Wyatt Employment Law Report

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EEOC Boasts “Substantial Progress” of Systemic Program

By Courtney Ross Samford

Last week, the EEOC released a review of its efforts to combat systemic discrimination over the last decade.  The review, which comes on the 10th anniversary of its 2006 Systemic Task Force Report, boasts that the EEOC “has made substantial progress in building a systemic program that is strategic, nationwide, coordinated, and supported across the agency.”

According to Chair Jenny Yang, the “EEOC’s systemic program has opened up job opportunities for women in traditionally male industries, for African Americans and Latinos barred by background checks, workers with disabilities screened out by medical inquiries, and for older workers shut out by stereotyping” and “worked to remove discriminatory obstacles to equal opportunity and to institute promising practices in thousands of workplaces.”

The review notes that every district has initiated systemic investigations and lawsuits, and that investments in hiring and training have led to a 250 percent increase in systemic investigations over the last five years.  According to the EEOC, its systemic litigation program has Continue reading

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EEOC Issues New Resource Document Addressing Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Michelle Tolle High

EEOCOn May 9, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a new resource document addressing the rights of employees with disabilities who seek leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to the EEOC, the document does not create a new agency policy, but is a resource document explaining how existing EEOC policies and guidance apply to specific situations.  It is intended to consolidate the existing guidance on ADA and leave into one document, and to address issues that frequently arise regarding leave as a reasonable accommodation.  In addition, the document addresses undue hardship issues and the amount or length of leave required, the frequency of leave, the predictability of intermittent leave, and the impact of such leave on an employer’s operations.

The resource document provided by the EEOC indicates that some employers may not know that they have to modify existing policies that limit the amount of leave employees can take when an employee with a disability needs additional leave as a reasonable accommodation.  It also addresses the fact that Continue reading

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EEOC Weighs In On Bathroom Issue for Transgender Employees

By Michelle Wyrick

Following recent news reports about Target’s bathroom controversy and North Carolina’s bathroom law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued a Fact Sheet outlining its views on bathroom access rights for transgender employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  You can view the Fact Sheet here.

According to the EEOC, Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.  Consequently, denying a transgender employee access to a common restroom corresponding to the employee’s gender identity constitutes sex discrimination.  An employer cannot require an employee to provide proof of surgery or any other medical procedure in order to use a particular restroom.  Nor can an employer avoid the requirement to provide equal access to a common restroom by restricting a transgender employee to a single-user restroom (although an employer can make a single-user restroom available to all employees who choose to use it).  The hostility or discomfort of other employees cannot overcome the right of a transgender employee to use the restroom corresponding with his or her gender identity.  Moreover, contrary state law is no defense.  Sorry, North Carolina.

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Is It Time for an Internal Audit to See if Your Company’s Compensation is in Compliance with the Law? What We Can Learn From the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Suit

By Sharon L. Gold

wage increaseThis month, five members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team filed a wage disparity complaint with the EEOC against the U.S. Soccer Federation.  The Women’s team alleges that despite the fact that they are doing equal work, they are not receiving equal pay as the Men’s National Soccer Team.  The Women’s team alleges their top-tier players earn between 38% and 72% of their male counterparts, although the Women’s Team is more successful.  One article noted that in 2015, they were paid far less for winning the tournament than the men were paid to lose their tournament.  The EEOC will investigate the complaint and then make a decision as to the validity of the women’s claims.

The EEOC has jurisdiction over claims alleging discrimination in pay under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII, ADEA, and ADA.  The EPA requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work.  In order for jobs to be considered equal, they must be substantially equal.  In order to make this assessment, the EEOC looks to Continue reading

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EEOC Now Using An Online Charge System

By Michelle Wyrick

EEOCAiming to improve public service, ease the administrative burden on staff, and reduce the amount of paper submissions and files, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has begun using an online charge system. The new system allows an individual who has filed a charge of discrimination to check the status of the charge online. In addition, the system provides an overview of the steps that charges go through from intake to resolution and provides contact information for EEOC staff assigned to the charge. Employers can also obtain information about the status of pending charges and communicate with the EEOC through the new system. All EEOC offices now use a digital charge system in which employers transmit and receive documents regarding discrimination charges through a secure online portal.

The Online Charge Status System may be used for charges filed on or after September 2, 2015. The system cannot Continue reading

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Fourth Circuit to Review “Mark of the Beast” Religious Discrimination Case

By Elise C. Hofer

cross on hillConsol Energy has asked the Fourth Circuit to review a nearly $600,000 unanimous federal jury verdict in favor of a former employee’s Title VII claims of religious discrimination based on the company’s failure to accommodate his religious beliefs.  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Consol Energy, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-215 (N.D. W. Va. Aug. 21, 2015).  Plaintiff Beverly Butcher, who worked as a Consol mine worker for over 35 years, had requested an exemption from the mandated use of the company’s new biometric hand scanners, which were installed to track employees’ time and attendance.  Butcher, an Evangelical Christian, explained to his supervisors that he believed the scanning would create an identifier for followers of the Antichrist known as the “Mark of the Beast.”  Nevertheless, Consol required Butcher to use the scanners and refused to permit alternate means of tracking Butcher’s time, prompting him to resign from the company.

At trial and in post-trial motions, Consol Energy challenged the logic and consistency of Butcher’s religious beliefs.  In particular, Consol pointed out that Butcher’s own pastor did not agree that the hand scanners had Continue reading

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EEOC Files First Title VII Suits Alleging Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

By Michelle High

discriminationOn Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed two sex discrimination lawsuits in federal court that are premised upon the Commission’s position that sexual orientation discrimination is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The first lawsuit filed by the EEOC was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Scott Medical Health Center.  In the suit, the EEOC alleges that a gay male employee was subjected to harassment because of his sexual orientation and/or because he did not conform to the employer’s gender-based expectations, preferences, or stereotypes. The employee’s immediate supervisor knew that Continue reading