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Archive for March, 2017

U.S. Department of Justice Highlights (Mar. 24, 2017)

Friday, March 24th, 2017

CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS
Friday, March 24, 2017

For more information on any of the following news updates, go to https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr.

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with Pizzerias, LLC (Pizzerias), a pizza restaurant franchisee with 31 locations in Miami, Florida. The agreement resolves the department’s investigation into whether Pizzerias violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with the Pea Ridge School District (PRSD) of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Justice Department reached an agreement with the Suffolk City School District in Virginia that paves the way for the district to complete desegregation and achieve full unitary status.

A Kansas man pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during a federal hate crime investigation arising from a June 19, 2015, bias-motivated assault of three black Somali men.

A Pennsylvania man has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a charge of violating the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Mississippi approved a joint settlement agreement with the Justice Department, private plaintiffs, and the Cleveland School District, that will lead to the effective desegregation of Cleveland’s middle and high schools by the start of the next school year.

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with Paragon Building Maintenance, Inc. (Paragon) and Pegasus Building Services Company, Inc. (Pegasus), related janitorial companies headquartered in Long Beach, California. The settlement resolves the department’s investigation into whether the companies violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

A Florida man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with others to threaten, intimidate, and interfere with an interracial couple’s enjoyment of their housing rights.

A Minnesota man was sentenced in the District of Minnesota to 12 months in prison and three years of supervised release for mailing a letter in which he threatened to blow up an Islamic Center.

EEOC Announces 2017 Federal Training Courses Through October 2017 (Mar. 2017)

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

New Courses Begin in April in Washington, Philadelphia and Houston

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Office of Federal Operations (OFO), recently announced the issuance of the 2017 Federal Training Course Calendar, which includes two new courses: Special Emphasis Program Management and Anti-Harassment Program Management.

The full calendar is available online here. The following courses in April are open for registration now and filling up fast:

EEO Counselor Refresher

April 12 in Washington, DC
April 18 in Philadelphia, PA

EEO Investigator Refresher

April 14 in Washington, DC
April 19 in Philadelphia, PA

New EEO Counselor

April 17-21 in Washington, DC

New EEO Investigator

April 24-28 in Washington, DC

Basic MD-715

April 24 in Washington, DC

Barrier Analysis

April 25-26 in Washington, DC

Navigating EEO for Managers

April 25-26 in Houston, TX

Register online and obtain course information, as well as viewing other course listing being held through October 2017 in Washington (DC), Philadelphia (PA), Denver (CO), Phoenix (AZ), Nashville (TN), Birmingham (AL),Houston (TX), Atlanta (GA) and San Francisco (CA).

The EEOC offers expert training that is ideal for equal employment opportunity (EEO) counselors and investigators, agency representatives and attorneys, as well as human capital and diversity and inclusion professionals. The EEOC also offers critical training for federal employees and managers. These interactive courses are engaging and ideal for persons interested in the work of making the federal government a model EEO employer.

Some course offerings are designed to meet the training requirements for EEO counselors and investigators based on Management Directive (MD)-110 and related guidances. Other courses are tailored to meet the needs of EEO practitioners responsible for conducting MD-715 barrier analyses, drafting final agency decisions, and letters of acceptance and dismissal.

“Proactive prevention is the best medicine to stop discrimination before it starts,” said Carlton M. Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO).

“Our training courses are excellent resources for any employee or manager interested in learning more about federal EEO laws to effectuate a model workplace,” said Mr. Hadden. “Our skilled trainers offer participants the opportunity to develop essential skills and techniques in an interactive small group setting.”

Training courses through October 2017 include:

Barrier Analysis
MD-715
Counselor Refresher
Disability Program Manager Basics
Drafting Final Agency Actions
Drafting Letter of Acceptance & Dismissal
EEO Laws Refresher
Investigator Refresher
New Counselor and New Investigator
EEO for Managers and Supervisors
Special Emphasis Program Management (new)
Anti-Harassment Program Management (new)

Course offerings which meet the requisite 32-hour training or eight-hour refresher training requirements mandated by MD-110 include: the New Counselor course, the New Investigator course, the Counselor Refresher course, and the Investigator Refresher course.

EEO staff of federal agencies can follow the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations on the Twitter handle @EEOC_OFO for information updates and news — including reminders about upcoming training courses and outreach. Additional informational can also be found on the website of EEOC’s Training Institute .

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

Office of Disability Employment Policy: Business $ense (Mar. 15, 2017)

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Small Business Spotlight: Volk Packaging Corporation

Volk Packaging Corporation, a third generation family-owned corrugated box plant based in Biddeford, Maine, never set out to be an employer of people with disabilities. However, Volk’s inclusive workplace culture has led to the company’s employment of numerous people with diverse abilities, including workers who are deaf, blind and on the autism spectrum.

Part of Volk’s approach to inclusion is providing all employees the tools they need to do their job effectively. For employees with disabilities, this can mean reasonable accommodations or adjustments to the work environment. Volk has found that most of these accommodations are low cost or no cost, and very easy to implement. For example, Sue, a longtime employee with a hearing impairment, requires no accommodation aside from needing to be alerted by a colleague if a fire alarm is triggered. Another employee, Peter, who works from home, requires only an enlarged computer monitor to accommodate his visual impairment. Both Sue and Peter are productive, valued employees who add diverse perspectives to the corporation.

Volk’s commitment to an inclusive workplace culture has its roots in a personal connection. Company owner Derek Volk’s 25-year-old son Dylan has autism. And while today Dylan is successfully working, he experienced many ups and downs throughout his career journey. “Every job that did not work out for Dylan could have easily been avoided,” says Derek. “It’s all about knowing what an individual needs to be successful, and for Dylan, that means clear instructions and frequent communication.”

Today, focusing on individual needs is something that Mr. Volk considers at work every day — for employees with and without disabilities alike. And it is a message he communicates to others through his active participation in the Maine Business Leadership Network. “As the father of a son with autism, and as someone who knows the giant surplus of talented people on the autism spectrum who are transitioning to the world of work, I want all employers to prepare themselves for that opportunity,” he says.

For more information on workplace accommodations and other leading practices, access Small Business and Disability Employment: Steps to Success, which provides practical guidance for small businesses on how to recruit and retain qualified people with disabilities.

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in a periodic series of “Business Sense” issues showcasing the experiences of actual small businesses that are working to foster a disability-inclusive workplace culture. If you know of additional small businesses we should feature here, please tell us about them by contacting the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN).

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division News (Mar. 2017)

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

For more information on these news events, go to https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr.

CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington alleging that the owners and manager of three Edmonds, Washington apartment buildings refused to rent their apartments to families with children, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

A Minnesota man was sentenced to six months in prison and one year of supervised release for making telephonic threats to two medical clinics that provide reproductive health services.

The Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree to resolve a complaint that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) discriminated against a job applicant on the basis of his disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

A Florida man sentenced for sex trafficking by force, fraud, and interstate prostitution.

Two Kansas men were sentenced for their roles in Federal hate crimes against black Somali men.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Education withdrew guidance for educational institutions, issued in 2015 and 2016, that took the position that the prohibitions in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and implementing regulations against discrimination on the basis of sex require access to sex-segregated facilities on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex.

A former West Virginia Correctional Officer was charged in a three-count indictment with violating the rights of two pretrial detainees at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail (TVRJ) and obstructing justice.

The Justice Department announced a settlement with the city of Sterling Heights, Michigan to resolve allegations that the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) in denying approval to allow the American Islamic Community Center, Inc. (AICC) to build a mosque in the city.

An Idaho man was arrested on a two-count federal indictment in the District of Idaho charging him with destruction of religious property and using a fire to damage or destroy religious property.

A Tennessee man was convicted of soliciting another person to violate federal civil rights laws by burning down a mosque in Islamberg, a hamlet outside Hancock, New York.

A former Oklahoma jail superintendent and assistant jail superintendent of the Muskogee County Jail (MCJ) were resentenced in federal court on multiple counts of civil rights offenses related to allegations of excessive force on inmates at MCJ on or between August 2009 and May 2011.

HUD AND NORTHERN ILLINOIS LENDER REACH FAIR LENDING SETTLEMENT (Mar. 2017)

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Agreement resolves claims of discriminatory lending practices

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced an agreement with Alpine Bank & Trust resolving allegations the Northern Illinois-based lender discriminated against African American and Hispanic mortgage applicants. HOPE Fair Housing Center of Wheaton, Illinois filed a complaint with HUD claiming the lender’s business service areas excluded majority African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. Read the agreement.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person because of race and national origin.

HOPE Fair Housing Center alleged the bank’s lack of a presence in majority African-American and Hispanic communities in the Rockford area made financial products less available to potential applicants based on their race and national origin. The complaint also alleged that of Alpine’s 14 branch locations, only one is in a Census tract that is more than 10 percent African American. In addition, HOPE’s complaint alleged that the lender provided white applicants with better information, and offered them more favorable terms and conditions than African American and Hispanic applicants.

As part of the HUD-mediated settlement, Alpine Bank will:

Establish a $1 million loan program to increase mortgage lending to residents in majority African-American and Hispanic areas in the Rockford metropolitan area;
Pay $75,000 to HOPE;
Offer targeted community outreach to minority areas, including seminars relating to financial literacy, homeownership, and credit counseling, and conduct a direct mailing campaign in majority African-American areas;
Provide fair lending training for its mortgage lending staff; and
Research the possibility of opening a new automated services branch in a majority-minority neighborhood in the Rockford metropolitan area.

People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777. Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at www.hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.

EEOC Announces 2017 ‘Brown Bag’ Lunch & Learn Sessions for Federal Sector Stakeholders (Mar. 2017)

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

May 25, 2017 – Section 501 Final Rule on Affirmative Action for Individuals with Disabilities in Federal Employment
Brown Bag lunch events are an opportunity for you to hear directly from EEOC subject matter experts and to ask your questions on the matter at hand. So bring your lunch, and join us at EEOC!

When: Each session is from 12:00 – 1:30 pm (arrive 10-15 minutes early to clear security in time)
Where: EEOC HQ – 131 M St NE; NOMA Stop on the Red Line

You must RSVP in advance to attend. RSVP in response to each individual Brown Bag announcement. Seating is limited.

RSVP by email to FederalTrainingAndOutreach@eeoc.gov or call 202-663-4599.

Justice Department: Immigration and Employee Rights Section (Feb. 2017)

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

IER Webinar Series on Recent Changes to IER’s Regulations

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) has launched a new webinar series to educate the public about recent changes to IER’s regulations. Formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), IER enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which prohibits certain types of employment discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status, and national origin. IER’s mission and functions remain the same as OSC’s.

IER’s revised regulations went into effect on January 18, 2017. The revisions conform the regulations to the text of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, simplify and add definitions of statutory terms, update and clarify the procedures for filing and processing charges of discrimination, ensure effective investigations of unfair immigration-related employment practices, reflect developments in nondiscrimination case law, reflect changes in existing practices such as electronic filing of charges, and reflect the office’s name change from OSC to IER.

IER is offering information about its revised regulations in its monthly employer and worker webinars, and in stand-alone presentations as well. Topics include the changes to the regulations, how these changes affect the public, and resources for those who would like more information about IER and its regulations. Register for IER webinars here.

In the coming months, IER also expects to post on-demand webinars on the changes to its regulations at www.justice.gov/ier, in English and Spanish.

EEOC Webinar Series (Feb. 2017)

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

WASHINGTON — EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, Training and Outreach Division, is launching a free “Lunch and Learn” Webinar Series to highlight issues of importance to federal agencies and EEOC stakeholder groups.

This is your opportunity to learn from experts, both inside and outside of EEOC, about significant issues and topics. In order to receive connection information for a webinar, simply RSVP to each specific webinar announcement via email FederalTrainingandOutreach@eeoc.gov

Upcoming scheduled webinars for 2017 (Eastern Time):

March 13, 2017 (12:00 – 1:30 pm) – Preventing Workplace Harassment
March 29, 2017 (12:00 – 1:30 pm) – 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 Pilot Project Guidance
April 26, 2017 (12:00 – 1:30 pm) – Section 501 Final Rule on Affirmative Action for Individuals with Disabilities in Federal Employment
July 12, 2017 (12:00 – 1:30 pm) – EEOC Enforcement Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

For additional information about the Webinar Series, please email FederalTrainingandOutreach@eeoc.gov or call EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations at 202-663-4599.

Further information about EEOC Federal Sector Training and Outreach is available