Posts Tagged ‘temporary workers’

Employer Inflexibility on Attendance Policy Violated ADA, EEOC Charges in New Lawsuit

Another employer has tripped over its my-way-or-the-highway attendance policy, federal civil rights enforcers charge.

Medtronic, Inc., a Minneapolis-based company that develops and manufactures medical devices, violated federal law when it terminated April Jackson, a temporary employee, from its Greenwood, S.C., facility because of her disability-related absences, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Monday. The EEOC further charged that the company failed to provide a reasonable accommodation to Jackson and refused to directly hire Jackson because of her disability.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Jackson was placed to work at Medtronic’s Greenwood facility as a forklift driver / waste hauler by a temporary staffing agency on Oct. 3, 2016. The EEOC said Medtronic required temporary employees to follow the company attendance policy. Jackson, who was born with one kidney and an under-formed bladder, missed work due to health issues caused by her disability. The EEOC said that on Feb. 10, 2017, Jackson returned to work following a disability-related absence for which Jackson presented a doctor’s note. Medtronic terminated Jackson’s assign­ment that same day, asserting that Jackson was in violation of its attendance policy. The EEOC further alleges that Medtronic did not hire Jackson as a permanent employee because of her disability, despite being in the process of doing so prior to her termination.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (EEOC v. Medtronic, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:19-cv-02100-HMH-TER) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process. The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

“Not only does the ADA protect employees, including temporary employees, from disability discrimination in the workplace, it places an affirmative requirement on employers to explore accom­modations to their generally applicable employment policies, such as attendance policies,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “An employer simply cannot ignore an employee’s need for a reasonable accommodation of a disability, choosing instead to fire the employee.”

Power Failure: Utility Liable for Harassment, Retaliation Involving Woman, EEOC Alleges

This temporary worker who allegedly suffered sexual harassment and retaliation from her assigned company has an ally in the Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission.

Charleston,  W.V.-based Appalachian Power Company, an electric utility company, violated  federal law when it subjected a contract administrative assistant to sexual  harassment and then fired her for complaining about it, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it announced on August 27.

According to the suit, the  contract administrative assistant began working in Appalachian Power Company’s  accounting department at its Clinch River facility in November 2016. Not long  after she started, her supervisor subjected her to repeated sexual harassment,  such as making unwelcome comments about her body, expressing his physical  attraction to her, telling her that he loved her and that he wanted to leave  his wife for her, and scrutinizing her interactions with co-workers. The  administrative assistant told him she was not interested in a relationship,  but the supervisor continued to harass her, once telling her, “You can get me  in a lot of trouble, but I know you would not do that because I’ll pull rank  and terminate you.” Because the employee objected to his unwelcome harassment,  the supervisor abruptly discharged her, the EEOC says.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the  Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on sex. Title VII  also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose sexual  harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Appalachian Power Company, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00035) in  U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division,  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its  conciliation process.

“No worker, whether a  permanent or temporary employee, should be forced to endure egregious sexual  harassment in order to make a living, or suffer retaliation for opposing the  harassment,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R.  Williamson added, “The EEOC stands ready to protect the rights of employees to  refuse unwelcome sexual advances. Employers should take action to root out  sexual harassment, not punish workers who complain about it.”

The EEOC’s Pittsburgh Area  Office is one of four offices in the agency’s Philadelphia District Office,  which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and  parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District  Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of  Virginia.

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.

Snack Food Maker Hit With $2M Award for Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations

It’s the latest sign that the federal government is cracking down on employers and their staffing agencies for not complying with the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

More than 600 temporary line workers at J&J Snack Foods Corp. will share more than $2.1 million in back wages and liquidated damages for the company’s minimum wage and overtime violations, the U.S. Department of Labor announced on October 27.

J&J’s products include baked goods under the Country Home Bakers, Mary B’s and SuperPretzel brand names, and frozen food products under the ICEE, Luigi’s, Slush Puppie, Minute Maid Juice Bars and WholeFruit labels. Its products are sold nationwide at stadiums and arenas; department, chain and convenience stores; discount and warehouse clubs; theme parks; movie theatres; schools and colleges; and retail supermarkets.

The department’s most recent investigation found 465 workers at J&J’s Swedesboro facility provided by staffing firm Sebastian and Sebastian LLC were paid straight time for overtime hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, in violation of federal law. In response, J&J agreed to pay a total of $1,260,254 in back wages and liquidated damages to these workers.

Two hundred and twelve temporary workers  at the J&J facility in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, will receive $920,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to make them whole for not being denied the federal minimum wage and overtime.

J&J and the staffing agencies were joint employers because “the economic realities show that [the workers] are economically dependent on — and thus employed by — another entity involved in the work,” the DOL said

More details on the case are available here.

OSHA Issues Safety Tips for Temporary Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a set of recommended practices to ensure that workplaces are safe for temporary employees. The agency emphasized that all workers are entitled to a safe workplace, regardless of where they work and whether the job is permanent or temporary.

Cooperation and collaboration between temporary staffing agencies and the employer hosting the worker is key to ensuring a safe workplace, the document says.

The recommendations include:

  • evaluate the host employer’s worksite;
  • train staffing agency staff to recognize safety and health hazards; and
  • ensure the employer meets or exceeds the other employer’s standards.

Read the document here.

OSHA Temporary Worker Project Gains Steam

The plight of the temporary workforce is on regulators’ radar screen, especially at the agency whose mission it is to ensure that workers are not injured on the job.

You’ll recall that in 2013 I wrote about a new initiative by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure that temporary workers are protected from workplace hazards and injuries. Today I can report that OSHA has taken several steps to advance this initiative.

First, in March the agency issued guidance in the form of a recordkeeping bulletin explaining staffing agency and host employer requirements for recording temporary worker injuries and illnesses. You can link to the bulletin from this website.

Second, last Friday OSHA held  a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health’s Temporary Worker workgroup.

NACOSH was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to advise the secretaries of labor and health and human services on occupational safety and health programs and policies.

Check back here for new developments on this topic.


Employer Settles EEOC Suit Alleging Complicity in Temporary Agency’s Hiring Practices

Employers can be held responsible for discriminatory hiring practices of temporary agencies on which they rely to fill vacancies, the EEOC reminded businesses this week.

The reminder came in the EEOC’s announcement that an Illinois manufacturing company had settled a Title VII sex discrimination lawsuit stemming from its failure to hire any women referred for temporary positions at its plant in Marseilles, Illinois.

Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay the charging party $27,682 and make other changes to its recruitment practices.

EEOC also said the company had argued that it was not a Title VII “employer” because it had fewer than 15 employees at the time of the alleged violation, excluding temporary workers.

But temporary workers can be counted toward the 15 employees needed for coverage, the EEOC said.

You can read more about the settlement here.