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How Can Employers Avoid the EEOC in 2017?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 2/14/2017
EEOC-equal-employment-diverse-workforce

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing a number of federal equal employment opportunity laws. Every year, the EEOC releases information about its enforcement and litigation efforts during the previous fiscal year. If 2016 is any indication, employers must be vigilant to avoid hearing from the EEOC in 2017.

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Nudge, Nudge. OSHA Revises Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/7/2016
workplace safety is important and OSHA wants to regulate any accidents

Did you know that each year there are more than 3 million serious (requiring more than first aid) workplace injuries and illnesses? Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide safe and healthy workplaces, the number of injuries and illnesses remains unacceptably high. To help combat this problem, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised various workplace safety regulations.

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Will You Be Hearing from the EEOC in 2016

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 1/13/2016
people_around_the_table_at_work

Should employers be concerned that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) achieved record enforcement results in 2015? Yes! Enforcement of federal equal employment opportunity laws is essentially a zero-sum game. If the EEOC is winning, employers must be losing, and according to the EEOC’s 2015 Performance Report, employers have been losing a lot.

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Categories: Human Resources, Risk Management

Understanding Your Equal Employment Opportunity Obligations

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 3/18/2015
EEOC-Compliance

The most recent enforcement and litigation data released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) confirm that employment-related liabilities remain one of the most significant risks facing employers. Controlling these risks requires an understanding of what employers can and cannot do under the various equal employment opportunity laws enforced by the EEOC, including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII)
  • the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • the Equal Pay Act (EPA)
  • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

These laws generally make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of a person’s protected characteristic, such as an employee’s or applicant’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to retaliate against a person because he or she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

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EEOC Updates Pregnancy Discrimination Act Enforcement Guidance

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 8/27/2014
pregnant woman's stomach

In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was added to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prohibit employment discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. In July 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued enforcement guidance regarding pregnancy in the workplace. It has been over 30 years since the EEOC last issued any PDA guidance.

The EEOC’s guidance identifies two fundamental requirements of the PDA:

  • Covered employers, which are generally employers with 15 or more employees, may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
  • Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.

The PDA, which covers all aspects of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions and fringe benefits (leave, health insurance, etc.), prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s:

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Grading the EEOC in 2013

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 1/29/2014
employee and employer

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a mission. According to its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 through 2016, the EEOC is focused on:

  • combating employment discrimination with administrative (investigation, mediation, conciliation) and litigation enforcement mechanisms
  • preventing employment discrimination with education and outreach activities
  • delivering excellent and consistent services with effective systems.

The EEOC’s enforcement objectives and activities provide valuable insight into what employers should pay special attention to when dealing with equal employment opportunity matters. According to its Fiscal Year 2013 Performance and Accountability Report, the EEOC:

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Department of Labor Extends FLSA Protections to Direct Care Workers

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 10/2/2013
elderly couple

On September 17, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule that will extend the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime protections to most of the nation’s workers who provide home care assistance to elderly people and people with illnesses, injuries and disabilities. The DOL estimates that when it becomes effective on January 1, 2015, this new rule will extend the FLSA’s protections to nearly two million direct care workers.

According to the DOL, direct care workers remain among the lowest paid in the service industry because they have been denied minimum wage and overtime compensation under the FLSA’s companionship services exemption. The DOL suggests that courts have applied this exemption too broadly to encompass essentially all workers providing companionship services for those requiring care because of age or infirmity.

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Unlawful Retaliation under Title VII: No More Mixed Messages

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 8/21/2013
workplace discrimination

Title VII prohibits retaliation against employees who engage in protected activity, such as opposing or alleging unlawful workplace discrimination. Those suing for unlawful retaliation must prove that there is a link between the retaliation and their protected activity. But, how strong must the link be? The U.S. Supreme Court recently answered this question in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar.

In this case, Dr. Nassar alleged that his supervisor was biased against him on account of his religion and ethnic heritage. His supervisor once remarked that “Middle Easterners are lazy,” and, upon hearing that another physician of Middle Eastern descent was hired, the supervisor said that the hospital had “hired another one.” Dr. Nassar lodged several complaints about his treatment. Thereafter, a series of events led to Dr. Nassar leaving the hospital for another position. More...

Who is a Supervisor under Title VII? Why does it Matter?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/17/2013
supervisor and employee

Who is considered a supervisor under Title VII? Since our last article discussing Vance v. Ball State University, the U.S. Supreme Court has given us the answer. According to the Court, a supervisor is a person

empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim; to effect a significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.

Vance involved allegations of racial harassment and discrimination in violation of Title VII. Though the parties disputed the precise nature and scope of the harasser’s duties, it was clear that the harasser did not have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline the plaintiff. Given the harasser’s inability to take a tangible employment action against the plaintiff, the Court held that the harasser does not qualify as a supervisor under Title VII. More...

EEOC Focusing on Employers Using Criminal Background Checks

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 6/18/2013
background check

In a previous article we discussed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) position on the use of arrest and conviction records in the employment context. According to the EEOC, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) prohibits the use of arrest and conviction records in a manner that discriminates on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. The EEOC recently reaffirmed its position by filing two lawsuits involving the use of criminal background records.

BMW Manufacturing Co.

The EEOC claims that BMW’s criminal conviction policy, which disproportionately screened out African Americans, is not job related and consistent with business necessity. The lawsuit alleges that BMW’s policy is a blanket exclusion that does not provide for an individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes, the ages of the convictions, or the nature of the workers’ respective positions. More...

The New Form I-9: What’s Different?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 4/30/2013
paperwork

Those of you following us on Facebook or Twitter know that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently revised the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9). Though optional since early March 2013, the revised Form I-9 will become mandatory on May 7, 2013. As of this date, employers must stop using prior versions of the Form I-9 and begin using the version dated 03/08/13. (The version date can be found at the bottom of the form.)

I-9’s are used by employers to verify the identity and employment authorization of every new employee hired in the United States, regardless of citizenship. This process is authorized by the Immigration Reform and Control Act to preclude the unlawful hiring, recruiting or accepting a fee for the referral of aliens who are not authorized to work in the United States. More...

Individual Liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 4/3/2013
alarm clock

Did you know that individuals can be held personally liable for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? The FLSA’s broad definition of employer includes “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee.” The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered when it is appropriate to hold someone personally liable for wage and hour violations under the FLSA.

In Lamonica v. Safe Hurricane Shutters, Inc., former employees sued their employer to recover unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA. The employees also sued two of the corporate-employer’s directors, arguing that they sufficiently controlled the corporation to justify holding them personally liable under the FLSA. To support their case against the directors, the employees showed that: More...

Is Your Unpaid Intern Really an Employee?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 3/12/2013
woman training man in the workplace

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes federal standards for minimum wage and overtime compensation. Under the FLSA, interns in the for-profit private sector will generally be viewed as employees entitled to compensation except in very limited circumstances.

Whether an individual working in an internship or training program is considered an employee that should be paid minimum wage and overtime compensation under the FLSA depends on the facts and circumstances. When making this determination, the following criteria must be applied to each particular situation:

  1. The internship, even though it includes performing actual work, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern works under close supervision of existing staff and does not displace regular employees;
  4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and its operations may occasionally be impeded by the intern;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
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Court Interprets FLSA’s Break Requirement for Nursing Mothers

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 1/29/2013

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently became the first federal appellate court to consider a significant, though rarely publicized, provision of the Affordable Care Act—the reasonable break time requirement for nursing mothers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In Miller v. Roche Surety and Casualty, an employee sued her employer alleging a violation of her rights as a nursing mother under the FLSA. Under the FLSA, employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child. This requirement, which extends for 1 year after the child's birth, requires an employer to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public,” so that the employee may express breast milk.

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Improper Salary Deductions Under the FLSA

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 1/8/2013

The Fair Labor Standards Act limits an employer’s ability to make salary deductions from employees who are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime compensation provisions. Exempt employees must generally receive their full salary for any week in which they perform any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked. And, the FLSA generally does not allow employers to deduct from an exempt employee’s salary because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed.

However, there are limited exceptions to the FLSA’s general rule against salary deductions for exempt employees. For example, salary deductions are allowed:

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Employers May See More Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 11/20/2012

An employer’s liability for sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act depends on whether the harasser is a supervisor. If the alleged harasser is the victim’s co-employee, the employer may have various defenses to liability. However, if the harasser is a supervisor, Title VII’s strict liability standard may be triggered and the employer may be left defenseless.

So, who is considered a supervisor under Title VII?

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Is Overtime Pay Required for Managers?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 9/17/2012

Employers who rely on job titles when determining whether an employee is exempt from federal overtime pay requirements risk being named as defendant in a wage and hour lawsuit.

Employers often assume that the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA’s) executive exemption automatically applies to any employee given the title of “manager.” The reality, however, is that the manager title has virtually nothing to do with whether an employee qualifies for the executive exemption. More...

Demanding Access to an Employee’s Facebook Account May Give Employee Access to Employer’s Bank Account

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/26/2012

Social media websites like Facebook have become the new water cooler. Once discussions (and gossip) about the workplace, supervisors and co-workers moved online, employers started getting curious about who was saying what to whom. More...

Is Your Business Ready for the 2012 Hurricane Season?

by Anita Byer, President - The Human Equation on 6/4/2012

For those living or working in areas at risk of experiencing a tropical storm or hurricane, June 1st rarely passes unnoticed. At Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk, we understand that preparing for Hurricane Season is rarely easy and often stressful. We also understand that a lack of awareness and preparation can lead to disaster, and that the best way to limit the risks posed by hurricanes is to take preventative steps now. More...

Title VII Liability for Considering Criminal Histories in Employment Decisions?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 5/21/2012

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued its Enforcement Guidance on employer use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII). A survey cited by the EEOC found that 92% of responding employers subjected all or some of their job candidates to criminal background checks. More...

The Human Equation's newsletters and publications are intended as an information source for the clients and friends of the firm. Their content should not be construed as legal advice, and readers should not act upon the information in these publications without professional guidance. Please note that newsletters and publications that are archived by The Human Equation are not updated after initial publication and may not contain the most current information available.

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