EEOC Addresses Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation

In response to an increase in disability discrimination charges it has received, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a document titled “Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA) to restate its policy on the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

The document early on states that “some employers may not know that they may have to modify policies that limit the amount of leave employees can take when an employee needs additional leave as a reasonable accommodation” for a disability.

The document goes on to explain:

The purpose of the ADA’s reasonable accommodation obligation is to require employers to change the way things are customarily done to enable employees with disabilities to work. Leave as a reasonable accommodation is consistent with this purpose when it enables an employee to return to work following the period of leave.

You can read the full document by clicking on the underlined link in the first paragraph.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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EEOC to Host Executive Leadership Conference Sept. 19-20

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold its Executive Leadership Training Conference (ELC) on Sept. 19-20 at the Washington Renaissance Hotel in Washington, the federal agency announced.

This year’s ELC theme is: Leadership Through Times of Transition: Flexibility Meets Precision.  Leaders who are flexible and able to adapt to change are successful during any presidential transition process and change of administration. The ELC training provides participants with skills to successfully navigate change and prepare for the new incoming presidential administration in January 2017. Registration and exhibitor information is available online.

The ELC meets the professional development needs of senior leaders in the field of equal employment opportunity (EEO) and diversity and inclusion (D&I). Training will address key leadership competencies during times of transition; personal development and critically important topics vital to the success of current and future executives — particularly senior EEO officials for federal, state and local governments; private sector EEO executives; HR executives with responsibility for managing and implementing an EEO program; as well as those striving to attain senior-level positions.

“ELC is a cost-effective and modest investment in the executive leadership skills necessary to run a successful EEO program,” said Carlton M. Hadden, director of EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. “This training will directly address core leadership competencies, ensuring that EEO professionals have the executive training necessary to meet the challenges of our profession.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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OSHA Wants to Hear from You

The Department of Labor (DOL) is challenging inventors and entrepreneurs to help develop a technological solution to workplace noise exposure and related hearing loss.

The DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), have launched the “Hear and Now — Noise Safety Challenge” with the dual goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation.

Every year, 22 million workers risk losing their hearing from workplace noise hazards. Hearing loss disability costs businesses an estimated $242 million annually in workers’ compensation.

Idea submissions are due by Sept. 30. Ten finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges on Oct. 27 in Washington D.C. The event will feature investors, representatives of the NIOSH Research to Practice Program and representatives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The competition is open to all ideas related to occupational hearing protection. Suggested topics include:

  • Technology that will enhance employer training and improve effective use of hearing protection.
  • Technology that alerts workers when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss.
  • Technology that allows workers to hear important alerts or human voices while remaining protected from harmful noise.

More information and a link to submit ideas can be found at https://www.dol.gov/featured/hearing.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Supreme Court Blocks Transgender Bathroom Choice

The U.S. Supreme Court has placed a temporary hold on a lower court order that okayed free choice of bathroom usage by transgender individuals.

The action follows a ruling last week by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that voided the transgender rights interpretation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). That court said only Congress or the Supreme Court could reinterpret the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend protected status to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

Now the Supreme Court has spoken and thus far has not endorsed the EEOC’s interpretation.

In the case under review, the nation’s highest court didn’t issue a final, binding rule, but in a 5-to-3 vote remanded the issue back to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, which earlier had ruled that 17-year-old transgender student Gavin Grimm, who was born a girl, could use the boys’ bathroom at school.

The Obama administration this spring ordered the nation’s public schools to allow transgender students to have free bathroom choice. So far, 23 states have sued to overturn the ruling.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Aetna Calls Off Plan for ACA Expansion, Citing $300 Million in Losses This Year

Aetna has joined UnitedHealth Group and Humana in reconsidering — and even pulling back — its participation in Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance marketplaces. Facing up to $300 million in ACA policy losses this year, Aetna announced it has canceled a planned expansion into five new state exchanges for 2017.

Also on the tablet are pullbacks in the 15 states Aetna currently services with ACA policies.

“We will look at the financial performance of the business over time, its trajectory and volatililty” market by market, announced Aetna CEO Mark T. Bertolini.

The insurer said it lost $200 million on ACA policies in the second quarter alone and expects the yearly loss to be $300 million or more.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Subway Teams with WHD to Monitor Wage and Hour Issues

Subway, a DBA of Doctor’s Associates Inc., has reached an agreement dated Aug. 1 with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) to “ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” at its U.S. franchises.

The agreement notes that Subway has partnered with WHD since 2012 to educate franchisees on adhering to the wage, hour and labor standards of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and will continue to look to WHD to provide training and educational resources.

Subway will share employment data with WHD and will hold quarterly meetings as part of the agreement in an effort to “generate new ideas for enhancing FLSA compliance throughout Subway stores in the United States.”

Read the Aug. 1 “Voluntary Agreement.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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EEO-1 Notifications Mailed Out; Surveys Due Back by Sept. 30

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has completed mailing its 2016 EEO-1 Survey notification letters.

The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report.  The filing of the EEO-1 report is not voluntary and is required by federal law, Section 709(c), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; and §1602.7-§1602.14, Title 29, Chapter XIV, of the Federal Code of Regulations.  The annual filing deadline is Sept. 30

The EEO-1 report provides valuable employment data by race/ethnicity, gender and job categories, and is used by researchers, private attorneys, human resource staff, et al., in developing affirmative action plans, and in the commission’s enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Employers who meet the criteria listed above, or employers that filed the EEO-1 report in 2015 and have not received the 2016 EEO-1 notification letter by Aug.15, 2016, should immediately contact the EEO-1 Joint Reporting Committee at (877) 392-4647 (toll-free) or e-mail to: e1.techassistance@eeoc.gov.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Federal Court Rules Against EEOC’s Interpretation of Title VII

In a sharp rebuke to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and its finding that the sex discrimination provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers gender identity and sexual orientation, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has ruled that only Congress or the Supreme Court can extend that protection.

“Kimberly Hively has failed to state a claim under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for sex discrimination,” the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held in its decision in Hively’s appeals. “[H]er claim is solely for sexual orientation discrimination, which is beyond the scope of the statute.”

In making the ruling, the federal court cited legal precedent set by district courts from 1984 on that anti-LGBT discrimination is not covered by Title VII.

“Perhaps the writing is on the wall,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote of LGBT protections, but concluded: “Until the writing comes in the form of a Supreme Court opinion or new legislation, we must adhere to the writing of our prior precedent.”

The ruling covers only the states that the 7th Circuit Court represents, but it sets up a potential Supreme Court showdown.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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I-9 Fines to Jump Upward Along with Other Federal Penalties

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have published final rules that will raise monetary penalties for Form I-9 and H-1B violations dramatically beginning Aug. 1.

The penalty structure for I-9 violations will rise from $110-to-$1,100 per instance to $216-to-$2,156. H-1B application violation fines will go from $1,000 per to $1,782.

The fines are being adjusted for inflation under the terms of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

Employers can be fined under the new structure for violations dating back to Nov. 2, 2015, so long as the assessments are issued on or after Aug. 1.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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EEOC Launches Outreach on Religious Discrimination

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Jenny Yang and Commissioner Charlotte Burrows participated in an inter-agency briefing at the White House and then announced the release of a one-page fact sheet designed to help young workers better understand their rights and responsibilities under the federal employment anti-discrimination laws prohibiting religious discrimination. The fact sheet is available at EEOC’s Youth@Work website, which presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination.

Combating Religious Discrimination Today, a community engagement initiative coordinated by the White House and the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, brought together EEOC and other federal agencies to promote religious freedom, challenge religious discrimination, and enhance efforts to combat religion-based hate violence and crimes.

Additionally, in an effort to improve the information available about religious discrimination, EEOC announced it will implement changes in the collection of demographic data from individuals who file charges with the agency. These changes will allow EEOC to collect more precise data about the religion of the individual alleging discrimination — allowing the agency, as well as the public, to recognize and respond to trends in charge data.

Finally, the EEOC said it plans to improve coordination with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which enforces the prohibition of religious discrimination in employment by federal contractors and subcontractors. EEOC and OFCCP will work together to develop joint outreach and education efforts concerning discrimination based on religion.

Religious discrimination remains an issue in the American workplace. In fiscal year 2015, the EEOC received 3,502 charges alleging discrimination on the basis of religion, with the top issues alleged being discharge, harassment, terms and conditions of employment, and reasonable accommodation.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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