Defense of wage discrimination claims for the present and beyond

by Jason R. Mau

Over the last three years, members of Congress have attempted to amend the Equal Pay Act (EPA) to improve and ensure its protection of individuals subject to pay discrimination on the basis of gender. Originally approved in January 2009 by the House of Representatives, the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) failed to gain support in the Senate and was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in the spring of 2011. In June 2012, the bill again failed to gain the necessary support in the Senate.

The reintroduced legislation included provisions that would have enhanced employers’ burden of proof when defending against EPA claims. Those provisions are in addition to proposed amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that would allow for enhanced penalties, protection from retaliation for initiating an investigation or discussion of employee wages, programs for negotiation skills training, collection of pay information for research, and establishment of a national award for pay equity in the workplace. read more…

EEOC has a banner year

by Edward Sisson

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was very busy in fiscal year (FY) 2012. The agency reported that it finished the year with record-high monetary recoveries for victims of discrimination.

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Employees on the autism spectrum: guidance for employers

December 16, 2012 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) – a group of developmental disabilities that can cause social, communication, and behavioral challenges – affect one in 88 children and one in 54 boys, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That makes autism the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States, according to the advocacy organization Autism Speaks. ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

The National Longitudinal Transition Study, a project of the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts in Boston revealed striking statistics about those affected by autism:

  • Although 67 percent of youth with autism who were part of a study on employment reported working at some point after high school, 42 percent earned less than the federal minimum wage, and most of the youth in the study reported that the majority of their coworkers were also people with disabilities. read more…

When world events hit the workplace

by Mark Schickman

Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that charges of discrimination based on religion and national origin are the fastest growing categories in the past decade. Of course, that coincides with the aftermath of 9/11 and, rational or not, American anger and suspicions over Middle Eastern Arab communities. This shift in public mood creates a problem for HR professionals, whose job it is to ensure a workplace free from discrimination and harassment―a prejudice-free island in an ocean littered with group hatred. That’s no easy job, as United Parcel Service (UPS) was reminded recently. read more…

EEOC offers website and guidance for young workers

December 16, 2012 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Youth@Work program is designed to educate working-age young people about their rights and responsibilities in the workplace and how they can protect themselves against illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The program consists of three main components:  the Youth@Work web site, free outreach events, and partnerships with business leaders, human resource groups, and industry trade associations.

The Youth@Work website explains the different types of job discrimination that young workers may encounter and suggests strategies they can use to prevent, and, if necessary, respond to such discrimination. The site includes an interactive tool called “Challenge Yourself!” that provides an opportunity for young workers to test their knowledge by analyzing sample job discrimination scenarios. The site, created with the assistance of EEOC student interns, also includes examples of EEOC cases filed on behalf of of young workers. read more…

Words are powerful things: racism and hostile work environments

by Brinton Wilkins

Humans are unique in their use of words. With them, we explain the world around us, share our thoughts and feelings, teach, and define ourselves. Therefore, it should be no surprise that words also can injure. Trying to excuse words by saying “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody” or “Everyone says that” usually rings hollow. In the English language, there are few words more opprobrious and hateful than the “n” word. Although segments of pop culture seem to have a conflicted, contradictory, and self-destructive relationship with that word, it should be clear to employers that the word has no place in a modern workplace. Unfortunately, one employer learned that lesson the hard way. read more…

Survey looks at the difference in work styles of younger, older workers

December 16, 2012 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Online job website CareerBuilder conducted a national survey between May 14 and June 4, polling more than 3,800 full-time workers and more than 2,200 hiring managers across industries and functions. Managers and workers ages 25 to 34 and managers and workers 55 and older were surveyed to get a picture of how the styles of the two groups differ.

“Age disparities in the office are perhaps more diverse now than they’ve ever been,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “It’s not uncommon to see 30-year-olds managing 50-year-olds or 65-year-olds mentoring 22-year-olds. While the tenets of successful management are consistent across generations, there are subtle differences in work habits and views that all workers must empathize with when working with or managing someone who’s much different in age.” read more…

Long-term unemployment seen holding back jobseekers

November 18, 2012 - by: Diversity Insight 3 COMMENTS

No law specifically says employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants who have been out of work for months or even years. The long-term unemployed don’t have protections spelled out in any antidiscrimination laws – or do they?

When jobseekers are part of a protected class that has a disproportionate number of people unemployed, they can begin to wonder if they’re stuck in unemployment because of their race, age, gender, disability, or some other characteristic protected under discrimination laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been wondering the same thing. read more…

The art of Thanksgiving

by Al Vreeland

We’ve become a nation of firefighters. Not the heroic sort riding red trucks and saving lives, but the frenetic sort running from hot spot to hot spot, handling daily crises in order of priority. And we usually don’t take time to appreciate the people who help us. So as we belly up to the Thanksgiving table this month, it’s a good time to take stock of what we, as employers, should be thankful for from our employees and to remind our employees what they have to be thankful for about their jobs.

We know ― time is scarce; rarely are our jobs in perfect balance. In bad times, we work harder to manage crises; in good times, we work harder to meet the additional demands of success. Who has the time to sit back and reflect on the past? But without taking time to remind ourselves and our employees of what they and we are working for, we lose a big opportunity to benefit from and improve on past efforts.

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No gender confusion means no discrimination

It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That certainly applies to the following case involving the employment application of a biological female who identifies as a male. While the scenario might be somewhat unusual, the legal issue is one that has been around for decades: Can you discriminate on the basis of a protected classification of which you are unaware?

Who are you?

The Minneapolis facility of United Parcel Service (UPS) hires approximately 40 of the 200 to 300 applicants who seek a part-time package-handling job every month. Each applicant must complete the online job application and tour a sorting facility to observe the heavy physical work required of the job before he is given an interview. Because of the high turnover rate, interviews last only 10 to 15 minutes and focus mostly on whether the applicant is likely to stay with the company. Afterward, the interviewer codes the candidate’s application as “ready for a second interview” or “rejected” for specific established reasons (e.g., “poor interview responses” or “poor job history”). The company’s electronic records system allows only one code to be entered, even if more than one might apply. read more…

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