Ex-EEOC employee met requirements to pursue disability claim against agency

by Nancy Williams

Just as private-sector workers are required to file an administrative charge of discrimination before filing a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal employees also have prefiling requirements. In a disability discrimination case against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the 9th Circuit recently decided that the employee had taken all necessary steps and could proceed with her claim.

Was filing of lawsuit fatally premature?

Mary Bullock was an administrative law judge (ALJ) for the EEOC from 1999 to 2007. She suffers from both multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus. In January 2003, she filed an informal disability discrimination complaint, and four months later, she filed a formal complaint. She claimed the EEOC had failed to accommodate her condition and thus had violated the federal Rehabilitation Act. The informal and formal complaint steps track the requirements of Title VII for federal employee claims. read more…

Employers have opportunity to capitalize on a graying workforce

August 19, 2012 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Is it a “silver tsunami” or barely a ripple in your workplace? Whether your organization is facing a wave of retirements or just a few in the next several years, employers are wise to consider the significance of older workers.

As the 78 million-member baby boomer generation hits what has traditionally been considered retirement age, many employers worry about a brain drain–the loss of their most experienced and senior employees who have the most institutional knowledge. Employers may not need to worry about too many imminent departures, though, because many boomers are deciding to stay–some because their retirement nest eggs dwindled during the recession and others because they’re still healthy, energetic, and engaged in their careers.

No matter the reason employees decide to keep working, the workforce is getting grayer and employers need to explore how to get the most out of their older workers. read more…

Categories: Feature

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Never trust a skinny chef

by Kylie Crawford TenBrook

I am sorry to inform you that Paula “butter-your-bacon” Deen has become a health fanatic. A recent article in People magazine featured her weight loss transformation–and a recipe for marinated vegetable salad. (BOR-ING!) Of course, she looks great and will probably live a lot longer. And she’s a good role model for America. Blah, blah, blah. But what about me? My advice to Food Network: Fire her. I need my butter.

Weight, weight, don’t tell me

In all honesty, I think what Paula has done is great, and I’m glad she’s living a healthier lifestyle. But her story (and my desire to have her fired from her TV show) presents an interesting employment law question. To what extent can an employee’s weight factor into employment decisions? read more…

Categories: Diversity Trends

Hiring foreign professionals

by A. Neal Barkus

Suppose your company has a computer engineering position that it has been trying to fill for several months with no success. Suddenly, you’re contacted by a dream applicant ― someone with an excellent educational record from the local university, relevant job experience, and attractive personal qualities. Let’s call this applicant Manesh. He is a citizen of India and is about to graduate with a master’s degree in computer engineering. He has been in the United States on a student visa for the last three years. The manager of the department with the vacancy is anxious to hire Manesh. You realize that hiring a foreign professional is more complicated than hiring a U.S. citizen, but your competitors seem to be doing it. How do you get started? This article answers the basic questions.

Temporary nonimmigrant work status for professionals

Foreign professionals who are interested in working in the United States may qualify to do so as (1) a prospective permanent immigrant (e.g., someone whose goal is to obtain a green card) or (2) a temporary nonimmigrant worker for a limited number of years. In some cases, a foreign worker may have “dual intent” ― that is, he intends to work temporarily in the United States and return to his home country when his nonimmigrant status expires and remain in the United States permanently if permanent resident status is approved during his period of nonimmigrant classification. read more…

Categories: Seeking Talent

“There is no sin except stupidity”

by Donna Brooks

We confess: In these days of dry Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) lawsuits, newspaper battles over immigration laws and school calendars, and court opinions focusing on sufficiency of evidence or burdens of proof, any day that we get to write an article about “sin” is a good day. While actual “sinning” abounds in the typical litigation fact pattern, we don’t often get to talk about it. A recent case from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to Alabama, Florida, and Georgia employers) puts the issue of sin front and center. Unfortunately, the issue of pregnancy was right there front and center with it, which complicated the case for the employer.

Oh, and by the way, we notice we’re writing lots of articles about pregnancy lately. Must be something in the water. That fact serves as a good reminder that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and employees’ attorneys get pretty excited about pregnancy discrimination. In the following case, the employer may have gotten a little too excited.

read more…

Categories: Legal News

Financially stressed employees pulling down productivity

July 15, 2012 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

By Tammy Binford

A new employee group has begun showing up vividly on employer radar screens. It’s not defined by race, religion, gender, or any of the other familiar legally protected classes. The new group commanding the attention of employers is made up of workers suffering extreme stress brought on by extreme debt.

It’s always been in an employer’s interest to provide help to employees suffering the various stresses of life – health woes, family strife, and certainly financial distress – but the economic trouble of recent years seems to be taking a special toll on productivity.

Young employees saddled with exorbitant student loans are a notable subset of employees stressed over debt. A recent National Public Radio report profiled the case of a 30-year-old woman who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with bachelor’s and nursing degrees and one more thing – $140,000 in student loans. She’s now employed and making more money than her parents (a school bus driver and a teacher), but she expects to be in her 50s before her loans are paid off. read more…

Categories: Feature / Team in Trouble

Disability etiquette: It should be common courtesy

July 15, 2012 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

By Marcia Akers

The rules of etiquette define those behaviors that are socially acceptable under particular circumstances. It is not a crime of legal consequence if these unwritten, but widely accepted, standards of proper behavior are broken, but anyone not adhering to them may be ridiculed or ostracized. The Disability Rights Movement popularized the expression “disability etiquette” which describes the guidelines for approaching and interacting with people who have disabilities.

People with disabilities are simply that….people. As it is with all people, those who have a disability have emotions, goals, friends, families, abilities, limitations. And, as it is with all people, those who have a disability deal with life as it presents itself in a way that is comfortable and accommodating so far as they are able and to the extent that our society will allow. read more…

EEOC issues new guidance concerning employment of veterans with disabilities

By Diane M. Pietraszewski

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued two pieces of revised guidance focusing on the employment rights of disabled veterans under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One of the documents, titled “Veterans and the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Guide for Employers,” is directed at employers. The other document ― “Understanding Your Employment Rights Under the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Guide for Wounded Veterans” ― is designed to assist veterans.

The guidance reflects changes to the law as a result of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which makes it more likely than not that certain service-connected disabilities ― such as deafness, blindness, missing limbs, major depressive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder ― may be considered disabilities under the ADA. read more…

Categories: Agency Insight

County hammered with $820,000 verdict for not protecting disabled employee

By Michael Futterman and Jaime Touchstone

California’s Fourth Appellate District recently upheld an $820,000 harassment verdict against Orange County for failing to stop or prevent nearly eight months of continuous harassment of a disabled corrections officer by county employees. Let’s take a look at the case.

Disabled corrections officer harassed online and at work

Ralph Espinoza worked for the Orange County Probation Department as a deputy juvenile corrections officer. He was born without fingers on his right hand. He was able to perform most tasks but was self-conscious and often kept his hand in his pocket.

In August 2006, county corrections officers started blogging about work. An anonymous post to one of the blogs stated: “I will give anyone 100 bucks if you get a picture of the claw. Just take your hand out of your pocket already!” Further blog posts referred to the “one handed bandit” and the “rat claw,” coupled with negative comments concerning Espinoza’s job performance. A coworker alerted Espinoza, and he began monitoring the blog. read more…

Categories: Legal News

Dads Deserve a Break: Family-Friendly Policies Aren’t Just for Working Moms

June 16, 2012 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

By Tammy Binford

Dad usually gets a new tie or some other token of appreciation from the kids in observance of Father’s Day. But what he may want more is a little extra support at work.

Working moms are often at the center of discussions about work-life balance – how to get the children to school and still get to work on time, how to juggle kids’ activities with work deadlines, etc. – but dads can find themselves in the same bind.

read more…

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