Can the EEOC require employers to hire convicted criminals? Last April, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a policy guideline that calls into question the extent to which employers can incorporate a check of criminal records into a hiring decision without risking legal liability. Read More
Gary R. Siniscalco
Gary Siniscalco, a partner in the San Francisco office, is a member of the employment law group. Mr. Siniscalco has developed special expertise in equal opportunity, affirmative action (OFCCP) compliance, wrongful discharge, wage-and-hour matters and in working with companies on cross-border employment issues. His practice involves both employment litigation and counseling. He has handled numerous class actions, pattern and practice cases and government audits, in court and before the EEOC and Department of Labor.
Gary is widely recognized as one the top management employment lawyers in the United States by every major ranking organization, including Chambers USA, the National Law Journal, Best of the Best USA (Euromoney), Super Lawyers and Who’s Who Legal. Among management employment lawyers in the United States and Europe, Gary is ranked in the top 10 of Who’s Who international management labor and employment lawyers and is described as “absolutely superb.”
Gary’s extensive practice in class actions includes litigation, consent decree strategies and preventive advice. Gary has also been designated as an expert or retained as special counsel in several federal court class actions. Gary’s counseling practice extends beyond the United States and includes assisting U.S. multinational companies in dealing with employee issues in foreign jurisdictions. He has written numerous articles on employment law. Most recently, he is Management Editor-in-Chief of a two-volume treatise--Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets in Employment Law: An International Survey (BNA, 2010). Gary also was co-author of "The Law of Employment Discrimination from 1985-2010," Journal of the ABA Labor & Employment Law Section, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Spring 2010).
Some of Gary’s current representations include several EEOC commissioner’s charge and individual claims of race and national origin discrimination in use of criminal background checks against a major financial services company; a commissioner’s charge alleging race discrimination in hiring and promotions; a multi-employee race promotion and pay case against a major retail store chain; EEOC Equal Pay Act investigations; and OFCCP systemic pay and promotion audits.
Prior to joining Orrick, Gary served as regional counsel and senior trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in San Francisco.
The United States Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, Case No. 11-864 (March 27, 2013) reinforces class certification requirements as spelled out in Wal-Mart v. Dukes. However, the closely divided court (5-4) and a strong dissent underscore that the battle over class certification standards may be far from over. While Comcast involved antitrust claims, the Court’s decision has implications for all Rule 23 cases, including employment class actions. Read More
Welcome to the Winter 2013 edition of Orrick World: A Quarterly Report of Global Employment Law Issues for Multinationals. We have designed this newsletter to provide our multinational clients with quarterly updates on important employment law issues across the globe.
As we currently reported on our January 9 blog, on Dec. 17, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its strategic enforcement plan (SEP). The SEP resulted from the broader strategic plan unveiled by the EEOC earlier this year, outlining the commission’s activities for 2012-2016. The SEP confirms that combating systemic discrimination will be one of the EEOC’s primary objectives. Read Orrick’s “EEOC’s Plan May Mean Narrower, More Aggressive Oversight” on Law360.
On December 17, 2012, the EEOC released its Strategic Enforcement Plan. As previously reported, the EEOC released the draft SEP for public comment on September 4, 2012, with a plan to vote on and implement it by October 1. The more than two month delay suggests that the Commission reviewed the more than 100 comments to the draft and may have also been internally conflicted over portions of the draft (the Commission’s final vote was 3-1). Read More
On December 10, 2012, in Veronese v. Lucasfilm Ltd., a California Court of Appeal overturned a Marin County jury’s verdict against Lucasfilm based on its finding that several errors in jury instructions prejudicially affected the verdict. Plaintiff had sued under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) for pregnancy discrimination and related claims when she accepted, but did not start, in a temporary position at Lucasfilm. After eleven days of testimony and three days of deliberation, a jury awarded Veronese a total of $113,800 in damages and the trial court awarded Veronese $1,157,411 in attorneys’ fees. Lucasfilm challenged both the judgment and the fee award. Lucasfilm argued that the trial court judge erred in giving certain instructions proposed by Veronese, failing to give certain instructions proposed by Lucasfilm, and failing to instruct on certain issues submitted to the jury. Notably, this Court of Appeal decision appears to be the first California appellate decision reversing a jury verdict for an employee based on failure to give a business judgment instruction. Read More
Welcome to the second edition of Orrick World: A Quarterly Report of Global Employment Law Issues for Multinationals. We have designed this newsletter to provide our multinational clients with quarterly updates on important employment law issues across the globe.
On September 4, 2012, the EEOC released for comment its draft Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). The EEOC invited the public to comment on the SEP by September 18, 2012, with a plan to vote on the draft at the end of September 2012 and to have the SEP become effective October 1. But that time has now passed with no word from the Commission. This suggests that the Commission is closely evaluating the comments submitted and considering which, if any, to incorporate into the final plan. There may also be disagreement within the Commission over portions of the draft plan. As a result, we do not expect the EEOC to issue the final SEP until mid-October at the earliest. Read More
Last month the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a $3.5 million punitive damages award against an employer for failure to “stiffen its efforts” to respond to an employee’s harassment complaints. See May v. Chrysler Group, LLC, Nos. 11-2012 and 11-3109, U.S. App. LEXIS 17820, at *30 (7th Cir. Aug. 23, 2012). May, who is Cuban Jewish, worked as a pipefitter at a Chrysler assembly plant and was subjected to racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic graffiti over the course of a three-year period. The harassment involved over 70 incidents of hateful graffiti, death-threat notes left in May’s toolbox, and threatening phone calls. The harassers vandalized May’s car, struck him in the back with a flying object, punctured his bike and car tires several times, poured sugar in his car tank twice, and left at his work station a dead bird wrapped in toilet paper to look like a Ku Klux Klansman. At Chrysler’s request, May identified 19 employees he had reason to suspect, including two employees who had a history of making racist comments, as well as the husband of the human resources supervisor assigned to May’s case. Chrysler did not interview any of the suspects. The only issue at trial and on appeal was whether Chrysler was liable for the hostile work environment to which May had been subjected—that is, whether Chrysler failed to respond “promptly and adequately” in a manner likely to end the harassment.
Chrysler’s response to the harassment included a meeting with the head of HR reminding employees at the plant about Chrysler’s harassment policy, implementation of a protocol for handling incidents of harassment against May, an investigation of who was at the plant at the time of the incidents, and retaining a forensic document examiner. The jury found that Chrysler “did not take steps reasonably intended to stop the harassment” and awarded compensatory damages against Chrysler in the amount of $709,000, as well as punitive damages in the amount of $3.5 million. On a post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law, the District Court agreed that there was sufficient evidentiary basis for the jury to find the employer liable, particularly in light of the “long period of time” during which May endured the harassment, the fact that Chrysler’s response did not adapt or escalate as the harassment continued, Chrysler’s reliance on the same reactionary response despite its obvious ineffectiveness as a deterrent, and Chrysler’s failure to investigate every incident of harassment. May v. Chrysler Group LLC, No. 02 C 50440, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73378, at *11-15 (N.D. Ill. July 7, 2011). The district court nonetheless remitted the compensatory damages award from $709,000 to $300,000 on the ground that there was no rational connection between the award and the evidence since the plaintiff had not presented any evidence of actual damages, such as medical bills, and emotional distress alone did not justify such a high award. Furthermore, the district court vacated the punitive damages award, finding that while Chrysler’s response was potentially “imperfect and somewhat lacking,” it did not reach the level of “callousness and intentional disregard of plaintiff’s right” to support a punitive damages award. Read More
Consistent with the mandate under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Treasury Department issued a proposed rule that would require contractors doing business with the agency to confirm their commitment to equal opportunity in employment and contracting. The rule would amend the Department of the Treasury Acquisition Regulation to require any entity entering a contract with the agency to insert a statement in each contract that it has made affirmative efforts to include women and minorities in its workforce. If the contractor in turn enters into a subcontractor arrangement to carry out the government contract, the contractor must include the same provision in any such subcontract that has a monetary value of more than $150,000.
In addition to the specific contractual provisions, the proposed rule would provide the Treasury Department with an opportunity to request information from the contractor to demonstrate that the contractor has made a “good faith effort” to satisfy its commitment to diversity. The proposed regulation explains that the documentation that may be requested to demonstrate this “good faith effort” can include: (1) an EEO-1 report of the contractor’s employees, detailing the number of employees and the number of minority and women employees; (2) a list of subcontract awards under the contract at issue, including the dollar amount of such subcontract award, the date of the award, and the subcontractor’s race, ethnicity and gender; (3) EEO-1 data for subcontractors performing work under the contract; and (4) the contractor’s plan to ensure that minorities and women “have appropriate opportunities to enter and advance within its workforce, including outreach efforts.” Failing to comply with these obligations can result in loss of the contract. Read More