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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As the 2013 open enrollment season approaches, group health plan sponsors are trying to hold down health care costs.  Implementing a wellness program may be part of that effort.  The difficulty lies in designing a program that promotes wellness without running afoul of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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On January 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2011.  The statistics show that the EEOC received a record 99,947 charges of discrimination and that, despite a record number of charges, the EEOC processed and resolved more charges than were filed, resolving 112,499 charges during FY 2011.  On the monetary damages front, the EEOC obtained $455.6 million in relief through EEOC mediation and litigation efforts, which represents $51 million increase from the previous fiscal year.


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The EEOC recently released an informal discussion letter suggesting that employers may be obligated to do more than just maintain a separate file for employee medical records, especially when those records are in an electronic format. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), as amended, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (“GINA”) require employers to maintain a confidential medical record, which is separate from the employee’s other personnel file(s), for information about the employee’s medical conditions, medical history or “genetic information.” The statutes do not, however, specify how such records are to be maintained or what level of security must be in place to protect the confidentiality of medical or genetic information.


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The 2010 fiscal year was a busy one for the EEOC as employees filed a record number of charges.  See A Year In Review: EEOC Charges & Trends.  This wave of charges is historic — not just because of the number of charges filed, but also because of the evolving trends in the types of claims made. Unfortunately for employers, these trends will likely continue in 2011 and beyond.

Historically, the most common types of claims filed were those of race and sex discrimination. Although these particular types of claims remain prevalent (the number of both race and sex discrimination claims increased in 2010), other types of claims are emerging at an alarming rate due to recent changes in the legal landscape.


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The Obama Administration has addressed labor and employment issues aggressively over the past two years.  The Department of Labor, under President Obama’s direction, has articulated its “Plan/Prevent/Protect” agenda and its focus on openness and transparency in labor practices.  As a result of the steps taken by the Obama Administration in 2010, the new Republican-dominated Congress may have to decide a number of regulatory and legislative measures that will directly affect labor and employment law in 2011. The following is a list of proposed regulations and legislation that employers and their attorneys should watch this year:

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Expanding on our December 21 post, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on January 11, 2011, announced that private sector workplace discrimination charge filings reached the “unprecedented level” of 99,922 during fiscal year 2010, which ended on September 30, 2010.  According to the data, all major categories of charge filings in the private sector, including charges against state and local governments, increased significantly.


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The fiscal year 2010 was a record-setting year for the number of private-sector discrimination charges filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Nearly 100,000 charges were filed — the most charges in the commission’s  45-year history.  This number represents an increase of just over seven percent from 2009, becoming the third consecutive year in which over 90,000 charges were filed.


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The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment decisions based on an individual’s genetic information.  So, for example, a company cannot refuse to hire a woman because her mother had breast cancer.  The law also prohibits requesting, requiring and/or purchasing genetic information, with limited exceptions, and prohibits disclosure of genetic information.  There are many open questions about the law, such as whether companies can have wellness programs anymore (restricted genetic information is routinely gathered as part of such programs) or whether it is a violation of the law for a supervisor to learn about genetic information by accessing an employee’s page on a social networking site, or by asking innocent questions about the employee’s health, such as “How are you?.”  The EEOC issued final regulations last week in an attempt to answer these and other questions under the law.  A short discussion follows.


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With the closing of the first month of the federal government’s 2011 fiscal year, employers may be curious to know what the EEOC’s litigation landscape looks like.  For instance, what type of employers are being sued, and for what?  Importantly, what can employers learn from the EEOC’s litigation efforts?  A review of recently filed lawsuits that the EEOC has announced in its October press releases found that few claims have been brought under recently passed laws and only a small portion of the defending employers are Fortune 500 companies.


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