I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, and many of us are just pretending that life has returned to normal. But, just as the darned variants continue to evolve, so does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s What You Should Know About COVID and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws guidance. This week, the EEOC updated a number of its Q&As, with some more targeted guidance for employers. Of particular interest (at least to this management-side attorney) are the newly-identified factors that employers should consider to establish a business-necessity for viral testing and those that are relevant to the direct threat assessment. Here’s our summary of most of the updated questions:
Have you read the warnings on prescription painkillers? They can be pretty scary – “May cause drowsiness.” “May cause dizziness.” “Do not operate a car or dangerous machinery.” (Or words to that effect). I think by now, everyone is aware of the risks associated with controlled substances. Certainly, the opioid epidemic did not earn its name lightly. So it’s not surprising that some employers are concerned when employees take prescription medications that come with those warnings – particularly when those employees are working with heavy machinery or sharp objects, or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. But it is important for employers to understand when they can – and cannot – prohibit employees on such medications from working.
When considering a request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers focus on what will enable an employee to perform the essential functions of their job. But the reasonable accommodation obligation is actually broader than that. As set forth in the EEOC’s regulations, employers must also provide reasonable accommodations that enable an employee with a disability “to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.” And this encompasses certain activity outside the workplace – such as parking.
As reported in the New York Times, more than two dozen employees were injured last week during a team-building activity in which they walked over hot coals in their bare feet (?!!!). The Times described that “Ten ambulances, two emergency medical teams and police officers from multiple agencies were deployed to help, according to the Zurich police. Thirteen people were briefly hospitalized.” The Times further noted that this activity – originally a religious ritual found in a number of cultures – has become popular as a corporate team-building exercise in recent years. (Ummmmm….)
Under a 2018 law, Maryland employers with 50 or more employees are required to submit a report by July 1, 2022 to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights regarding any sexual harassment settlements during the past two years.
In today’s episode of “They Really Made a Federal Case Out of That?” the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) rejected a union’s claim that a hotel employer was obligated to bargain its decision, or the effects of its decision, to purchase and use fluffier king size pillows in its hotel rooms. (Your tax dollars at work, my friends!) Continue Reading Hotel Did Not Need to Bargain Over Puffier Pillows, says NLRB…
In this third (and final) post of our mini-series based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s pay discrimination article, we’ll take a look at the barriers to pay equity identified by the EEOC and their suggestions for preventing pay discrimination. As previously noted, the EEOC issues a quarterly digest of EEO law that sometimes includes an article, like this one, providing insight into the EEOC’s approach to (and expansion of!) discrimination protections for employees. Again, while the EEOC’s article is focused on the federal workplace, many of their observations and action items are equally applicable to the private workplace. Our first post discussed pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, and the second addressed the intersectionality and sex-plus discrimination theories. So now we move from the legal theories to the practical considerations.
In my first blog post in this little series based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s article “In Pursuit of Pay Examining Barriers to Equal Pay, Intersectional Discrimination Theory, and Recent Pay Equity Initiatives,” I covered the EEOC’s explanation of the difference between pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. (As I explained last time, the EEOC issues a quarterly Digest of EEO Law that occasionally contains articles of interest to the private employer community. Prior articles that I’ve shared include those on fragmentation of harassment claims, religious discrimination, comparing harassment prevention to crime prevention, and new types of race discrimination, among other things). In this post, we’ll review the EEOC’s take on intersectionality (one of the EEOC’s new favorite topics) and sex-plus discrimination in the context of pay discrimination claims. Continue Reading The EEOC Speaks: Pay Discrimination – Intersectionality and Sex-Plus
So, as you may or may not know, I periodically review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s quarterly Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law for fun. (I know, I need a better hobby). Among the summaries of recent EEOC decisions and federal court opinions related to the federal workplace, a digest might also contain an in-depth article on a particularly hot area of interest to the EEOC. Although the articles are targeted towards federal agencies, as I’ve previously noted, they offer private employers a roadmap as to the EEOC’s thinking. And the most recent article is just chock full of interesting tidbits about pay discrimination – a topic of particular focus for the Biden administration. In fact, the article is so jam-packed, I’m going to break it up into a few different blog posts, starting off with this one, which covers the EEOC’s discussion of the Equal Pay Act v. Title VII. I’ve boiled down the EEOC’s discussion into a more direct comparison of the differences.
In all states but Montana, employment is presumed to be at-will, meaning that either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause or notice. That is, EXCEPT if there’s an employment contract (including a collective bargaining agreement for unionized employees) or where the termination would violate a law (like anti-discrimination statutes or other statutes that specifically prohibit termination for exercising certain employee rights, like taking protected leave) – or (of relevance here) where it would violate public policy.