Posted by Ryan Howard on Fri, Oct 23, 2015
EEOC in the Headlines
Star Wars and Back to the Future aren't the only stories in the headlines this month. The EEOC recently filed 62 lawsuits during the month of September alone. In fact, they filed more lawsuits this past fiscal year than they did in the previous year. A majority of the lawsuits were Title VII with race discrimination lawsuits up year over year. Interesting to note, current EEOC litigation involves cutting edge suits that test the boundaries of the law. Here are the latest EEOC headlines.
National Tire and Battery to Settle EEOC Religious Suit
National Tire and Battery will pay over $20,000 to a former Arab and Muslim employee who was harrassed because of his national origin and religious affiliation. NTB will also be required to provide training to managers and set up a system to report other complaints about harassment due to national origin or religion. Harassment at work due to country of origin or religion violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
See also: How to Avoid EEOC Claims and Litigation
Funeral Home in Pending Lawsuit with Transgender Employee
In a case that is going to trial, an employee at a Michigan funeral home was fired when he revealed to employers that he was transitioning to a woman.The funeral home has tried to get the case dismissed because they don't believe Title VII includes violations against transgender only gender. The employee is stating that during her transition, she would be dressing in women's clothing. She says she was fired from her position because she would not be conforming to the funeral home's gender-based preferences.
The EEOC is litigating for back pay for the employee and compensation for her job search and other expenses. This case is being watched closely to see if the EEOC will include transgender to the list of employment discrimination protections.
EEOC Begins Probe into Hollywood Gender Discrimination
With so much talk about sexism among Hollywood films and filmmakers, the EEOC has reached out to 50 women filmmakers to "learn more about gender-related issues". Marie Giese has been challenging the commission to take on the hiring practices in Hollywood for the past 2 years. Because the EEOC wouldn't address the industry as a whole, and Giese didn't want women filmmakers to be blacklisted, she took her complaints to the ACLU. The ACLU of Southern California and the National ACLU Women's Right's Project have taken on the task of urging state and federal rights agencies to investigate the discrimination. The EEOC investigation could possibly lead to a class-action lawsuit.
Gay Man files EEOC Complaint against Catholic Diocese
An employee in Virginia was hired and then fired from a Catholic assisted living facility for being gay and being married to his partner. Initial applications and hiring paperwork was completed by the employee and he was told that his sexual orientation would not be a problem. Upon receiving the paperwork and learning that the employee was gay and married to a man, the bishop of the diocese demanded his immediate termination without severance pay or benefits. The employee's lawsuit claims that he is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act due to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Catholic diocese is fighting the claim due to their religious beliefs.
Ban the Box Gains Attention at the Federal Level
More than 19 states have passed their own ban the box legislation prohibiting the use of the checkbox on job applications indicating if candidates have a criminal record. Earlier this month, a Senate committee voted unanimously on the Fair Chance Act. The Fair Chance Act regulates that federal agencies and contractors are not allowed to ask applicant to disclose criminal histories before making conditional job offers. The EEOC also prohibits denying employment based on a criminal history and requires that the decision to deny employment must be job-related. If an employer seeks to deny employment based on a criminal record, they must examine the nature and gravity of the offense, the time since the conviction and/or completion of a sentence, and the nature of the job held or sought.
Because so many states, cities, counties and employers have their own way of banning the box, employers may have difficulty keeping up with the latest requirement. With the passing of the Fair Chance Act, employers can only hope that federal standards will be next.
With the EEOC in the forefront of workplace discrimination, especially in the light of so many changes in recent years, employers tackle the challenge of staying abreast of lawsuits and their outcomes. At VeriFirst, we want to make sure that your hiring practices stay compliant. Contact us today or leave a comment below if you have any questions about EEOC compliance for your business.