The United States Supreme Court recently resolved a Circuit Court split on the appropriate standard of review of a District Court’s decision whether to enforce a subpoena issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).  In McLane Co., Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 15-1248, 581 U.S. __ (April 3, 2017), the Court held that such a decision should be reviewed only to determine whether the District Court abused its discretion – a deferential standard of review.  This conclusion was fairly uncontroversial.  Indeed, the abuse of discretion standard has long been used for review of decisions whether to enforce administrative subpoenas (such as those issued by the National Labor Relations Board). Historically, however, the Ninth Circuit alone has used a de novo standard of review in these circumstances, while the seven other U.S. Courts of Appeal to have addressed this issue all applied the more deferential standard.  The Ninth Circuit panel itself questioned why de novo review applied, in light of the substantial authority to the contrary, and the Supreme Court took the case to resolve this circuit split.

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On March 27, 2017, President Trump signed H.J. Res. 37, blocking the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule, the controversial rule enacted by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council in August 2016, that legislators have criticized as a method to blackball federal contractors. The bill’s signing follows the U.S. Senate’s March 6, 2017 vote of 49-48 (along party lines) to formally disapprove of the rule.
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Hunton & Williams recently published an entry on its Retail Law Resource Blog regarding what employers can expect from Victoria Lipnic, the new acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and an EEOC Commissioner since 2010. Since that publication, Lipnic has made public comments as to what she envisions from the EEOC under her leadership.
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On November 21, 2016, the EEOC announced the release of new enforcement guidance addressing national origin discrimination. Like many enforcement initiatives of late, the update is intended to address current cultural issues and legal developments. It updates an EEOC compliance manual section from 2002 (Volume II, Section 13: National Origin Discrimination). For employers who have been following court decisions in this area, the guidance may not convey much new information. But, it makes clear the agency’s position in a number of areas that may continue to present workplace challenges under Donald Trump’s administration.
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Enforcing a race-neutral grooming policy that prohibits employees from wearing dreadlocks is not intentional racial discrimination under Title VII. That is what the Eleventh Circuit recently held in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Catastrophe Management Solutions, — F.3d —, No. 14-13482, 2016 WL 4916851 (11th Cir. Sept. 15, 2016).
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Recently, the federal government has highlighted the issue of religious discrimination and accommodation in the workplace. Given the diversity of most workplaces, especially retailers, employers should be particularly sensitive to the potential risks of religious discrimination and harassment claims, as well as its obligations to accommodate reasonable religious-based requests for workplace changes.
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The Fifth Circuit held recently that the State of Texas had standing to sue the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) over the Commission’s “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII” (the “Guidance”) issued in April 2012, which warned employers that blanket policies against hiring felons could disproportionately exclude minorities and thus be deemed discriminatory.
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On March 1, 2016, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) sued employers for the first time for sexual orientation discrimination. The EEOC filed lawsuits in federal courts in Pittsburgh and Baltimore against manufacturing and health care employers for unlawful sex discrimination on behalf of employees alleging they were harassed and discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.
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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has implemented nationwide procedures which require all EEOC offices to release copies of an Employer’s entire position statement, together with all non-confidential documents submitted in support of the position statement, to an Employee who has filed a discrimination charge, or his or her representative (including attorneys).
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