As businesses slowly begin to reopen, workers are being recalled to the workplace. Some of them are expressing reluctance to return due to increased health risks from COVID-19 based on underlying medical conditions or age. Others are struggling with child care issues as schools remain closed for the remainder of the academic year and summer care programs are canceled. Some employers have asked what are their obligations to such workers under the law? Can they terminate them, or do they have to accommodate them?

Continue Reading Recalled Workers Don’t Want to Return Because of Health Risks or Child Care – Now What?

During the past week or so, various federal agencies have issued additional COVID-19 guidance of significance (more or less) to employers, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). We summarize these developments below.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Agency Update: CDC and Essential Workers, EEOC and Non-Discrimination, OSHA and COVID-19 Recordkeeping/Enforcement, DOL and Unemployment Compensation Under CARES, and VETS and COVID-19 National Guard Service

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has declared it a “direct threat,” thereby loosening the restrictions on employee medical testing and inquiries under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It has updated its 2009 pandemic guidance and its “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19” resource accordingly.

Continue Reading EEOC Declares COVID-19 a “Direct Threat,” Updates 2009 Pandemic Guidance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has now directly addressed the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak by issuing “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Coronavirus.” In this release, the EEOC noted that the rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act (the counterpart to the ADA for federal employees and contractors) still apply, but do not interfere with workplace guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (which we discussed in detail in our February 2020 Top Tip).

Continue Reading The EEOC Weighs in on COVID-19

As I discussed in a blog post last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been bringing cases on behalf of applicants/employees who use lawfully prescribed opioids (including methadone) against employers who fail to conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant/employee to determine whether those drugs made them unqualified for the position. In EEOC v. Steel Painters LLC, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that a reasonable jury could find that the employer did just that.

Continue Reading Methadone User Can Sue Under ADA

In its latest edition of the Digest of EEO Law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission included an article entitled, “Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: An Overview of the Law and Recent Commission Decisions.” Although the article summarizes federal sector decisions, it provides guidance to private employers on the EEOC’s overall position on religious accommodations – and (just in time for Halloween) the conclusions are a little scary!

Continue Reading What Does the EEOC Think About Religious Accommodations? It’s Spooky!

As I was perusing a recently-released volume of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s quarterly Digest of EEO Law (as I am sadly wont to do – really, I need some new hobbies!), I came across an interesting article, “An Overview of Common Remedies Available in Disparate Treatment Claims of Discrimination.” (Of particular note, while the Digest, as well as the article, covers only federal sector employees, we’d expect the EEOC to take the same position with regard to private sector employees.) The article sets forth the types of remedies sought by the EEOC when it finds that an federal employee or applicant has been subjected to disparate treatment discrimination (meaning that they have been individually targeted). Although the majority of the list is rather routine, it does highlight some rather interesting remedies sought by the EEOC, of which employers should be aware.
Continue Reading The EEOC’s Approach to Remedies for Discrimination

Years ago, I wrote a blog post, “Two or More Genders? Gender Identity and the EEO-1 Form,” in which I discussed what employers should do when an employee refuses to identify as either male or female for purposes of EEO reporting. At that time, I spoke with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs about their approach to this issue (which was to assign a sex based on visual identification), but was never able to get the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to respond to me, despite multiple phone calls and emails. Well, now, the EEOC has offered some guidance on a related issue – reporting non-binary employees (those who do not identify as either male or female) on the EEO-1 Component 2 report.
Continue Reading Non-binary Employees and the EEO-1 Report

Last week, I attended a training seminar hosted by the EEOC.  Sharon Rennart, a Senior Attorney Advisor at the EEOC, presented in part on how the ADA may apply to employees with Opioid Use Disorder (“OUD”).  OUD may be diagnosed where there is a problematic pattern of use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, manifested over a 12-month period by the presence of at least two out of eleven elements, including:
Continue Reading What the EEOC Thinks About Opioid Use and the ADA