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:

Continue Reading The EEOC Updates Its COVID Guidance for Employers – Testing, Accommodations, Direct Threat and More

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.

Continue Reading Employers – Don’t Automatically Assume Prescription Meds Pose a Danger in the Workplace

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….)

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: Perhaps Firewalking Is Not the Best Team-building Activity…

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.

Continue Reading The EEOC Speaks: Pay Discrimination – Barriers and Suggested Actions

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

Although COVID-19 is still very much present, we see improvement in the COVID-19 numbers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now significantly eased their mask recommendations– although not entirely. Employers may wish to review their workplace masking requirements and other COVID-19 protocols in light of the new guidance, as well as the diminishing restrictions at the state and local level.
Continue Reading What the CDC’s Latest Mask Guidance Means for Employers

Is it considered identify theft? Interview fraud? Maybe something like the prank that Jim and Pam pulled on Dwight when they replaced Jim with an actor? Whatever it is, employers should beware that applicants are no longer just puffing the proficiency of their skills, but have come up with surprisingly bold and creative ways to fraudulently secure a job through the virtual interview process.

One recent example of what the New York Times terms “extensive image creation” was reported by askamanager.org. A company’s new hire turned out not to be the same person that was interviewed for the position. After three rounds of interviews, one of the hiring managers noticed that something was off with their new hire after a little over a week on the job. The first signs that something was afoot included the new hire wearing glasses when he had worn none during his interview, and he had completely different hair. The new hire had previously made references to being single during his interview from an indoor desk area, but he now spoke with coworkers about having to work in the garage because his three children and wife were at home. He also “re-introduced” himself to an HR Business Partner who was on two of three rounds of interviews and had extensive discussions with the new hire. Even more, the new hire couldn’t answer questions which were pivotal to the position even though they were previously confidently and articulately discussed in the interview.

Continue Reading Who are you and what did you do with my job candidate?

Here’s another entry in our occasional series of really bad behavior in the workplace – police officers who decided to continue playing Pokémon Go rather than respond to a robbery in progress! And then had the chutzpah to challenge their firing despite the fact that their gaming activity – and astonishing decision not to respond to the call for assistance with the robbery – was recorded by their in-car video-system!

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: No Pokémon Go While Policing!!

Determining pay based on gender is wrong. It’s also pernicious. The domino effect of an inappropriately depressed starting wage can impact pay for one’s lifetime. It’s also illegal under Federal and State anti-discrimination laws; pay decisions must be based on the job, not protected characteristics, including a person’s gender. Beyond these laws, which often address alleged violations after-the-fact, pay equity increasingly is being dealt with by State laws prohibiting inquiries about past salary and/or that require employers to provide applicants with salary ranges for the job they are seeking. The goal is to head off discrimination and stop the dominos from tumbling toward a lifetime of depressed wages. All of these laws are premised on the statistics that show women earn roughly 83 % of wages earned by men.

Continue Reading Pay Equity – What’s Good for the Gander is Good for the Goose?

As predicted by most legal observers, a split U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100+ employees to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing/face coverings for their workforce. However, it has lifted the partial stay of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Interim Final Rule mandating vaccination of workers of most Medicare- and Medicaid-certified healthcare entities.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Stays Vax-or-Test ETS But Allows CMS Vaccine Mandate – What Employers Need to Know