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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES IMMIGRATION-RELATED DISCRIMINATION CLAIM AGAINST OHIO COMPANY (Jan. 2018)

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement with Omnicare Inc. (Omnicare), a wholly owned subsidiary of CVS Health Corporation and provider of long-term care pharmacy services in Ohio, resolving the Department’s investigation into whether the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision.

The Department’s investigation, which was initiated in response to a worker’s complaint, revealed that Omnicare engaged in citizenship status discrimination against a work authorized job applicant by refusing to refer him to the hiring manager for an interview because he was not a permanent resident or U.S. citizen, and removing him from the candidate pool based on his status as an asylee. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating against asylees because of their citizenship or immigration status, unless authorized by law to do so.

Under the settlement agreement, Omnicare will pay the maximum civil penalty for one instance of citizenship status discrimination, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, train its staff and its contractors, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for two years.

“Employers should ensure that all of the employees and contractors who screen their applicants for employment have the proper training to avoid improperly rejecting work authorized applicants based on a protected citizenship or immigration status,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division.

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to retaliation; different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

Click here to view the agreement.

SECURITY SERVICES COMPANY TO PAY $90,000 TO SETTLE EEOC RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION SUIT (Jan. 2018)

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Muslim Security Guard Was Denied Accommodation, Federal Agency Charges

SAN DIEGO — Universal Protection Services, LP, dba Allied Universal Security Services, a nationwide private security services company, will pay $90,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the security company refused to accommodate the request of a Muslim security guard who sought a modification to the company’s grooming standard. The company fired him two days after he made the request, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs so long as this does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed its suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Universal Protection Services, LP, dba Allied Universal Security Services, Case No. 3:17-cv-02436-BEN-NLS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the settlement, in addition to paying $90,000 to the employee, Allied Universal will retain an equal employment monitor; review and revise its religious accommodation policies and practices to comply with Title VII; provide annual EEO training for employees, supervisors, and managers who are involved in the religious accommodation process; post an employee notice; and undertake record keeping and reporting to EEOC.

“The EEOC commends Allied Universal Security Services for agreeing to comprehensive injunctive remedies including in-person training and monitoring to ensure that future religious discrimination will not occur,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes San Diego County. “We hope other companies take their lead in addressing religious accommodation issues.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “The EEOC is encouraged that Allied Universal recognizes that employees should be free to exercise their religious practices without fear of being discharged. The EEOC is committed to ensuring reasonable religious accommodations are provided to workers who require them.”

In August 2016, Allied Barton Security Services merged with Universal Protection Services and was collectively renamed Allied Universal. According to their website, www.aus.com, they are the largest provider of security services in North America and are recognized as the premier service provider in every market that they serve.

Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

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.

Fair Housing News (Jan. 2018)

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Dear Colleague,

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today it is awarding $37 million to fight housing discrimination under its Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP). These grants will support more than 150 national and local fair housing organizations working to confront violations of the Fair Housing Act (see grantee list below and read individual summaries of the work of these organizations).

These grants will allow the groups to provide Fair Housing enforcement through testing in the rental and sales market, to file Fair Housing complaints to HUD, and to conduct investigations. The education and outreach activities these organizations conduct also help to educate the public, housing providers and local governments about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.

“Every person deserves a fair chance to live in a neighborhood free from discrimination,” said Secretary Ben Carson. “The funds announced today will allow our fair housing partners on the ground to combat housing discrimination and ensure every person has equal access to housing.”

The categories of grants announced today are:

Education and Outreach Initiative grants (EOI) – $7,450,000 is awarded to organizations that educate the public and housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under federal law. The grants can also support state and local organizations that enforce fair housing laws that are equivalent to the federal Fair Housing Act.

Fair Housing Organizations Initiative (FHOI) – $500,000 is awarded to help build the capacity and effectiveness of non-profit fair housing organizations, particularly organizations that focus on the rights and needs of underserved groups, such as rural and immigrant populations.

Private Enforcement Initiative grants (PEI) – A total of $30.35 million is awarded to organizations that conduct intake, testing, investigation and litigation of fair housing complaints under the Fair Housing Act.
People who believe they have been denied a reasonable accommodation request may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing.

Discrimination Complaint Investigations: Focus on Controlling the Process, Not the Parties by Seena Foster

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

When a discrimination complaint is filed in a government program, or in the workplace, there are concerns regarding confidentiality, retaliation, and the threat of harm to public or professional reputations. The advent of electronic mail and a myriad of social media sites compound the complexity of these concerns. The bottom line is, you will not be able to control the actions of the parties to a discrimination complaint but, as an investigator, you can control your own actions as well as the investigative process. In this paper, we’ll discuss when and to whom you give notice of a discrimination complaint and how to maintain control over the investigative process.

For federally funded programs or activities, a discrimination complaint is filed by a Charging Party alleging denial of benefits, services, aid, or training by the Respondent on a prohibited basis (i.e. race, color, national origin, age, gender, disability, and so on). The Charging Party (CP) is a beneficiary, or potential beneficiary, of a federally funded program. The Respondents are the (1) agency or other entity operating the program, and (2) the employee acting on behalf of the agency or entity.

One example of discrimination in a government program is where a college professor gives one of his students a higher grade in exchange for sex. The student (CP) files a quid pro quo sexual harassment complaint against the college and its professor (Respondents). Another example is where the unemployment insurance counselor at a one stop career center refuses to assist persons with hearing impairments because it takes too much time. Here, the persons with hearing impairments (CPs) file a disability-based discrimination complaint against the unemployment insurance counselor and the one stop career center (Respondents).

An example of a workplace discrimination complaint is where a supervisor gives a black subordinate an adverse performance appraisal. The employee (Complainant) would file a color-based discrimination complaint against the supervisor (Respondent).

√ Determining jurisdiction

The first step for any investigator when s/he receives a discrimination complaint is determining jurisdiction. Is there authority to investigate a particular complaint? Here, the investigator is looking at things such as timeliness, apparent merit, protected class characteristics, and so on.

At this initial stage, the investigator is not determining whether the allegations are true; rather, s/he is merely figuring out whether the complaint meets certain basic jurisdictional requirements. Most often, this stage of the investigation involves communicating only with the CP or Complainant. Because the complaint has not officially been accepted for investigation, there is no need to notify the named Respondents of the complaint at this time.

Moreover, generally, if the investigator finds that s/he is without jurisdiction to investigate a complaint (i.e. it is untimely, lacks apparent merit, and the like), then written notice of that fact must be provided to the CP or Complainant, but it may not be necessary to provide the named Respondents with such notice. Check with the civil rights office of your federal funding agency for requirements applicable to you.

√ Accepting the complaint

If the investigator concludes that s/he has jurisdiction over the complaint and will accept it for investigation, then all parties to the complaint must receive notice of what is being investigated and must have an opportunity to respond to the notice.

For a complaint involving a federally funded program or activity, this notice generally is provided to the CP, and the named Respondents. Some federal funding agencies also may request notice that you’ve accepted a complaint. In a workplace complaint, the Complainant is provided notice as well as the Respondent, who may be a supervisor, manager, co-worker, contractor, or the like.

And, in complaints involving harassment or hostile environment, higher-ranking officials in the chain of command may need to be served with the notice.

√ Why do both parties need to know?

Providing notice to both parties that you have accepted a discrimination complaint for investigation is required because each party needs to be allowed to present evidence. Most discrimination complaints arise under the disparate treatment legal theory. Here, the CP or Complainant must demonstrate a prima facie case that discrimination occurred by a preponderance of the evidence; that is, it is more likely than not that prohibited discrimination occurred. Then the burden shifts to the Respondents to present legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for their conduct. Finally, the burden shifts back to the CP or Complainant to demonstrate that the Respondents proffered reasons are pretextual.

Therefore, both sides of the dispute will need to participate in the investigative process.

√ The conduct of the investigation

At this point, both sides of the dispute are aware of the investigation. You will not have control over whether a party or witness talks, e-mails, or tweets about the complaint. And, an investigator is cautioned against seeking to impose “gag” orders on anyone involved. Nor should an investigator threaten disciplinary action or other sanctions against any party or witness discussing the matter. These are not useful tactics and they may constitute a violation of certain federal laws. Indeed, certain private employers must be mindful of the recent decision of the National Labor Relations Board in Banner Health System and Navarro, 358 NLRB 93 (July 30, 2012) (an employer may not apply a rule prohibiting employees from discussing ongoing investigations of employee insubordination as this violates the National Labor Relations Act).

Some investigators may want to “expedite” matters by conducting an “informal” investigation without written notice to either party. This is problematic. In order for your investigation to be fair to both parties, the parties must know the issue that you are looking into for purposes of the complaint, and they must have an opportunity to be heard on the issue.

Some investigators in educational programs and activities may be hesitant to issue written notices out of concern that students may disseminate the notices via e-mail, Facebook, or the like, thus hindering the ability to conduct a fair investigation.

In such situations, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, the Respondent educational institution will (or should) have privacy and confidentiality policies related to these discrimination complaint investigations, and these policies should be widely-published. Although the policies bind the investigator and his or her organizations in respecting the privacy of parties and confidentiality of the investigative process, it may be useful to provide a copy of these policies to the CP or Complainant and the alleged wrongdoer(s). Here, you do not seek to control the actions of the parties (as this a losing battle); rather, you seek to increase their awareness of the importance of confidentiality and privacy in these investigations.

Although “gag” orders and disciplinary threats are not recommended ways to curb open discussions of an ongoing discrimination investigation, the following points can be made verbally and in writing to the parties:

● Acceptance of the complaint of discrimination does not mean that discrimination has occurred. It only means that there is authority to start the investigation of the complaint (i.e. the complaint was timely filed and so on). At this point, information will be gathered from both sides to determine whether each of the allegations in the complaint is proven or not proven. If the allegations are not proven, then a written finding that discrimination is not proven will be issued. If the allegations are proven by a preponderance of the evidence, then a written finding of discrimination will issue.

When issuing a written notice accepting a discrimination complaint for investigation, the investigator may decide to include the following language at the beginning of the written notice:

THIS NOTICE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A FINDING THAT ANY DISCRIMINATION HAS OCCURRED. THE SOLE PURPOSE OF THIS NOTICE IS TO INFORM THE PARTIES THAT I HAVE RECEIVED A DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT AND I HAVE AUTHORITY TO INVESTIGATE IT.

An investigator can reinforce his or her expectations that the parties should focus their energies on aiding with the investigation. The investigator, in turn, will focus on getting to the bottom of the allegations made to determine whether prohibited discrimination took place.

● An investigator should make clear that the conduct of the CP or Complainant and the Respondents during the investigation will be considered in determining whether the investigative process is being improperly utilized to harass a party, retaliate against a party, or the like. And, any written communications of the parties at the time of the incident at issue, including e-mail exchanges and postings on social media may be gathered and analyzed to determine the motives of the parties.

● The parties should be reminded that the purpose of the investigative process is not to threaten, intimidate, retaliate against, or humiliate either party. They should understand that it is the investigator’s job to develop the evidence and determine what happened.

● The one person whose conduct can be controlled in this entire process is that of the investigator. To maintain credibility, an investigator must be discrete, non-judgmental with both parties, and confidential in his or her words (written and verbal) and actions. An investigator should not discuss the investigation with co-workers, friends, or family. There should be no interference from outside sources seeking to dictate the course and/or outcome of the investigation. And, the investigator must have authority to report directly to the highest-ranking official of the agency, company, or organization. The parties have come to the investigator because they need to have a problem solved. The investigator should be part of the solution to the problem as opposed to being part of its continuation or escalation.

● It is important for an investigator to be organized and to resolve the complaint as soon as practicable. Whether the discrimination complaint stems from the operation of a government program or conduct in the workplace, efforts at counseling and/or mediation early in the process can be very helpful.

● Finally, complaints of harassment and hostile environment present some additional challenges for the investigator. Prior to the filing of any such complaint, leadership at an agency, company, educational institution, or other organization must make sure it has specific written steps in place for separating the individuals involved. Although an investigator must gather evidence and statements to determine whether the allegations of harassment and hostile environment are proven by a preponderance of the evidence, steps must be taken in the interim to provide relief and protection for the CP or Complainant from the alleged wrongdoer(s). And, for such complaints arising in the workplace, the EEOC encourages the investigator to keep the identity of the Complainant, and the information collected, as confidential as possible. There is a reality that the investigator needs to be able to collect evidence and question witnesses about the event at issue. The idea, however, is that the investigator should exercise diligence and caution, and should refrain from openly discussing the investigation in the workplace.

√ The final determination

Once the investigation is completed, a written determination of findings and conclusions must be sent to the parties. In complaints involving federally funded programs and activities, the federal funding agency also may require that you submit a copy to it. And, some federal funding agencies require that the written determination be sent to the state Governor’s office. The determination should provide the parties with a notice of any appeal rights available to them should they wish to challenge the determination. Similarly, final agency actions issued after investigation of workplace disputes must comply with EEOC requirements. For a description of those requirements, go to www.eeoc.gov.

Again, the investigator should not offer side comments or other statements to anyone. The determination will speak for itself and it should be only in the hands of the persons who are required to be notified. Otherwise, the investigative file containing notes, evidence, witness statements, notices, and determinations must be kept confidential, and secured in a location with limited (“need to know”) access.

√ About Seena Foster

Seena Foster, award-winning civil rights author and Principal of the discrimination consulting firm, Title VI Consulting, LLP in Alexandria, Virginia, provides expertise and guidance in the areas of civil rights compliance and discrimination complaint investigations related to the delivery of federally-assisted workforce development programs and activities. Her customers include state and local governments, K-12 public school systems, colleges and universities, private companies, private counsel, and non-profit organizations. You may contact her at seena@titleviconsulting.com, or visit her Web site at www.titleviconsulting.com for additional information regarding the services and resources she offers.

By way of background, in 2003, Ms. Foster served as a Senior Policy Analyst to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center (CRC). In that capacity, she led a team of equal opportunity specialists to conduct disability-based technical assistance reviews of One-Stop centers, and she assisted the CRC’s leadership in preparing for limited English proficiency-based compliance reviews. Ms. Foster also analyzed and weighed witness statements and documents to prepare numerous final determinations for signature by the CRC Director, which resolved discrimination complaints under a variety of federal civil rights laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act. In 2006, Ms. Foster received the Secretary of Labor’s Equal Employment Opportunity Award in recognition of “exceptional efforts to ensure that individuals with disabilities have full access to employment and related services and benefits at the Nation’s One-Stop Career Centers.” And, at the request of the CRC, Ms. Foster served as a popular workshop speaker at national equal opportunity forums co-sponsored by the CRC and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Her presentations covered topics such as the WIA Section 188 disability checklist, conducting discrimination complaint investigations and writing final determinations, and conducting investigations of allegations involving harassment and hostile environment.

With a passion for ensuring nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in the delivery of federally-assisted programs and activities, Ms. Foster remains highly active in the field through her series of on-demand webcasts for equal opportunity professionals as well as through on-site training, and assistance developing policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with applicable federal civil rights laws. Her training in the areas of compliance and complaint investigations has been described as “dynamic,” “hitting the nail on the head,” “well-organized,” and “informative.” And, her award-winning book on conducting discrimination complaint investigations is viewed as “eye-opening” and “the best on the market.” In 2007, Ms. Foster was certified as a mediator by the Virginia Supreme Court, and later obtained “Federal Workplace Mediation” certification through the Northern Virginia Mediation Service.

She is a member of the Discrimination Law and Human Rights Law Committees of the International Bar Association. Ms. Foster received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, and she has a Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University Law School.

Justice Department Settles with Restaurant that Refused Veteran with Service Dog (Jan. 2018)

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

The Justice Department reached an agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the When Pigs Fly BBQ Pit restaurant in Westfield, New York to resolve a complaint under title III of the ADA.

The Department’s investigation found that the restaurant discriminated against a veteran with PTSD when it refused to seat him and his family in the main dining room because he was accompanied by his service dog.

The settlement agreement requires the restaurant to adopt and implement a service dog policy; provide training on the service dog policy to employees and managers; and post the service dog policy at the restaurant and on the restaurant’s website and in its advertising. The When Pigs Fly BBQ Pit cooperated with the Department throughout the investigation.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement can call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at https://www.ada.gov.

NEW “DIGEST OF EEO LAW” ISSUED BY THE U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION (JAN. 2018)

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Latest Quarterly Edition Includes Selected Notable 2017 Decisions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the latest edition of its federal sector Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEO Digest), which is available on the EEOC’s website.

“This annual compilation edition of noteworthy decisions provides a convenient reference for federal sector stakeholders,” said Carlton M. Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO). “The latest issue highlights important 2017 case decisions.”

The EEO Digest, a quarterly publication prepared by OFO, features a wide variety of recent Commission decisions and federal court cases of interest. The Digest also includes hyperlinks so that stakeholders can easily access the full decisions that have been summarized. This edition of the Digest contains summaries of noteworthy decisions issued by EEOC, including cases involving: Agency Processing, Attorneys’ Fees, Class Complaints, Compensatory Damages, Dismissals, Findings on the Merits, Official Time, Remedies, Sanctions, Settlement Agreements, Stating a Claim, Summary Judgment, and Timeliness.

The summaries are neither intended to be exhaustive or definitive as to the selected subject matter, nor are they to be given the legal weight of case law in citations. The full text of Commission federal sector decisions summarized in the Digest are available on the EEOC’s website.

The public may also receive federal sector information updates and news items via GovDelivery and Twitter.

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.

Justice Department’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section February Webinar Schedule (2018)

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

IER Webinars
The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is offering a number of free, informative webinars for the public in February. These include webinars for workers, employers, and advocates. Please review IER’s webinar schedule to choose the right presentation for you.

IER enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This law prohibits citizenship, immigration status, and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation. For more information visit www.justice.gov/ier.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 11:00 am ET
IER Worker Advocate webinar
Register Here

Miércoles, 14 de febrero, 2018 a las 10:30 am ET
Seminario de la IER para defensores del trabajador
Register here

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 1:00 pm ET
IER Employer/HR Representative webinar
Register Here

For webinar materials in alternate format or other reasonable accommodation requests, contact Lorren Love at Lorren.Love@usdoj.gov or (202) 616-5594 at least one week before the webinar or as soon as possible, to ensure there is adequate time to arrange for the accommodation. In your request, please include a description of the type of accommodation needed and your contact information.

The Importance of “The Script” by Seena Foster

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

In this article, we look at the importance of having sound policies and procedures in place for ensuring the nondiscriminatory delivery of aid, training, benefits, and services to the public and the importance of sticking to these policies and procedures. For purposes here, we will call the policies and procedures, the “script.”

Successful discrimination complaints stem from one of three problems: (1) no script; (2) a bad script; or (3) deviation from a good script.

Let’s start with “no script.” No script means that you do not have any policies or procedures in place for handling a particular situation. In these circumstances, too much discretion is left with staff members and this, in turn, leads to inconsistent (and perhaps discriminatory) handling of issues. For example, Jane Doe comes to an American Job Network Center seeking assistance with her resume. She is deaf and requests the assistance of a sign-language interpreter. Without policies and procedures in place for handling this request, how does a staff member know what to do? Indeed, there may be disagreement among staff regarding a proper response to the request. In the meantime, time is ticking and Ms. Doe becomes increasingly frustrated with her lack of access to your services and files a complaint with you. The importance of having a script cannot be overstated.

Next, we’ll move to the bad script. Here, you have policies and procedures in place, but they are either incomplete, or result in a disparate impact on a class of beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries. One example of a bad script is in the area of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Mr. Sanchez, whose native language is Spanish, comes to your American Job Network Center seeking to apply for UI benefits. Your policies and procedures provide that you hand him a packet of forms. This is the same packet of forms you hand to anyone seeking UI benefits. The forms are written in English. Mr. Sanchez cannot understand the forms because he is limited English proficient (LEP). On its face, you have a neutral policy and procedure in place for your staff to follow–everyone seeking UI benefits gets the same set of forms. However, the policy has a disparate impact on LEP persons like Mr. Sanchez. Your script does not address this situation and Mr. Sanchez is effectively denied access to apply for the UI benefits.

Finally, let’s look at the good script that is not followed. In this scenario, you have policies and procedures in place that are sound, but staff is not following them. Deviation from established policies and procedures may be intentional or unintentional, but the result is the same—the process is left open to discriminatory treatment of beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries. Sometimes, policies and procedures are not followed because staff is simply unaware that they exist or they do not know how to properly implement them. This is generally the product of inadequate training. Other times, the staff member will be aware of the script, but chooses to deviate from it. This, too, presents problems.

For example, Mr. Doe serves as an employment referral counselor at an American Job Network Center. Widget Manufacturing Company states that it would like referral of five applicants to fill an accountant position. The company specifies that a bachelor’s degree is required along with one year of relevant experience. The script provides that Mr. Doe is to refer only those applicants who meet an employer’s stated requirements.

Mr. Doe has four applicants that he refers, and these applicants meet the company’s stated requirements. However, Mr. Doe also refers a fifth applicant, who has the bachelor’s degree with only six months of relevant experience. Mr. Doe explains that he referred the fifth applicant because he has worked with the applicant for several months and he knows what a “great person” the applicant is. You receive a discrimination complaint from a non-referred applicant who alleges he had the same qualifications as the fifth referred applicant (a bachelor’s degree and six months of experience).

In this example, Mr. Doe had “good intentions” when referring the fifth applicant who did not meet the company’s stated requirements, but he exposed the Center to a discrimination complaint because he deviated from the script.

Thus, as the Equal Opportunity professional for your agency, company, or organization, you should conduct periodic reviews of the policies and procedures for your federally-funded programs and activities, tweak them as needed to correct problems, and ensure staff is trained on the policies and procedures as well as the importance of adhering to them.

About Seena Foster.

Seena Foster, award-winning civil rights author and Principal of the discrimination consulting firm, Title VI Consulting, LLP in Alexandria, Virginia, provides expertise and guidance in the areas of civil rights compliance and discrimination complaint investigations related to the delivery of federally-assisted workforce development programs and activities. Her customers include state and local governments, colleges and universities, private companies, private counsel, and non-profit organizations. You may contact her at seena@titleviconsulting.com, or visit her Web site at www.titleviconsulting.com for additional information regarding the services and resources she offers.

By way of background, in 2003, Ms. Foster served as a Senior Policy Analyst to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center (CRC). In that capacity, she led a team of equal opportunity specialists to conduct disability-based technical assistance reviews of American Job Network centers (formerly One Stop Career Centers), and she assisted the CRC’s leadership in preparing for limited English proficiency-based compliance reviews. Ms. Foster also analyzed and weighed witness statements and documents to prepare numerous final determinations for signature by the CRC Director, which resolved discrimination complaints under a variety of federal civil rights laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act. In 2006, Ms. Foster received the Secretary of Labor’s Equal Employment Opportunity Award in recognition of “exceptional efforts to ensure that individuals with disabilities have full access to employment and related services and benefits at the Nation’s One-Stop Career Centers.” And, at the request of the CRC, Ms. Foster served as a popular workshop speaker at national equal opportunity forums co-sponsored by the CRC and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Her presentations covered topics such as the WIA Section 188 disability checklist, conducting discrimination complaint investigations and writing final determinations, and conducting investigations of allegations involving harassment and hostile environment.

With a passion for ensuring nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in the delivery of federally-assisted programs and activities, Ms. Foster remains highly active in the field through her series of on-demand webcasts for equal opportunity professionals as well as through her mediation services, training, and assistance developing policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with applicable federal civil rights laws. Her training in the areas of compliance and complaint investigations has been described as “dynamic,” “hitting the nail on the head,” “well-organized,” and “informative.” And, her award-winning book on conducting discrimination complaint investigations is viewed as “eye-opening” and “the best on the market.” Ms. Foster obtained “Federal Workplace Mediation” certification through the Northern Virginia Mediation Service.

She is a member of the Discrimination Law and Human Rights Law Committees of the International Bar Association. Ms. Foster received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, and she has a Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University Law School.

Fair Housing News: Conciliation Agreement Settling Disability-Based Discrimination (Jan. 19, 2018)

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Dear Colleague,

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a conciliation agreement with the Richmond Housing Authority (RHA) in Richmond, California, settling allegations that it discriminated against a resident with disabilities. Read the conciliation agreement.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of a dwelling because of a disability, including refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such an accommodation.

“Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities can mean the difference between having a place to call home and being homeless,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue working to ensure that no person loses his or her home because of their disability, and that housing providers understand and meet their responsibility to comply with the nation’s fair housing laws.”

The agreement is the result of a complaint that was filed by a resident with a disability alleging that the Richmond Housing Authority failed to renew his Housing Choice Voucher before it expired. According to the complaint, the resident submitted a request to have their voucher renewed before it expired, but the housing authority thought that he did not want the voucher renewed. The complaint alleged the Bay Area Legal Aid, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, sent several letters and emails to the housing authority requesting that it reinstate the voucher as a reasonable accommodation, since any miscommunication may have been due to the resident’s disability, but the housing authority refused. As a result, the resident was forced to place his belongings in storage and live in homeless shelters and with relatives.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Richmond Housing Authority will pay the resident $5,833 as reimbursement for the storage fees, and provide a new Housing Choice Voucher. The agreement also requires RHA staff to obtain fair housing training.

Any person who believes she or he has experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed online or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.

U.S. Department of Justice Immigrant and Employee Rights Section: Haiti Employment Authorization Cards (Jan. 19, 2018)

Friday, January 19th, 2018

USCIS has automatically extended the validity of employment authorization cards for individuals with Temporary Protected Status from Haiti.

If your employee has an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766, often referred to as an “EAD”) with an original expiration date of January 22, 2018 and containing the category code “A-12” or “C-19,” this EAD is automatically extended and the employee may continue to work without a new one (and without a receipt notice) through the end of the automatic extension period, July 21, 2018.

Additionally, if your employee has an EAD with an expiration date of July 22, 2017, and has not yet received the new EAD your employee applied for during the last re-registration period, your employee is also covered by this automatic extension. For the Form I-9, these employees may show their EAD with a July 22, 2017, expiration date, their EAD application receipt (Notice of Action, Form I-797C) that notes the application was received on or after May 24, 2017, and USCIS’s statement on this automatic extension available at https://www.uscis.gov/news/re-registration-period-now-open-haitians-temporary-protected-status.

Federal Register notice announcing the extension: https://go.usa.gov/xnvHB

EAD. The notation A-12 or C-19 appears on the face of the EAD (Form I-766) under Category. The exp. date of the last re-registration period is on card

Some EAD holders, including those with TPS who already applied to renew their EAD with the January 22, 2018 expiration date, may choose to show their existing EAD with a qualifying I-797C receipt notice. This combination of documents allows the employee to work through July 21, 2018. More information on when an employee can choose to show their EAD and I-797C is available in this USCIS Fact Sheet.

If you have an existing employee who presented an EAD that has now been automatically extended, the employee’s Form I-9 should be updated to reflect the extension:

1. For Section 1, the employee may:
a. Draw a line through the expiration date.

b. Write the new expiration date (July 21, 2018) above the previous date.

c. Initial and date the correction in the margin of Section 1.

2. For Section 2, employers should:
a. Draw a line through the expiration date written in Section 2.

b. Write the new expiration date (July 21, 2018) above the previous date.

C. Initial and date the correction in the margin of Section 2.

For more information:
Visit USCIS’s webpage on TPS.
Call the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the U.S. Department of Justice at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515 TTY).