that will be implemented as part of this settlement will ensure that female sales representatives will receive fair compensation for sales equal to those of their male counterparts. This not only benefits female employees, but also the company as a whole.”

According to the company’s website, www.specformliners.com, Spec Formliners creates and customizes form liner patterns for concrete projects.

DOL Budget Proposes EEOC/OFCCP Merger

President Trump is proposing a merger of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Both the OFCCP and the EEOC would be resident in the Labor Department under the proposal put forth in the DOL’s proposed budget. The blending might not be a comfortable fit considering that the two entities serve very different roles.

The EEOC investigate complaints it receives, while the OFCCP audits contractors in more systematic fashion and verifies that they take affirmative action to promote equal opportunity among their employees.

The administration argues that the merger “will reduce operational redundancies, promote efficiencies, improve services to citizens, and strengthen civil rights enforcement.”

U.S. House Subcommittee Hearing Raps EEOC Over Knuckles for “Overreach,” Wrong Priorities

Members of a U.S. House subcommittee took the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to task at hearing on Tuesday as part of its oversight of the commmission’s activities. Basically, the committee’s chair and witnesses criticized the EEOC for not paying enough attention to its obligation to enforce the law, and instead over-reaching, including asking for more pay data from employers.

Below is a text of a press release the subcommittee sent out about Tuesday’s oversight hearing,

The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the need for more responsible regulatory and enforcement policies at the EEOC, As part of the committee’s ongoing oversight efforts, members reviewed the agency’s overreach in recent years and highlighted opportunities to change course under new leadership.

“Republicans and Democrats agree our nation’s non-discrimination laws must be properly enforced, and the EEOC plays a critical role in doing just that,” Chairman Byrne said. “We wouldn’t be doing our job here in Congress if we didn’t hold the EEOC accountable when it has fallen short of its important responsibilities.”

Chairman Byrne expressed concern over the EEOC’s flawed enforcement efforts under the Obama administration, noting that, “At the end of 2016, the EEOC had more than 73,000 unresolved cases. Thousands of individuals were still waiting for answers on the discrimination charges they filed. This is completely unacceptable. These are men and women who turned to the federal government for help and got lost in an inefficient bureaucracy.”

Witnesses shared this concern and detailed the EEOC’s misplaces priorities.

“The agency’s self-imposed pressure to ‘fish’ for large, class-based claims has undermined the quality and effectiveness of its overall enforcement efforts and has distracted from ensuring that litigation remains an option of last resort,” said Rae Vann, vice president and general counsel for the Equal Employment Advisory Council.

Vann described the EEOC’s strategy as one based on “the assumption that widespread workplace discrimination is present in every district and region — and at every company — across the country.” She added that, “Rather than focusing on increasing its systemic litigation docket, the EEOC should do more on the front end to ensure that all discrimination charges it receives are properly categorized, investigated, and resolved.”

Instead of improving its enforcement efforts, the EEOC spent its time and resources pursuing misguided regulatory schemes. For example, witnesses highlighted the consequences of the EEOC’s expansive changes to the Employer Information Report EEO-1 under the Obama administration. The changes increased by 26 times — from 128 data points to 3,360 data points — the amount of employee information employers are required to file.

Lisa Ponder, vice president and global human resources director for MWH Constructors, Inc., questioned whether the agency can even use the information to identify pay discrimination in the real world.

“The number of women engineers in the baby boomer generation is approximately 5 percent in our industry, so we have very few senior women engineers,” she said. “However, the number of women engineers in the millennial generation is closer to 20 percent in our industry, so we have many more junior women engineers. There is no way to show that in reality we pay our senior engineers more than we pay those with much less experience.”

Ponder continued, “There will appear to be a pay differential based on gender when in fact the pay differential is based on years of experience … Not having the ability to counter the imbalance of the male-to-female ratio in the engineering field leads to a false narrative that could discourage women from pursuing a career in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.”

Camille Olson, a labor and employment attorney, echoed concerns over how the EEOC would even use the massive amount of new data from this overreaching regulatory regime.

“Despite the excessive burden imposed on employers, the EEOC failed to articulate a clear benefit associated with its proposed collection,” Olson said. “In addition to the problems inherent in the data that the EEOC proposes to collect, its proposed statistical approach will also be unhelpful in identifying discrimination.”

Olson also emphasized the need for stronger privacy protections for workers and employers, saying, “In the hands of the wrong people, the original pay data from the EEO-1 report could cause significant harm to EEO-1 responders and subject employees to potential violation of their privacy … Unfortunately, although it is statutorily required to do so, the EEOC has failed to set forth appropriate steps or protocols to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of EEO-1 data.”

In closing, Chairman Byrne called on the EEOC to turn its focus toward proper enforcement of non-discrimination policies.

EEOC Alleges Dollar Store Turned Other Way When Women Complained About Harassment

If you have ever been in a Dollar General store, you know how crowded it can be with shoppers seeking bargains. Maybe it would have been better at one of the company’s stores in Mississippi had there been more separation between her and her manager.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a female employee at the Dollar General store in Red Banks, Mississippi was repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual attention from the store manager.

The EEOC filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company on Wednesday.

The EEOC alleges that female employee alleged her  manager repeatedly made unwelcome comments and gestures, all of a sexual nature, toward her. He also sent her unwelcome text messages. This employee was not the first employee to complain about the store manager’s sexually harassing behavior. After a three-month-long investigation, the company suspended and then fired the store manager for “inappropriate conduct.”

That response wasn’t fast enough, in EEOC’s estimation. Other women working there had also been subjected to harassment.

“There is nothing ambiguous about the laws against sexual harassment. Managers may not subject their subordinates to such abuse in the workplace. Equally clear is the EEOC’s continued commitment to its mission of enforcing Title VII’s prohibition against sexual harassment, as well as other federal laws forbidding employment discrimination.”

Hopefully this kind of behavior isn’t occurring at other Dollar General stores. There are a lot of them. According to its website, Dollar General is one of the country’s fastest growing small-box discount retailers, with over 13,000 stores in 43 states.

Comments Sought on Harassment Guidance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking the public’s input on a new draft enforcement guidance on workplace harassment.

The draft guidance released on Tuesday the 10th is a product of a task force the commission convened in 2015 to analyze workplace harassment and identify innovative and creative prevention strategies.

Workplace harassment remains a problem. Here are the daunting statistics, according to the EEOC:

  • Between fiscal years 2012 and 2015, the percentage of private sector charges that included an allegation of harassment increased from slightly more than one-quarter of all charges annually to over 30% of all charges.
  • In fiscal year 2015, EEOC received 27,893 private sector charges that included an allegation of harassment, accounting for more than 31% of charges filed that year.
  • In the same year, federal employees filed 6,741 complaints alleging harassment – approximately 44% of complaints filed by federal employees that year.

We’re not just talking sexual harassment here. The data include charges of harassment based on national origin, religion, age, disability and genetic information.

You’ve got about a month to get your two cents in.

The proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment is available for input until Feb. 9, 2017 at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EEOC-2016-0009.

The task force was assembled, among other things, to study the “root causes” of harassment in the workplace.