Enhanced Government Enforcement

On April 8, 2014, in recognition of National Equal Pay Day, President Obama continued to advance his wage equality agenda by focusing on wage transparency through Executive Order on Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information (“Executive Order”) and a Presidential Memorandum entitled “Advancing Pay Equality Through Compensation Data Collection” (“Presidential Memorandum”).

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Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its fiscal year 2013 enforcement and litigation statistical report. Each year, the EEOC publishes a comprehensive set of data tables which contain statistics on topics such as numbers of charges filed, types of charges filed, litigation and resolution numbers, and a myriad of other tables that provide insight into the agency’s actions over the 12-month period.
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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that it won what it describes as a “historic” verdict last week when an Iowa federal jury awarded $240 million to a group of intellectually disabled plant workers who were subjected to disability-based discrimination and harassment.  The award is the largest in the agency’s history.  The EEOC’s General Counsel, David Lopez, remarked that the verdict is “one of the EEOC’s finest moments in its ongoing efforts to combat employment discrimination.”


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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) recently approved a new Strategic Enforcement Plan to establish national enforcement priorities and provide more transparency for employers who may find themselves the subject of EEOC investigations.  After soliciting public and internal recommendations, the EEOC approved a plan that identifies six specific areas in which the agency believes increased enforcement will result in the most change. 


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The EEOC is targeting pregnancy discrimination in several states.  The EEOC has filed a string of recent cases in an apparent attempt to crack down on workplace discrimination against pregnant women.  A California-based security guard contractor was recently sued by the EEOC on September 20 after it terminated a female employee when she tried to return to work after her pregnancy leave.  A week later, a Texas-based restaurant was also sued after terminating eight pregnant employees. The restaurant allegedly had in place a written policy that instructed managers to terminate pregnant employees three months into their pregnancies.  One of the fired employees was terminated pursuant to the policy even though her doctor had cleared her to work without restrictions until the 36th week of her pregnancy.   In another restaurant-related complaint, this one filed September 27, the EEOC sued a Florida-based restaurant in Panama City, Florida for terminating two pregnant waitresses.  According to the EEOC, the restaurant told pregnant workers that their pregnancies made them a “liability” to the company.  In a related matter, the EEOC is seeking an injunction against a Michigan juvenile detention center to prevent it from maintaining a policy that requires women to immediately notify the company when they become pregnant.


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In several prior blog entries, we told you about the NLRB’s new requirement that employers post a notice regarding employee rights under the NLRA.  Employers have been following the story with interest.

Initially proposed by the NLRB in December 2010, the new posting tells employees about their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).  The new requirement initially had an effective date of November 14, 2011, but it has been delayed several times.  The NLRB first delayed implementation until January 31, 2012, to allow “for further education and outreach.”  Then, several industry groups and businesses filed federal lawsuits in South Carolina and Washington, D.C., challenging the NLRB’s Final Rule.  The groups argued the NLRB did not have statutory authority to issue the notice requirement.  While the lawsuits were pending, in the District of Columbia and South Carolina, the NLRB agreed to further delay implementation until April 30, 2012.


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The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) budget request for next year reflects its intent to increase aggressive enforcement.  The OFCCP, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the agency charged with enforcing the affirmative action obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors.   Approximately 25% of the American workforce is employed by federal contractors and subcontractors, whose federal contracts total more than $700 billion annually.  The OFCCP’s proposed budget for FY 2013 is now available online.

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