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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Sep 2012 EEOC Educates Teens About Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace

Do you employ teenagers? Then take note: the EEOC just announced new discrimination and harassment prevention efforts aimed at students who are about to enter the workforce. Specifically, the EEOC, through its Youth@Work initiative, created a video and supplemental classroom guides to help students identify situations and actions that may amount to discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Employers who recruit and hire teens need to be aware that the EEOC is placing special focus on this demographic. Further, the EEOC’s announcement is a reminder that employers should emphasize – especially to those who are new to the workforce – that all…

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17 Sep 2012 To Avoid Employer Liability for Harassment, Keep an Eye on “Supervisors”

The United State Supreme Court on Friday set oral arguments for Nov. 26, 2012, in Vance v. Ball State University, Docket No. 11-556, in which the Court is expected to address the issue of who is a “supervisor” for purposes of employer liability for sexual harassment under Title VII. The question highlights a split among federal circuit courts of appeal on the definition of supervisors, and we provided additional details on the facts of the case in our prior blog entry when the Court granted the petition…

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12 Sep 2012 Unverified EEOC Filing Not Good Enough, Says Northern District of Indiana

As many employers know, before proceeding to court, Title VII discrimination lawsuits must first be filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) or a parallel state agency.  Aiming to protect employees by ensuring that a charging party is at least willing to make his or her claims subject to the penalties for perjury, federal statutory law further requires that the agency charge be filed “in writing under oath or affirmation[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b). It is this less well known requirement that recently tripped…

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05 Sep 2012 EEOC Releases Its Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan Discussing Key Priorities for Fiscal Years 2012-2016

As part of its broader Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a draft Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for Fiscal Years 2012-2016, setting forth its primary priorities for the coming years, and seeks public commentary on same prior to voting on the SEP at the end of September 2012. The SEP, which can be found here, discusses the EEOC’s history, composition, and responsibilities, as well as the background events giving rise to the development of the SEP in…

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04 Sep 2012 OFCCP Audits Focus on Veteran Hiring

Although the new veterans hiring rules have been delayed, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will focus its audits in aggressively interpreting the current regulations to support the affirmative action policies. The OFCCP has proposed new rules for veterans that would require contractors to track those who apply for jobs and write reports explaining decisions not to hire protected veterans. However, these proposed regulations have been delayed for at least nine months. Despite the regulatory delay, the OFCCP will use the audits as…

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30 Aug 2012 The EEOC’s “Fall Tour”

The EEOC is hitting the road this fall on a cross-country tour aimed at demystifying the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).  Two of the EEOC’s commissioners, Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic, will hold a series of seminars dealing with issues such as essential job functions and job descriptions; the basics of reasonable accommodation; and leave, modified schedules and telecommuting as reasonable accommodations.  The dates and locations of the seminars are: Sept. 11 in Seattle (Doubletree Seattle Airport) Sept. 13 in Los Angeles (Four…

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27 Aug 2012 EEOC Sues Burger King Franchisee Over Employee’s Religious Accommodation Request

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing a Burger King franchisee – Fries Restaurant Management, LLC – for religious discrimination, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The facts underlying the lawsuit are straightforward: Ashanti McShan, a member of the Pentecostal Church, adheres to an interpretation of scripture regarding the wearing of clothing that is befitting of one’s gender. McShan allegedly informed Burger King of her religious belief during her employment interview, and was told she could wear a…

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16 Aug 2012 Indiana Plaintiff Defeats Legitimate Nondiscriminatory Reason Defense

A usually reliable defense in federal court employment cases is the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason, but recently, that defense turned out not to be enough in a sex discrimination claim. As a refresher, an employee who believes she was not selected for a given position because of her race or sex – or any other protected characteristic, for that matter – can establish a prima facie case of discrimination at the summary judgment stage using the commonly used McDonnell Douglas method.  To do so, she must…

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08 Aug 2012 EEOC’s Litigation Focus Includes Cases Involving Teen Workers

While the EEOC receives thousands of charges each year, it selects very few to go forward to litigation with EEOC as the plaintiff. It is no easy task to predict which specific charges will become lawsuits litigated by EEOC, but charges that involve allegations of discriminatory treatment against multiple individuals – including teen workers – seem to be among those that attract attention at the federal agency. A case in point is the recent resolution for $1 million of a federal court lawsuit that EEOC brought in Wisconsin…

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07 Aug 2012 EEOC General Counsel Discusses Drop in Systemic Case Filings, Announces New Priorities

As the EEOC anticipates filing fewer systemic cases in fiscal year 2012 than it did in FY 2011, it also will shift its priorities to hiring discrimination cases and cases involving vulnerable workers, according to recent statements by EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez. In discussing systemic case filings, Lopez attributed the drop to existing litigation and limited resources to take on new cases. The EEOC established its “Systemic Initiative” in 2006, defining systemic cases as “pattern or practice, policy and/or class cases where the alleged discrimination…

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