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

A recent case caused me significant concern on behalf of employers. As you may know, before an employee may file a federal discrimination lawsuit against their employer, they must first file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (And, on a related note, just recently, the U.S. Supreme Court held that this charge-filing requirement was a procedural one that could be waived by the employer, as we discussed in our E-lert). But what happens if the EEOC never notifies the employer of the charge?
Continue Reading Penalizing the Employer for the EEOC’s Mistake?

Just in time for Father’s Day, JPMorgan has agreed to pay $5 million dollars to settle a class action lawsuit based on a discriminatory parental leave policy. We previously blogged about this case when the ACLU announced that it was filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a JPMorgan dad. (and you can check out that blog post for a deeper explanation of the legal underpinnings of this issue, if you’re really interested). But this settlement provides an emphatic (and timely!) reminder to employers to take a look at their maternity/paternity or parental leave policies to make sure they don’t run afoul of the law.
Continue Reading Hey – New Dads Need Leave Too!

A more conservative Supreme Court than we’ve seen in recent history is poised to consider whether Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination based on “sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a trio of cases in the 2019-2020 term, which begins in October. We previously wrote on this topic here as the Circuit split was developing.

Not even the federal government tasked with enforcing employment discrimination laws agrees on whether Title VII covers sexual orientation. The Department of Justice reversed course during the Trump administration and now takes the position that sexual orientation is not covered, whereas the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is holding firm to its position, first adopted in 2015, that sexual orientation is covered, as is gender identity. Additionally, under an Executive Order signed by President Obama (not yet rescinded by President Trump) and enforced by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, federal contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in addition to (and separate from) sex.
Continue Reading Does “Sex” Encompass Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity? The Supremes Will Soon Decide.