EEOC’s controversial EEO-1 change would root out pay discrimination

by Amanda Shelby

On January 29, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with administering and enforcing the civil rights laws that prohibit workplace discrimination, proposed a significant revision to its Employer Information Report (also known as the EEO-1). The federal government uses the EEO-1 to collect demographic data about an employer’s workforce. The EEOC’s proposed amendment to the EEO-1 would require employers with 100 or more employees to report pay data in addition to their workforce demographics. So what’s the purpose of the proposed change, and how will it impact you?  Pay Discrimination

EEOC’s proposed EEO-1 changes

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EEOC addresses workplace discrimination against Muslim or Middle Eastern individuals

As backlash is rising steadily in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, California, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is taking an active approach to addressing current and potential workplace discrimination. EEOC Chair Jenny Yang issued a statement urging employers and employees to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace against “vulnerable communities” such as employees who are or are being perceived to be Muslim. She cautioned employers to “take steps to directly address potential problems to prevent harassment, retaliation and other forms of discrimination” and encouraged employees to “report incidents to their workplace official and to the EEOC or its state and local partners.”  Muslim business lady

The agency also released two resource guidance documents, one for employers and one for employees, in Q&A format to explain federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination against individuals who are targeted for being Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. The guides note well-established strategies to curb and prevent workplace discrimination and warn employers that “reactions in the workplace to world events demand increased efforts . . . to prevent discrimination.”

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Retaliation, discrimination, and harassment persist; disability bias charges increase

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released a detailed breakdown of the 89,385 workplace discrimination charges it received in fiscal year (FY) 2015, which started on October 1, 2014, and ended on September 30, 2015. Retaliation charges increased by nearly 5% and continue to be the leading complaint raised by workers across the country. Disability discrimination charges increased by 6% from FY 2014 and were the third most commonly filed charge.  EEOC-jpg

The EEOC resolved 92,641 charges in FY 2015 through voluntary resolution and litigation. The year-end data show that 39,757 retaliation charges were filed, representing 44% of all private-sector charges. The agency is currently seeking public input on its proposed enforcement guidance on retaliation and related issues.

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Not funny: mocking coworker’s spouse’s religion

by Zachary D. Morahan

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, 2nd Department, recently issued an important decision in which it held that an employer faced liability under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) for allowing employees to mock the religious beliefs of a coworker’s spouse. This case has important ramifications for both public and private-sector employers.  Not Amused

Background

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Fairness in diversity programs: Know how to avoid a backlash

February 14, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers and academics alike have long touted the value of diversity in the workplace. But diversity efforts also have detractorsa fact born out in December when criticism was heaped on the CEO of Sam’s Club after she spoke out about her commitment to building her own diverse leadership team and encouraging the same from her company’s suppliers.  Team Diversity

Diversity backlash

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What HR can do to prevent workplace violence

by Jonathan R. Mook

News reports of yet another workplace shooting have become all too frequent in our media-saturated world. The seemingly constant reports of shootings makes clear to all employers the inconvenient truth that no workplace is totally immune from the possibility that a violent incident will occur. Indeed, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than two million Americans are exposed to some form of workplace violence each year. What are your obligations to protect your employees from acts of violence, and what steps should you take to make your workplace as safe as possible?  Businessman with knife

OSH Act obligations

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Paid parental leave policies gain traction

by Kelly Boehner

There is no federal law in the United States mandating paid maternity or parental leave. Currently, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a child in foster care. Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have been with your company for at least 12 months, worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months, and work at a location where your company employs at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius. The time away from work is unpaid, but companies must continue to provide an employee with the same health insurance benefits during his leave and must place the employee in either the same position or a position with equivalent pay and benefits upon his return to work. Young Asian Chinese family with 5 month old son

State-paid leave

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Recent settlement highlights EEOC’s focus on vulnerable workers

by Jeffrey D. Slanker and Rob Sniffen

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) highlights several areas in which the agency is increasing its focus, including the protection of vulnerable immigrant and migrant workers. That focus was recently underscored by the agency’s settlement of a case involving allegations of national origin and race discrimination against an Alabama employer that employed Indian workers through the federal H2-B program. EEOC-jpg

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Handling harassment: What constitutes a hostile work environment?

by Joanna Vilos

Employees sometimes complain about undesired or harassing conduct that does not rise to the level of a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A decision from a Wyoming federal court reveals which steps employers can take to avoid liability and how employers can defend themselves from an employee’s allegations.  Manager putting his hand on the shoulder of his secretary

Hostile work environment claims

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Getting past the threat of sexual harassment in the workplace

January 17, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

As employers strive to create diverse workforces, they need to think beyond just attracting employees from varied backgrounds. It’s just as important to think about how to retain a diverse group. Taking steps to prevent sexual harassment is one way to make sure talented and productive employees don’t flee work environments they find uncomfortable, even unlawful.Business Man Subtly Sexual Harrasing The Business Woman

Recognizing sexual harassment is the first step. Gone are the days when a typical case involved a male boss chasing a female secretary around the office, or workers in a male-dominated workplace posting a calendar displaying risqué pictures in the breakroom. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, tasked with enforcing antiharassment law, and courts now recognize many more situations that fit the definition of sexual harassment. So employers need to take concrete steps to reduce their risk regarding subtle as well as blatant harassment.

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