Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Governmental entities play a vital role in upholding federal labor and employment regulations and would face significant disruption in the event of a government shutdown. In September, we provided a brief review on how a shutdown would affect the government agencies that enforce federal labor and employment laws — the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

It is indisputable that artificial intelligence (AI) has generated enormous buzz over the past several years. AI has had a substantial impact on various industries and facets of society – with no signs of slowing – and its potential to disrupt longstanding business mechanisms cannot be overstated.

Among the areas most impacted by AI is the workplace.  Indeed, AI and generative artificial intelligence (GAI) are readily used – and, as will be discussed, sometimes misused – every day by millions of U.S. employees. Companies utilize these sophisticated tools for a myriad of reasons, including to boost development, increase productivity, and stay ahead of the proverbial curve.

In this multipart series, we will address a host of issues associated with the interplay between AI and GAI, on the one hand, and the U.S. workplace, on the other hand. And in this particular article, we will break down what we specifically mean when referring to AI and GAI and, also, how federal, state, and local legislatures are responding to the rise in workplace-related AI issues. Future articles will address how AI and GAI are impacting the workplace as well as challenges employers face with the adoption of AI and GAI tools in the workplace.Continue Reading How artificial intelligence is impacting the U.S. workplace (Part I)

Government agencies are integral to the enforcement of federal labor and employment laws and will be dramatically impacted by a government shutdown. Below is a synopsis of the impact on the main government agencies responsible for enforcing federal labor and employment laws—the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); the Department of Labor (DOL); and the

In conjunction with New York City’s recent employer vaccine mandate, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) issued enforcement guidance on the equitable implementation of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for employees, independent contractors, and interns.

Non-discriminatory application of vaccine policies

In its guidance, the NYCCHR underscored that employers must ensure their policies and practices treat all employees evenly, regardless of protected class status, when implementing vaccine requirements. Specifically, the guidance advises that employers should not (i) scrutinize proof of vaccination more closely when it is provided by employees of a particular race, national origin, or religion based on the perception that people in those groups are less likely to be vaccinated; (ii) require proof of vaccination only for older employees or employees with disabilities based on the belief that COVID-19 is more dangerous for them; or (iii) refuse to accept certain types of valid proof of vaccination, such as official immunization records from other countries or photographs of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination cards.

The guidance reiterates that employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees because they requested an accommodation, opposed discrimination, or filed or assisted with a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).Continue Reading NYC guidance addresses intersection of vaccine policies and workplace laws

As we discussed here, employers who have implemented mandatory vaccine policies – either by choice or by government mandate – have seen a significant uptick in religious accommodation requests. As a result, on October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance regarding employers’ obligations under federal anti-discrimination law when an employee

As we previously posted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) CDC recently issued guidance on reopening the workplace. In its latest update on June 11, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (the Guidance) to provide further guidance on returning employees to the workplace. Notably, the Guidance covers (1) the return of high-risk workers to the workplace, (2) how to properly handle COVID-19-related accommodations requests, and (3) how to appropriately respond to pandemic-related harassment. As we discussed in our last post, employers should be wary of toeing the line on the issues highlighted below, as they may become prevalent in the wave of litigation expected to arise in the wake of the pandemic.

Employers may not involuntarily exclude older or pregnant workers from the workplace

In its updated Guidance, the EEOC cautions that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – which prohibits discrimination in the workplace against individuals aged 40 and older – does not permit an employer to involuntarily exclude an employee from the workplace based solely on their age, “even if the employer acted for benevolent reasons such as protecting the employee due to a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.” The Guidance specifically pertains to employees aged 65 years and older, who are considered by the CDC to be at a higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. Moreover, the EEOC has stated that employers may still provide flexible working arrangements for workers aged 65 and older, and that doing so will not be viewed as treating younger workers (ages 40 to 64) less favorably.

Additionally, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), employers are prohibited from involuntarily excluding from the workplace, furloughing, or placing on leave, pregnant employees, even if the intent behind the decision is to protect the employee’s health and safety.Continue Reading EEOC provides updated guidance related to excluding high-risk workers, required accommodations, and pandemic-based harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated and expanded a Technical Assistance Publication on May 5, 2020, and then again on May 7, 2020, focusing on employer obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EEOC’s guidance comes as many states are reopening their economies and allowing businesses to admit employees back into the workplace.

The Question-and-Answer format of the updated publication reminds employers of their obligation to continue to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace, even in the middle of a pandemic. Of particular interest to employers are situations where the worker is already known to have a medical condition that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has flagged as putting the individual at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The full CDC list is available here, and includes people with moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity, diabetes, and many other impairments. The EEOC’s position regarding the employer’s rights and obligations when returning such individuals to the workplace has two key parts.Continue Reading Returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic: Employer’s rights and obligations to high-risk workers

On April 28, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) released its model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, providing guidance for employers with employees operating in Illinois.

Under the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA), effective January 1, 2020, employees must receive training on sexual harassment prevention by December 31, 2020, and on an annual basis thereafter. At minimum, the training must:

  • Explain what sexual harassment is (consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act definition).
  • Provide examples of prohibited conduct.
  • Summarize federal and state sexual harassment laws, including remedies available to victims.
  • Set out the employer’s responsibility to prevent, investigate, and correct sexual harassment.

Continue Reading Illinois releases model sexual harassment training

In an effort to delay litigation deadlines, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stopped issuing Right-to-Sue Letters amid the COVID-19 pandemic, unless specifically requested by an employee.  Although the EEOC has not publicly announced its new policy, it has confirmed this practice to several news outlets.

The EEOC is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws.  Workers who claim they have been subject to unlawful discrimination and wish to bring a claim under these federal laws must first file a charge with the Agency.  The EEOC can resolve the charge in a number of ways.  If the agency declines to bring a lawsuit itself, it issues the individual a “Notice of Right to Sue” (commonly called a “Right-to-Sue Letter”) allowing the employee to file the claim in court.  The EEOC’s issuance of a Right-to-Sue Letter starts a 90-day filing deadline for the employee to bring the lawsuit.  The EEOC’s new practice will keep this 90-day clock from starting.Continue Reading EEOC stops issuing right-to-sue letters in response to COVID-19, delaying litigation deadlines

On January 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final rule updating and revising its interpretation of joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new rule simplifies the FLSA joint employer analysis with a four-factor test for determining whether workers are jointly employed by associated businesses or persons. The DOL’s changes are the first meaningful revisions since the department’s interpretive regulation was issued 60 years ago. According to the department, the purpose of the rule is “to promote certainty for employer and employees, reduce litigation, promote greater uniformity among court decisions and encourage innovation in the economy.” Although application of this final rule is limited to FLSA wage and hour issues, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are expected to similarly revisit the joint employer analysis in their respective contexts.

History

The new DOL rule replaces an interpretation that had broadened liability for joint employment under the FLSA. In 2016, former head of the Wage and Hour Division David Weil issued guidance that increased scrutiny of situations in which multiple companies might employ workers jointly. In 2017, the DOL rescinded Weil’s interpretation and in April 2019, provided a “Notice of Proposed Rule Making” relating to the joint employer test.   The final rule adopted on January 12, 2020, makes certain changes to and clarifications of the April 2019 proposed version. The rule takes effect on March 16, 2020.Continue Reading DOL makes historic, pro-business changes to FLSA joint employer test