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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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11 Oct 2013 Another Criminal Background Case, Another Blow To The EEOC

Earlier this week, a divided Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued another blow to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its pursuit of discrimination claims against employers and criminal background checks.  In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s award of $751,942 in attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and other litigation costs to Peoplemark, Inc. after the company produced thousands of documents refuting the allegation that it had a “blanket policy” of denying jobs to individuals with felony records.  (EEOC v….

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09 Oct 2013 Government Shutdown Continues And Enforcement Agencies Remain Closed

As we enter the second week of the government shutdown, the federal enforcement agencies remain closed. Among the closed enforcement agencies are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL). Each agency has prepared contingency plans during the course of the shutdown. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC) is currently closed, it has indicated that the time limits for filing a charge of discrimination will not be extended during the shutdown. Instead, claimants are encouraged to still file the charge during the closure and…

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04 Oct 2013 EEOC Cases Continue to Make Waves Despite Shutdown

While the EEOC is all but completely closed this week due to the federal government shutdown, that hasn’t stopped federal courts from issuing interesting rulings in EEOC employment discrimination cases. A quick roundup of a few recent cases of note: 1. The Circuit Court of Appeals this week issued a blow to EEOC when it addressed the extent to which an employer is responsible for offering a religious accommodation in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. The appellate court held that the lawsuit failed because the…

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13 Aug 2013 EEOC Not Faring Well in Background Check Disparate Impact Cases

The EEOC’s crackdown on the use of background checks has taken another body blow, this time delivered by federal Judge Roger Titus out of the District of Maryland. After a recent spate of adverse decisions in such cases (including cases against BMW Group and Kaplan Higher Education Corp.), national event planning company Freeman found itself in the agency’s cross-hairs. The opinion, granting Freeman summary judgment, can be found here.  While acknowledging that it is possible to prove a discriminatory disparate impact (here, against African-Americans and…

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09 Aug 2013 EEOC Hit With $4.7 Million in Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

On Aug. 1, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was ordered to pay $4.7 million in attorneys’ fees and costs in the litigation it brought against CRST Van Expedited (CRST) in 2007. In that litigation, the EEOC alleged that female workers had been sexually harassed by male employees and trainers. CRST challenged the sweeping sexual harassment claims brought by the EEOC and U.S. District Court Judge Linda R. Readle agreed, describing the EEOC’s tactics in identifying the class of female workers as a “moving…

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07 Jun 2013 Don’t Overlook The Gems In EEOC Files

A recent decision out of a Louisiana federal court demonstrates that all employers who are sued in cases where the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handled an administrative charge should promptly send out a FOIA request to obtain the EEOC’s file. In Williams v. Cardinal Health Systems 200, LLC, a female employee reported to her employer that her husband had gotten into a fistfight with one of her co-workers, allegedly because the co-worker was sending her inappropriate text messages. The employee was fired shortly thereafter…

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03 Jun 2013 EEOC Files Two Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Lawsuits in Two Weeks

The EEOC recently filed its first-ever lawsuit alleging a violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) – and subsequently filed its second GINA lawsuit one week later. The first lawsuit settled, with a fabrics distributor paying $50,000 and agreeing to take other specified actions (i.e. posting an anti-discrimination notice, among other things) after the EEOC alleged a violation of GINA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, with respect to GINA, the EEOC charged that the distributor violated the Act when it asked…

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14 May 2013 EEOC Seeks Comments on Quality Control Plan for Investigations and Conciliations

Last Friday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it was seeking public comment of its draft principles for the Quality Control Plan (Plan) which will revise the criteria for measuring the quality of the agency’s investigations and conciliations. The Plan was developed by an internal work group of EEOC front-line staff and managers, and addresses the issues of timeliness and quality. The EEOC stated the standard of review in assessing the quality of investigations and conciliations, nationally, will be “whether the actions…

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08 May 2013 Is the EEOC Set to Scrutinize Employer Wellness Programs?

On May 8, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hosted a meeting with a group of invited panelists on the treatment of wellness programs under federal law. According to the EEOC, the discussion will focus on various ways employer wellness programs may implicate the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and other anti-discrimination statutes enforced by the EEOC. Whether this is a beginning of a new enforcement initiative remains to be seen. Either way, employers should be mindful of potential pitfalls under…

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04 Apr 2013 ADA Charge Verified by Counsel Is Insufficient; Plaintiff Failed to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

In Davenport v Asbury, Inc, the plaintiff, Lori Davenport, brought several claims against her former employer, including an alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA). The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee dismissed Ms. Davenport’s ADA claim, holding that she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. The dismissal occurred as a result of a technicality wherein Ms. Davenport personally failed to verify the allegations set forth in her EEOC Charge of Discrimination, which must be filed prior to litigating any…

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