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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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08 Jul 2013 Employers Should Use Care to Avoid Discrimination When Using Temporary Staffing Agencies

Employers that use staffing agencies to fill temporary work assignments should be prepared to meet the challenges inherent in such relationships for purposes of compliance with Title VII, as illustrated by the EEOC’s litigation against a small manufacturer in Illinois. Although the Illinois manufacturer claimed it was not subject to Title VII because it had fewer than the statutory minimum 15 employees, the EEOC argued that temporary employees needed to be counted. The EEOC contended that the employer should be held liable if the actions…

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25 Jun 2013 Supreme Court Endorses Narrow Definition of “Supervisor” in Discrimination Claims

On Monday, June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court provided clarity for lower courts and employers when it ruled that an employer may be vicariously liable for a supervisory employee’s harassment (to the extent that it did not culminate in a tangible adverse employment action) only when the employer has empowered the employee to take tangible employment actions against the alleged victim of the harassment. And in the process, the Court soundly rejected the EEOC’s enforcement guidance as “nebulous” and unpersuasive. While the ruling in Vance…

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18 Jun 2013 EEOC Makes Good On Its Promise To Rekindle Disparate Impact Claims: Files Lawsuits Against Dollar General and BMW

You can’t say that we didn’t warn you.  Last week, the EEOC made good on its promise to protect those adversely affected because of criminal background checks. The EEOC filed two lawsuits – one in federal court in Chicago against the national small-box retailer, Dollar General; and another in South Carolina against BMW. These lawsuits appear to be the first lawsuits filed by the EEOC since it issued its criminal background check enforcement guidance in April of 2012 – and the first since issuing its…

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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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22 May 2013 Hot Topic: The Use of Criminal Records to Make Hiring Decisions

Medical testing giant Quest Diagnostics Inc. (42,000 employees worldwide) recently found out the hard way that government agencies across the country are ramping up enforcement of state and federal laws restricting the use of criminal convictions when making hiring decisions. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) uses Title VII’s prohibition against disparate impacts against employees relating to race or national origin to investigate companies’ hiring policies in relation to criminal records, many states, such as New York, have laws specifically limiting the use of…

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17 May 2013 EEOC Offers Updated ADA Guidance Q&A’s Pertaining to Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy and Intellectual Disabilities

In a measure to keep up with the changes made by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) in relation to what employees and applicants must show to establish that they have a “disability,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revised its informal “Question and Answer” guidance forms pertaining to four categories of medical conditions – cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities – to provide clarification as to how employers should address such conditions and to confirm that individuals having each of the types…

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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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