Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Jessup demolition contractor sued by Department of Labor for alleged discrimination

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a Jessup-based demolition contractor for allegedly discriminating against 162 Hispanic and African American workers.

The lawsuit filed with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges alleges that between 2011 and 2012, Potomac Abatement Inc. forced 145 Hispanic employees into lower-paying jobs and harassed them because of their race, and terminated 17 African American workers because of their race.

Potomac Abatement denied any wrongdoing.

"Potomac Abatement is committed to equal employment opportunity and affirmative action in the workplace and takes pride in being a high-quality, specialty contractor for various government agencies. Potomac regrets that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has chosen not to recognize the significant actions Potomac has taken to diversify its workforce and has chosen instead to file an administrative complaint," the company said in a statement.

Read more from the Baltimore Sun here.

EEOC Issues Final Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation


Today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues, to replace its 1998 Compliance Manual section on retaliation. The guidance also addresses the separate “interference” provision under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits coercion, threats, or other acts that interfere with the exercise of ADA rights.

The Commission has also issued two short user-friendly resource documents to accompany the new guidance: a question-and-answer publication that summarizes the guidance document, and a short Small Business Fact Sheet that condenses the major points in the guidance in non-legal language.

"Retaliation is asserted in nearly 45 percent of all charges we receive and is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "The examples and promising practices included in the guidance are aimed at assisting all employers reduce the likelihood of retaliation.  The public input provided during the development of this guidance was valuable to the Commission in producing a document to help employers prevent retaliation and to help employees understand their rights."

On Jan. 21, 2016, EEOC published a proposed guidance for public input on www.regulations.gov. The final guidance issued today reflects the Commission’s consideration of feedback received on the proposal from approximately 60 organizations and individuals representing a wide range of viewpoints. In preparing the final guidance, the agency also considered the stakeholder views expressed at the June 17, 2015 Commission Meeting held on this topic.

The guidance addresses retaliation under each of the statutes enforced by EEOC, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

Topics explained in the new guidance include:

  • The scope of employee activity protected by the law.
  • Legal analysis to be used to determine if evidence supports a claim of retaliation.
  • Remedies available for retaliation.
  • Rules against interference with the exercise of rights under the ADA.
  • Detailed examples of employer actions that may constitute retaliation.

Since EEOC’s 1998 Compliance Manual section on retaliation, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued seven decisions addressing retaliation under EEOC-enforced laws, and the filing of EEO claims that include a retali­ation allegation has continued to grow. Charges of retaliation surpassed race discrimination in 2009 as the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination, accounting for 44.5 percent of all charges received by EEOC in FY 2015. In the federal sector, retaliation has been the most frequently alleged basis since 2008, and retaliation findings comprised between 42 percent and 53 percent of all findings of EEO violations from 2009 to 2015.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination.  Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Keys to Harassment Prevention: An Interview With EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum

Chai Feldblum is a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She co-chaired the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, and produced a report in June of 2016, together with Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, that drew on the work of the task force.

Read the interview here.

College Profs Admit Affirmative Action is Failing Students, Get Called Racist

Professors at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. are being denounced as white supremacists after private messages were leaked in which they claim affirmative action sets up students for academic failure at the school.

The controversy in question concerns two letters sent by faculty in Smith’s School for Social Work to school administrators. Although the letters were initially private, they were leaked to students at the school by an unknown person, who said they wished to reveal the “violent, racist rhetoric directed toward students of color on the Smith campus.”

The first letter, sent by professor Dennis Miehls, warns that the school was failing in its “gatekeeper” function by admitting too many academically unprepared applicants.

“Why do you, as administrators, continue to offer differential outcomes to students of color, in spite of overwhelming data that demonstrates that many of our students, including white­-identified students, cannot offer clients a social work intervention that is based upon competence, skills and ethics,” Miehls said in his letter. Miehls went so far as to call the admissions process “tainted” because of how willing it was to admit unprepared non-white students.

Read more here.

Prof: affirmative action 'not necessary or desirable'

A political science professor claims that “it makes little sense to continue” affirmative action and contends that the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly when it recently upheld the practice.

Kul B. Rai, professor emeritus of political science at Southern Connecticut State University, speculates in an op-ed for the Republican American that if universities were to continue using racial preferences in admissions decisions, it “clearly would be at the cost of deserving white students,” because student diversity is already largely in line with the overall population.

“The origin of affirmative action stems from the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” he observes, noting that “President Lyndon Johnson had advocated ‘equality as a result,’ not just equality of opportunity.”

Rai cites statistics pertaining to racial breakdowns of college students to prove that equality in higher education, as desired by Johnson, has already been achieved.

Read more from Campus Reform here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Justice Dept. Sues New Mexico State U. Over Alleged Equal-Pay Violation

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against New Mexico State University, alleging that the university paid a female former assistant track coach significantly less than her male colleagues, the department announced on Thursday.

The department’s complaint accuses the university of paying the female coach, Meaghan Harkins, thousands of dollars less per year than it paid two male assistant track coaches with similar responsibilities. The department alleges that the university violated a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on sex.

Read more from the Chronicle here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Press Release: Federal Judge Awards $1,470,000 in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Case Against Z Foods


Federal Judge Awards $1,470,000 in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Case Against Z Foods

Workers Who Were Sexually Harassed and Fired for Complaining Vindicated in Court's Ruling

FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge has ordered Z Foods, Inc., once one of the largest dried fruit processors in the United States, to pay $1,470,000 in damages in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

EEOC had charged that Z Foods allowed male supervisors to sexually harass a class of female employees and fired male and female employees when they complained about the sexual harassment. The court awarded the maximum allowed by the statute, offset by a previous settlement, and ruled that the claimants suffered severe emotional distress as a result of actions of Z Foods.

The court found that two supervisors for the Madera, Calif.-based company subjected multiple female farmworkers to ongoing sexual harassment. The sexual harassment took the form of conditioning promotions and employment on sexual favors, continuous sexual advances, stalking female employees and unwanted physical touching and leering. Male employees, who witnessed the egregious harassment, complained about the abuse alongside their female employees. These employees were retaliated against and discharged soon after their complaint.

After an investigation, EEOC filed suit against both Z Foods and its predecessor, Zoria Farms, in September 2013 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleging that the sexual harassment and subsequent retaliation violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (EEOC v. Zoria Foods, Inc., Z Foods, Case No. 1:13-at-00698). In April 2015, Zoria Farms settled the EEOC claim against it for $330,000 and a five-year consent decree containing injunctive remedies.

"EEOC continues to see sexual harassment and retaliation in the agricultural industry," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District. "The solidarity that male employees displayed here in supporting and speaking up along with their female co-workers about the severe harassment is a critical component of remedying the pervasive problem of sexual harassment. The court's findings vindicate the courage it took for these workers to stand up and demand a workplace free of sexual harassment."

Melissa Barrios, director of EEOC's Fresno Local Office, added, "Workers have the right to voice their concerns about a sexually hostile work environment without fearing repercussions from their employer. With this ruling, the court sends the message that employers who ignore or punish employees for complaining of harassment leave themselves open to greater liability."

Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Supreme Court Blocks Order Allowing Transgender Student Restroom Choice

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys' bathroom in a Virginia high school.

The vote was 5-3, with Justice Stephen G. Breyer joining the court's more conservative members "as a courtesy." He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The court's order has no effect on any other case.

The move came amid a national debate over transgender rights. A North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use bathrooms in government buildings that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates has drawn protests, boycotts and lawsuits. A directive from the Obama administration threatening schools with the loss of federal money for discrimination based on gender identity has been challenged in court by more than 20 states.

Read more from the NY Times here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise to Pay $150,000 to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Doughnut Franchise Manager Sexually Harassed Young Female Employees, Some in Their Teens, and Retaliated Against Worker Who Resisted Advances, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK - Hillcrest Marshall, Inc., which owns multiple Dunkin' Donuts franchises in Westchester County, N.Y., will pay $150,000 to former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to EEOC's lawsuit, Hillcrest Marshall violated federal law by subjecting female employees, some of whom were in their teens at the time, to sexual harassment by a store manager at one of its Dunkin' Donuts locations. For example, EEOC said, the store manager talked about his genitals, tried to kiss a female worker who was 20 years old at the time, and pressured her to have sex. The manager hit her, cursed and yelled at her regularly due to being rejected by her. When she contacted the police, she was fired in retaliation for resisting his advances, EEOC said.

Read more here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Massachusetts Just Took a Big Step Toward Closing the Wage Gap

The Massachusetts Legislature unanimously passed the strongest equal pay law in the country during a rare weekend session on July 23, and it is waiting for Republican Gov. Charlie Baker's signature.

Sen. Karen Spilka, a co-sponsor of the bill, told the Boston Herald that the measure "finally put a nail in the coffin of the gender pay gap."

Read more by Mother Jones here.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Colonial Parking, Inc. settles charges of hiring, pay discrimination with US Labor Department after contractor compliance review

ARLINGTON, Va. – The largest parking operator in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area has entered into a conciliation agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to resolve allegations of race-based hiring and pay discrimination.

Colonial Parking, Inc. entered into the agreement after an OFCCP compliance evaluation found that the company discriminated against African-American applicants for project manager positions at its District-area parking facilities. The agency also found the company paid African-American parking valet attendants less than their Hispanic coworkers; on average, the African-American valet attendants made $2,100 less per year than Hispanic employees in the same position, regardless of the job assignment and location. OFCCP determined that these actions violated Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race, color or national origin.

Read more here.

EEO-1 Survey for 2016 Now Open

WASHINGTON -- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has completed its mailing of the 2016 EEO-1 Survey notification letters. The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report. The filing of the EEO-1 report is not voluntary and is required by federal law, Section 709(c), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; and §1602.7-§1602.14, Title 29, Chapter XIV, of the Federal Code of Regulations. The annual filing deadline is Sept. 30

The EEO-1 report provides valuable employment data by race/ethnicity, gender and job categories, and is used by researchers, private attorneys, human resource staff, etc. in developing affirmative action plans, and in the Commission's enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Read more here.

EEOC and ADP Enter into Settlement in Mutual Effort to Improve Employment Opportunities for Minorities in Illinois

CHICAGO - ADP, LLC, a leading payroll processing and human resource management outsourcing provider, has agreed to voluntarily resolve employment discrimination charges filed in Illinois with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. As the result of successful conciliation efforts between the parties, ADP has agreed to pay nearly $1.4 million and to further enhance its recruitment, hiring and promotion of minorities at its Illinois-based operations. ADP has also agreed to periodically inform EEOC on its future efforts to expand employment opportunities for minority applicants and employees.

This agreement resolves charges filed with EEOC alleging that black and Hispanic individuals were discriminated against by ADP. The matter has now been resolved without any admission by ADP that it engaged in any violation.

Read more here.

Abigail Fisher: Affirmative action plaintiff 'proud' of academic record

"I'm a plaintiff in a pretty interesting Supreme Court case that's been to the Supreme Court twice," says the young woman sitting across the table from me, introducing herself for the tape as I adjust the levels on my recorder.

That's putting it mildly. Abigail Fisher's case against the University of Texas at Austin (UT) thrust her into the very centre of heated and overlapping public debates about race and identity, integration, privilege and education in the United States.

Fisher brought the case because she wanted to stop the university from using race in the admissions process, arguing that as a white woman she had lost out on a place because preferential treatment was given to black and other minority students.

But in June 2016 the Supreme Court decided to uphold UT's affirmative action practices and reject her complaint.

Read the full BBC story here.

Nabors Industries and C&J Energy Services Sued By EEOC for Racial Harassment and Retaliation

Oilfield Services Company Subjected Black Employees to Slurs and Mistreatment and Then Fired Employees for Reporting the Discrimination, Federal Agency Charged

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Bermuda-based oilfield services companies Nabors Industries, Ltd. and C&J Energy Services, Ltd., Civil Action 05:16-CV-758-FB, violated federal law through widespread racial harassment of African-American employees and punishing those who complained about the abuse, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

Read more here.

Sealed Air Sued By EEOC for Sex-Based Pay and National Origin Discrimination

Federal Agency Charges Sealed Air Corp., d/b/a Kevothermal LLC, Paid Female Production Supervisor Less Than Male, Imposed Language Restriction

Albuquerque, NM. -Sealed Air Corporation, a protective packaging business, violated federal law by paying a female production supervisor lower wages than its male production supervisor and by discriminating against her because of her national origin, Hispanic, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

Read more here.

White South Africans complain affirmative action policy is causing them to face discrimination

White South Africans say it has become harder for them to get a job because of a policy aimed at helping to rectify past apartheid wrongs, called black economic empowerment.

The policy has imposed quotas on government positions to ensure black South Africans are appropriately represented in the public sector.

But there has been an unintended by-product, with more and more white South Africans saying they have been finding it difficult to get a job and are living in poverty.

Read the complete story by ABC here.