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
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
Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment orders in a Title VII sex discrimination case against Cintas Corporation, holding that the EEOC (the intervening plaintiff) should have been allowed to pursue a pattern-or-practice claim under §706 of Title VII using the analytical framework set forth in Int’l Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324 (1977). The decision rejects the notion that the Teamsters framework can only be used in cases brought under § 707 of Title VII, paving the way for the EEOC to pursue pattern-and-practice claims under § 706, which allows for the recovery of punitive and compensatory damages.
In Serrano et al. v. Cintas Corp., the EEOC challenged hiring practices used for women who applied to work as truck-driving sales representatives in Michigan. The district court dismissed the EEOC’s pattern-or-practice claim on the grounds that the agency pled the claim under § 706 rather than § 707, which provides specific authorization for such claims. The district court also granted summary judgment for Cintas on thirteen individual claims that the EEOC had pursued, analyzing them under the McDonnell-Douglas framework. Read More
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
On August 15, 2012, a panel commissioned by the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) issued a report concluding that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) should not collect earnings data by gender, race and national origin from private employers until the agencies develop a clearly articulated plan regarding how the data will be used to further their enforcement responsibilities. The panel also made several recommendations to assist the agencies in preparing to collect such data. Read More
Last week, Senate Democrats found themselves seven votes short in their most recent effort to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (“PFA”)—an effort which began in 2005, when Hillary Clinton first introduced the bill. But the Democrats’ continuing effort to paint the issue of equal pay as one of employer bias likely is not over. Read More
Following a growing trend among states, Ohio recently introduced legislation to bar employers from requiring current or prospective employees to provide access to their private social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. Although to date Maryland is the only state with a law on the books prohibiting employers from requiring or requesting access to a current or prospective employee’s private social media accounts (Maryland’s law does not go into effect until October 1, 2012), approximately a dozen other states are considering similar legislation, including California, Delaware, Illinois and New York. Click here for a list of the state bills. Read More
On Wednesday, April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new enforcement guidance regarding the use of criminal conviction and arrest records in employment decisions. The EEOC has had a long-standing policy that, unless job-related and justified by business necessity, a policy or practice of denying employment because an applicant has a criminal record violates Title VII. The new enforcement guidance, however, emphasizes EEOC’s presumption that consideration of a criminal history is unlawful, and undoubtedly illustrates the increased scrutiny under which EEOC will review criminal background check policies. Click here to view the new guidance on the EEOC’s website. Read More
In a decision issued April 23, 2012, the EEOC held that gender-identity discrimination-or discrimination against transgender individuals because they are transgender-constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII. This decision builds on the Supreme Court’s decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins in 1989, which held that the prohibition against sex discrimination includes protection for people who do not conform to gender stereotypes. The EEOC also held that, even if stereotyping was not involved, an employment decision made on the basis of the fact that an employee had a change of sex would be considered sex discrimination under the law. Since transgender employees report facing workplace discrimination at high levels, this decision, coupled with an increasing number of states that now include sexual identity as a protected category under their anti-discrimination statutes, may spark an increase in claims brought on this basis.