EEOC Seeks Public Input on National Origin Discrimination Enforcement

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has voted to release for public input a proposed enforcement guidance addressing national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC’s enforcement guidance documents express official agency policy and explain how the laws and regulations apply to specific workplace situations.

Title VII protects job applicants and employees from discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin, as well as retaliation because a person complained about discrimination or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Title VII prohibits employer actions that treat people unfavorably because of their national origin, including because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background.

In 2002, the EEOC last comprehensively addressed national origin discrimination. Since that time, there have been significant legal developments addressing national origin discrimination. The revised guidance addresses important issues, including job segregation, human trafficking, and intersectional discrimination.

“No person should face barriers to equal employment opportunity in America simply because of their ethnicity or country of origin,” said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang. “The EEOC has identified protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable populations as a national strategic priority. The Commission looks forward to hearing public input on the proposed enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination.”

In fiscal year 2015, approximately 11 percent of the 89,385 private sector charges filed with EEOC alleged national origin discrimination. These charges alleged a wide variety of Title VII violations, including unlawful failure to hire, termination, language-related issues, and harassment.

The draft guidance is available for review at https://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EEOC-2016-0004.


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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DOL Grants to Help Homeless Veterans Find Employment

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has announced the award of $36 million in Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants to help an estimated 17,000 veterans successfully transition to sustainable housing and good civilian jobs. The grants will fund a variety of services to assist homeless veterans in their return to the labor force including occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance.

“Veterans homelessness is a moral outrage and it hurts the economy as well,” said the secretary in announcing the grants at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ annual conference. “We know that America works best when we field a full team, and veterans are some of our most valuable players. When a lack of stable housing is keeping highly skilled veterans out of the workforce, we all lose out on their gifts and talents.”

Grants were awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, and faith-based and community organizations. HVRP is the only federal program focused exclusively on employment of homeless veterans. President Obama has proposed increasing funding for the HVRP program to $50 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget.

Many HVRP grant recipients’ awards will also include funding to allow them to target specific at-risk veteran populations. The Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program provides funding for services to expedite the reintegration of incarcerated or recently incarcerated veterans who are at risk for homeless into the labor force. The Homeless Female Veterans and Veterans with Families Program provides funding for services to expedite the reintegration of homeless female veterans and veterans with families into the labor force.


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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DOL, South Dakota Join Forces to Fight Misclassification

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation have signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) intended to protect employees’ rights by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other non-employee status. The two agencies will provide clear, accurate, and easy-to-access outreach to employers, employees, and other stakeholders, share resources, and enhance enforcement by conducting joint investigations and sharing information consistent with applicable law, according to a news announcement.

The WHD says it is working with the Internal Revenue Service and 29 other states to combat employee misclassification and to ensure that workers get the wages, benefits, and protections to which they are entitled. Labeling employees as something they are not –- such as independent contractors –- can deny them of basic rights such as minimum wage, overtime and a host of other benefits. Misclassification also generates substantial losses to the federal government and state governments in the form of lower tax revenues, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds.


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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UnitedHealth to Leave All But Six Obamacare States

With the announcement by Covered California that UnitedHealth Group Inc. would be exiting its Obamacare exchange in 2017, the role of the nation’s largest health insurer in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has now been reduced to six states.

UnitedHealth on Tuesday informed its brokers that “at this time, we have filed to offer On-Exchange products” in Nevada, New York and Virginia for 2017, according to today’s Wall Street Journal. In addition, the insurer’s Harken Health subsidiary will be offering policies on the exchanges in Georgia, Illinois and Florida on a “limited basis.”

Currently, UnitedHealth services about 795,000 Obamacare policyholders in 34 states.


For the full story on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) affects your business, no matter how large or small, please obtain a copy of our comprehensive yet easy-to-follow Affordable Care Act Compliance Kit.



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 Raises Non-Posting Penalty from $210 to $525

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is publishing a final rule tomorrow that raises penalties for violations of its posting requirements from $210 to $525, taking advantage of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The increase will take effect 30 days after publication, on July 2, 2016.

EEOC enforces the posting of notifications for Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA).

Though a strict inflationary adjustment would have increased the penalty to $725, the act limited increases to 150 percent of the last reported penalty ($210), or in this case $315. The two added together come to $525.

Read the Final Rule here.


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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11 States Sue Administration Over Transgender Bathroom Mandate

Following directives by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (DOE) detailing how public school bathrooms and locker rooms must be gender-neutral, 11 states have filed suit against the Obama administration to stop the mandate.

The lawsuit argues that the directive conspires “to turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

The states joining the action are Alabama, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah , Georgia and Texas.

Texas has already indicated publicly that it would be willing to forego its annual $10 billion in federal education aid rather than comply.


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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Insurers Seek Hefty 2017 Increases on Obamacare Policies

Stung by the reality of more older-sicker than younger-healthier customers signing up for their policies, Obamacare health insurers are seeking some whopping premium increases for 2017.

From what’s publicly available, for example, Humana in Georgia is seeking a 65.2 percent increase, according to today’s Wall Street Journal. In nearby Florida, Blue Cross and Blue Shield wants a relatively more modest 14 percent hike. Highmark in Pennsylvania falls in the middle at 38.4 percent.

Among rate requests that have been so far published, only Vermont shows a hike less than 10 percent.

Proposed rate hikes have to be approved by state regulators, so the final increases won’t really be known until the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges open for business on Nov. 1.


For the full story on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) affects your business, no matter how large or small, please obtain a copy of our comprehensive yet easy-to-follow Affordable Care Act Compliance Kit.



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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DOL Signs Alliance to Promote Employment of the Disabled

To promote inclusive workplaces that embrace the skills and talents of workers with disabilities, the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the Department of Labor (DOL)  has signed an alliance with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

The association is a non-profit membership organization that brings together university-based interdisciplinary programs and community resources to achieve meaningful change for people with disabilities in all aspects of society, including the workplace.

“Expanding the availability of resources and information on fostering an inclusive workforce is critical to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” said ODEP’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy. “Our partnership with AUCD will play an integral role in improving support for jobseekers and workers with disabilities nationwide.”

Since the inception of ODEP’s alliance initiative in 2006, the agency has engaged organizations to collaborate in developing and implementing model policies and initiatives that increase the recruitment, hiring, retention and career advancement of employees with disabilities. The new alliance will provide AUCD members with information, technical assistance and access to ODEP resources that will help them create workplaces that fully use the talents of employees with disabilities.


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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SCOTUS Sides with Trucking Company Against EEOC in Attorney’s Fees Award

A unanimous Supreme Court has overturned a circuit court’s decision throwing out the award of $4.5 million in attorney’s fees to a trucking company, which had won a class action sexual harassment lawsuit brought against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC brought the class action lawsuit against CRST Van Expedited Inc. to district court, alleging female employees had been sexually harassed or assaulted while on the job. The court threw out the lawsuit, however, because the agency never bothered to investigate or to reconcile its claims. The district court then awarded the prevailing party (the trucking company) $4.5 million in attorney’s fees, to be paid by the EEOC.

Upon review, the circuit court threw out the award because the prevailing party had not won on “the merits.” The Supreme Court disagreed, 8-0, and remanded the case back to the lower court.

“In cases like these, significant attorney time and expenditure may have gone into contesting the claim,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in delivering the opinion of the court. “Congress could not have intended to bar defendants from obtaining attorney’s fees in these cases on the basis that, although the litigation was resolved in their favor, they were nonetheless not prevailing parties.”


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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It’s Official: Overtime Exemption Threshold to Be $47,476 a Year

The Department of Labor (DOL) today will unveil its new overtime rule, setting an annual salary of $47,476 as the minimum compensation for an employee to be exempt from overtime pay. The current standard is $23,660.

Vice-President Joe Biden, who will be touting the new rule at a stop in Columbus, Ohio, today, said: “The middle class is getting clobbered. If you work overtime, you should actually get paid for working overtime.”

According to the DOL website, the new rule will:

  • Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.
  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.
  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.
  • Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

In today’s Final Rule, the DOL explains the steps to being declared exempt from overtime:

Since 1940, the implementing regulations have generally required each of three tests to be met for the exemptions to apply: (1) the employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed (the ‘salary basis test’); (2) the amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount (the ‘salary level test’); and (3) the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (the ‘duties test’).

Employers will have until Dec. 1 to implement the new standard.


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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