New HHS website provides tips for accommodating lactating employees

by Kate DeForest

A lesser-known provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers that are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide a private area for mothers to nurse or express breast milk during the workday. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making the requirement known with a new website from the Office of Women’s Health. The website includes resources for employers that seek to comply with the ACA.

ACA requirements

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Return-to-work woes: EEOC challenges medical release requests under ADA, GINA

by Geoffrey D. Rieder

In a lawsuit filed in September, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges that a Minnesota-based power company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by requiring an employee returning from medical leave to execute overbroad medical release forms for a fitness-for-duty medical examination. In EEOC v. Cummins Power Generation, currently pending in the federal district court in Minnesota, the agency asserts that the employer violated both the ADA and GINA when it attempted to obtain certification that the employee was medically qualified to return to work from medical leave. The EEOC’s aggressive approach in this case suggests that employers may be well-advised to review policies and practices governing employees’ return to work following medical leaves of absence.  PrivateMedicalInformation


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Secretary of labor speaks at major federal contractor conference

by Emily L. Bristol

To focus on the importance of the federal contractor community’s role in President Barack Obama’s commitment to enacting change with the “power of the pen,” Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez spoke in early August at the 2014 National Industry Liaison Group’s (NILG) national meeting in Washington, D.C. This was the first time a sitting secretary of labor spoke to the NILG. Secretary Perez emphasized the importance of federal contractors making inclusion and opportunity a part of the “DNA” of companies in the American workforce.  Perez

Highlighting an issue with opportunity gaps in the labor force, Perez told federal contractors that having a culturally competent and linguistically diverse workforce is important and that inclusion is how we can succeed in the economy. Because of their affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations under regulations imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), federal contractors must make inclusion and opportunity a part of their business, and they are at what Perez called the forefront of the “orchestra of opportunity.”

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EEOC issues updated enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination

by Kevin McCormick

On July 14, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its “Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues.” This is the first comprehensive update the EEOC has provided on the subject since 1983. The guidance supersedes the earlier EEOC publication and incorporates significant developments in the law during the past 30 years.  Pregnant Employee

In addition to addressing the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the guidance discusses the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended in 2008 to individuals who have pregnancy-related disabilities. Much of the analysis in the new guidance is an update of long-standing EEOC policies that set out the fundamental PDA requirements that an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons similar in their ability or inability to work.

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EEOC to update guidance on English-only policies?

by Amanda Shelby

Chief among the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) current priorities are (1) eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring and (2) protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers. It therefore should come as no surprise that the EEOC might be setting its sights on revising its guidance relating to English-only policies since those policies arguably implicate both of its top two priorities. So what does the EEOC’s guidance currently say? What are the agency’s concerns? And what precautions can you take now to minimize your risks in the future?  SpeakEnglish

EEOC’s current guidance

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OFCCP issues new rules on hiring of disabled individuals

by Elizabeth Bradley

On August 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a final rule intended to promote the hiring and employment of people with disabilities by federal government contractors. The rule makes changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).  GovernmentRegulations

The final rules were published in the Federal Register on September 24 and can be kindly described as voluminous and difficult to decipher. This article provides guidance on the key revisions to the Section 503 and VEVRAA regulations that affect contractors that are required to prepare affirmative action plans (AAPs).

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EEOC steps up enforcement of genetic information nondiscrimination

by Roberta Fields

Each year, scientific advancements in the field of genetics broaden our understanding of health issues and, specifically, the impact heredity plays on a person’s chances of developing certain medical conditions. Such research has led to more and more genetic tests designed to help people understand their risks for getting cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other diseases and conditions.

While such tests are beneficial in understanding, detecting, treating, and preventing disease, the information they yield―if it falls into the wrong hands or is used for the wrong purposes―can be used to hurt people as well.

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OFCCP issues new compensation directive

by Melineh Verma

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) formally rescinded the Bush-era guidance on pay discrimination in February, criticizing the 2006 “Voluntary Guidelines and Compensation Standards” as improperly limiting its ability to conduct full investigations of compensation matters. The OFCCP replaced the 2006 voluntary guidelines with Directive 307, which specifies the procedures that OFCCP investigators must follow when conducting compensation audits.

“Today, we are lifting arbitrary barriers that have prevented our investigators from finding and combating illegal pay discrimination,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu in a press release. “At the same time, we are providing clear guidance for contractors to facilitate their success when it comes to providing equal opportunity to all of their workers.” Directive 307′s investigative procedures apply to all scheduling letters issued by the OFCCP on or after February 28, 2013.

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Balancing act: religious accommodations vs. diversity goals

by Tara Martens Miller

Freedom to believe and practice your own religion is a strongly held American value as well as a right recognized by  the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and most state organizations charged with receiving and investigating claims of discrimination. Sometimes, however, an employee’s expression of religious beliefs in the workplace can be disruptive―especially if the employee’s beliefs clash with the beliefs of her coworkers. When does an employer’s attempt to control religious expression become discriminatory? And how does a company reconcile its efforts to promote workplace diversity with an employee’s right to push back against “diversity” he opposes?

Basic protections under the law

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DOL releases toolkit to combat child and forced labor

April 14, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of International Labor Affairs has released “Reducing Child Labor and Forced Labor: A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses,” the first guide developed by the U.S. government to help businesses combat child labor and forced labor in their global supply chains. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), worldwide there are 215 million children in child labor, with 115 million performing hazardous work. It also estimates that 21 million people are in forced labor, six million of them children.

Using the DOL’s toolkit should help employers reduce “the chance that your products—and the raw materials they come from—are manufactured, mined or harvested by children who should be in school, or by workers locked in sweatshops or forced into work through false promises or threats.” read more…

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