Posts in Discrimination.

The feds are talking about NLRB-EEOC coordination, an end to collection of compensation data, and an inflation-indexed salary test for the overtime exemption. Here's the scoop.

How much do you know about an employer’s reasonable accommodation obligations under the law(s)? Take this quiz and find out!

"Nice Accommodations!"

Question 1: Which of the following federal employment laws require reasonable 

accommodation, either by their terms or as courts have interpreted them over the years?

A. The Americans with Disabilities Act

B. The Family and Medical Leave Act

C. Title VII-religion

D. The Nursing Mothers Act

E. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

F. All of the above

G. A, C, D, and E

ANSWER: G. The FMLA does not require reasonable accommodation, but all of these other laws do. And there is some overlap between the FMLA and pregnancy or disability accommodation because leave for pregnancy or disability can be a form of reasonable accommodation.

Asserting that the U.S. Department of Justice “must interpret Title VII as written by Congress,” the DOJ is reversing the Obama-era interpretation of Title VII, taking the position that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

In a memorandum issued this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ formally withdrew a 2014 memorandum by then-Attorney General Eric Holder taking the contrary position.

Attorney General Sessions contends that transgender individuals are protected from discrimination based on sex, but not based on “gender identity per se.” He noted that Title VII refers only to discrimination based on “sex,” which is “ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female.” He also noted that Congress had specifically referred to gender identity in other contexts, indicating that it would have done so in Title VII had that been its intent. Finally, he said that Title VII did not prohibit treatment “that [took] account of the sex of employees but [did] not impose different burdens on similarly situated members of each sex,” specifically referencing sex-specific bathrooms.

The memorandum concludes as follows:

The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections. Nor does this memorandum remove or reduce the protections against discrimination on the basis of sex that Congress has provided all individuals, including transgender individuals, under Title VII. . . . The Department of Justice has vigorously enforced [federal laws specifically protecting transgender individuals], and will continue to do so, on behalf of all Americans, including transgender Americans.

The DOJ position is not a surprise, given that it recently submitted a “friend of the court” brief making roughly the same arguments in a sexual orientation discrimination case.

This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a “multimonth leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In doing so, the court rejected longstanding guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a long-term medical leave is a reasonable accommodation when the leave is (1) definite and time-limited (not open ended); (2) requested in advance; and (3) likely to enable the employee to perform the essential job functions on return. Noting that under the EEOC’s position “the length of leave does not matter,” the court characterized it as an “open-ended extension” of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.)

Last week, I received a scathing comment from Dale Kleber, a Chicago-area lawyer and a plaintiff in an age discrimination lawsuit. Mr. Kleber did not like my gut reaction to his lawsuit, which was based on an article that I’d read in The Washington Post. It appeared to me that Mr. Kleber — then a 58-year-old lawyer with roughly 30 years of experience, including experience as a CEO of a dairy industry trade group, Chief Legal Counsel, and General Counsel — was rejected for a low-level in-house staff attorney position because he was overqualified for the position, not because he was 58 years old.

Prompted by Mr. Kleber’s comment, I have now read the court papers (well, a lot of them, anyway).*

*Mr. Kleber’s case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, but it is still in the very early stages. For you procedural nerds, I’ve included a summary at the end of this post. Non-nerds can skip it.

Now that I know more about Mr. Kleber’s lawsuit, I haven’t changed my mind. In other words, I still think he was rejected for being overqualified.

Can’t “overqualified” be a code word for “too old”? Yes, but not necessarily. Read on!

With President Trump in office for nine months now, it is hard to believe that none of his people are yet on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The four currentCommissioners, including the Acting Chair, Republican Victoria Lipnic, and former Chair Jenny Yang, were all appointed by President Obama.

But that may change soon. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held hearings this week on the nominations of Janet Dhillon for EEOC Chair and Daniel Gade for EEOC Commissioner.

(The Senate confirmation vote for William Emanuel, whose nomination as a Member of the National Labor Relations Board has been pending for quite some time, is expected to take place imminently.)

Here’s what we have learned about Ms. Dhillon and Dr. Gade from this week’s HELP Committee testimony, according to an article in Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Labor Report:

Has the world gone crazy?

A. No.

B. Yes.

C. The word “crazy” is a microaggression.

ANSWER: B.

Welcome to our world! 

See how you do with these guaranteed true news items from the last week, all relating to employment law. Then tell me whether you agree that we are living in some crazy times. YCMTSU.*

*You Can’t Make This Stuff Up. (I think this cliche has earned an internet acronym ...

Laboratory Corporation of America has agreed to pay approximately $200,000 to resolve a matter with Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. According to the Conciliation Agreement between the parties, the OFCCP

 found statistically significant adverse impact against females in the selection process for Lab Assistant and that Asians were paid less than similarly situated non-Asian White employees in the Lab Assistant position.

The alleged hiring discrimination resulted in a shortfall of only two females, and the amount of statistical significance was redacted from the Conciliation Agreement posted online by the OFCCP.  To resolve this claim, LabCorp will distribute more than $51,000 to the affected class of female applicants. In addition, the company agreed to revise its selection process, “including the criteria used in each step of the hiring process, any application screens, interviews, tests, credit checks, review of criminal history, reference checks, testing, or other selection procedure;” to review and revise the job description for Lab Assistant “to minimize the potential for gender stereotyping”; and to list the minimum requirements for the Lab Assistant position on all job postings.

To resolve the allegations of compensation discrimination, LabCorp will pay almost $150,000 to Asian Lab Assistants who were allegedly paid less than their White counterparts, even after controlling for legitimate, non-discriminatory factors. In addition, the company must conduct its own regression analysis in six months, and if it reveals statistically significant adverse impact against Asians, LabCorp has agreed to increase their salaries.

Of course, LabCorp’s settlement with the agency is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing.

Based on a recent Senate appropriations bill, it appears that the Trump Administration’s plan to merge the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has stalled. The

 Senate bill would fund the OFCCP for Fiscal Year 2018 at approximately $103.5 million, which is more than the House’s proposed funding of $94.5 million. Congress would not be proposing funds for the agency if it planned to eliminate it.

This legislative action follows a letter from Acting OFCCP Director Thomas Dowd to the Institute for Workplace Equality on August 24, “acknowledg[ing] that the consolidation proposal includes several challenging transition issues.” Although Mr. Dowd did not expressly state that merger plans were on ice, he noted that any consolidation was unlikely to occur until Fiscal Year 2019 and that the agency would focus on “contemporaneous opportunities to improve effectiveness and efficiency.”

Perhaps Congress is listening to its constituents. The proposed merger was opposed by both civil rights advocacy groups and employer organizations, and my colleague Angelique Lyons cogently summarized the pros and cons here.

We will continue to monitor this issue for further developments.

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by frankie leon.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, y’all!

The month of August was not kind to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC’s wellness regulations were shot down by a federal court in the District of Columbia, and earlier this week the agency was told that it could not require employers to report compensation data on the new EEO-1 Reports.

But the EEOC also scored a big ...

Robin Shea has more than 20 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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