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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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07 Feb 2014 EEOC Releases Detailed FY 2013 Statistics Showing Highest Monetary Recovery in Agency History

As we previously reported, the EEOC issued its Performance and Accountability Report for FY 2013 in December, which in part summarized the agency’s activity from October 2012 through September 2013. As promised in December, the agency has released more detailed charge and litigation statistics for its FY 2013 activity, providing better insight into what is on its radar (and what employees are complaining about). Data tables provide detailed breakdowns for intake and resolution of charges, in addition to initiated and resolved litigation. A summary of…

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03 Jan 2014 The Importance and Limitations of Internal Investigations

Many companies pride themselves on maintaining and rigorously enforcing equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies. From a business perspective, EEO policies help ensure a company is regarded as a fair place to work – improving employee morale and productivity. From a legal perspective, strong EEO policies (a) help protect the company from discrimination, harassment or retaliation claims by identifying and (hopefully) resolving problems ahead of costly litigation; (b) force the company to create a record of its position with respect to an employee’s claims and the…

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31 Dec 2013 EEOC Measures its Performance in FY 2013

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for Fiscal year 2013. The report summarizes the agency’s activity and assessment of its financial performance from October 2012 through September 2013. It reveals some interesting details about the agency’s work this past year. Highlights from the EEOC’s report include the following: 1. The agency received a total of 93,272 private sector charges of discrimination, a 6,000 charge decrease from the prior three fiscal years. 2. 97,252 charges were resolved, nearly…

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23 Dec 2013 Seventh Circuit: Failure to Conciliate is Not a Defense in EEOC Lawsuits

Employers who are defendants in actions brought by the EEOC in federal court cannot assert failure to conciliate as an affirmative defense, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled. In so doing, the Seventh Circuit is the first federal circuit court of appeal to explicitly reject the failure-to-conciliate defense, the Court noted in its lengthy opinion released Friday. In determining a question of law brought up on an interlocutory appeal, the Seventh Circuit ruled in EEOC v. Mach Mining, LLC that…

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18 Dec 2013 Criminal Background Checks Remain on EEOC’s Radar

Although not an official opinion or interpretation, the EEOC just released discussion letters giving another peak behind the curtain as to the agency’s stance on criminal background discrimination. Answering the letter of an incarcerated veteran who anticipated having a tough time finding employment upon his release, the EEOC, through its Assistant Legal Counsel, reiterated that “[e]xcluding people from employment due to criminal records may raise issues under Title VII, especially if it disproportionately harms people of a particular race or national origin.” While not banning the…

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06 Dec 2013 Don’t Forget About Potential Associational Claims

At this point, most employers (we hope) are well aware that the ADA prohibits discrimination against “qualified individuals with a disability.” Nevertheless, many employers may not realize that the ADA also protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on their relationship or association with an individual who has a disabling condition. According to the EEOC, the purpose of the association provision of the ADA is to “prevent employers from taking adverse actions based on unfounded stereotypes and assumptions about individuals who associate with people who…

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26 Nov 2013 GINA: Much Ado About Nothing?

Earlier this year it was reported that the EEOC had filed two lawsuits against employers, one in New York and the other in Oklahoma, for violating the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by requesting family medical information from employees.  GINA, which became law over five years ago, prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information, and specifically makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate, refuse to hire or discharge any employee because of the employee’s genetic information. After GINA went into effect, there was…

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07 Nov 2013 What About the Dads? Does Your Paternity Leave Policy Discriminate?

Paternity leave advocates have found a new poster boy, as CNN reporter Josh Levs has filed an EEOC charge of sex discrimination against CNN’s parent company, Time Warner. Levs, whose wife just had a child, claims that Time Warner’s parental leave policy discriminates against biological fathers. The policy in question grants 10 weeks of paid leave to women who give birth and to both men and women who become parents through adoption or surrogacy. However, the policy only provides two weeks of paid leave to…

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23 Oct 2013 A Quick Reminder Regarding Complaints in the Workplace

Last year we reported on a landmark EEOC decision where the Agency concluded that discrimination against transgender individuals is actionable under Title VII. In that case, the EEOC held that Title VII prohibits an employer from taking adverse action based on the fact an employee/applicant fails to “adhere” to gender-based expectations or norms. It remains to be seen whether courts will agree with the EEOC’s position, but the decision appears to suggest that the argument may be viable in some jurisdictions. There’s another angle to…

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17 Oct 2013 Hope for Employers Who Have Ever Felt Bullied by the EEOC

A recent order from an Atlanta federal court should give hope to all employers who have ever felt bullied by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In EEOC v. HomeNurse, Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-2927, a former employee filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that HomeNurse discriminates against disabled persons, persons who are 40 years old or older, persons with pre-existing genetic conditions and African Americans.  Oddly, though, the former employee was none of these things. She was not disabled, was under 40, had no genetic…

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