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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Weekly Digest Bulletin: Disability Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (May 2018)

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

HERITAGE HOME GROUP TO PAY $50,000 TO SETTLE EEOC DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
Home Furnishings Company Denied Accommodation to and Fired Employee, Federal Agency Charged

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Heritage Home Group, LLC, a North Carolina corpor­ation that designs, manufactures, sources and retails home furnishings, will pay $50,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged that Heritage Home violated federal law when it failed to provide a machine operator at its Hickory Chair Company manufacturing plant in Hickory, N.C., an accommodation for his disability. The federal agency further charged that Heritage Home fired the employee because of his disability.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee (who wishes to remain anonymous) is a diabetic. He developed an infection and underwent surgery for amputation of one of his toes in March 2016. The employee was also diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and needed additional leave to recover fully. The employee informed Heritage Home of his anticipated return to work the first week of June 2016. Heritage Home informed the employee in a letter dated April 29, 2016 that it would be terminating his employment because the employee would not be able to return to work until June.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Statesville Division (EEOC v. Heritage Home Group, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:18-CV-00018) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the settlement, Heritage Home is required to pay the employee $50,000. In addition, the company has entered into a two-year consent decree that requires it to implement an ADA policy; conduct annual training for its human resources and management personnel on the ADA and its requirement that employees be provided with reasonable accommodations absent an undue hardship; and report to the EEOC on its accommodation practices.

“This settlement recognizes that employees with disabilities are important members of the workforce and should be provided equal opportunities to succeed in the workplace,” said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.

DOLLAR GENERAL SETTLES EEOC SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT FOR $70,000
Red Banks, Miss., Store Ignored Complaints About Manager’s Abuse of Female Employees, Federal Agency Charged

OXFORD, Miss. – Dolgencorp, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of retail chain Dollar General Corporation, will pay $70,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the store manager at Dollar General’s Red Banks, Miss., store subjected a female sales associate to unwanted sexually laced comments, text messages, and gestures. Although other female employees had previously complained about the same manager, the harassment continued. Dollar General continued to employ the manager for several months after the sales associate’s initial complaint, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in February 2017 (EEOC v. Dolgencorp, LLC, d/b/a Dollar General Stores, Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-00023-MPM-RP) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi at Oxford after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Besides the monetary relief, the consent decree approved by Judge Michael P. Mills:

· enjoins Dollar General’s stores in the district of the Red Banks store from unlawful sexual harassment in the future;

· requires mandatory sexual harassment training, with civility and bystander intervention training, to all employees, including the district manager, store manager, and assistant store manager;

· requires annual training for the store manager, district manager, regional directors and human resource managers within the district of the Red Banks store;

· requires Dollar General to notify the EEOC of future sexual harassment complaints; and

· requires annual reporting to the EEOC during the decree’s 18-month term, to include reporting of future sexual harassment complaints and training.

“While the recent #Me Too movement has shone a light on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, the EEOC has long remained on the front lines litigating these types of cases on behalf of victims, including vulnerable women in low-wage industries such as the retail, warehousing and food services industries in the South,” said Regional Attorney Faye Williams of EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which serves Tennessee, Arkansas and Northern Mississippi. “The EEOC will continue to bring these lawsuits. Employers who allow their supervisors or managers to subject their employees to sexually harassing behavior can expect that serious repercussions will follow.”

EEOC Trail Attorney Markeisha Savage added, “As we have said time and time again, having an anti-harassment policy that looks good on paper does not satisfy federal prohibitions against sexual harassment in the workplace. In fact, in this day and age, one would expect a corporation as large as Dollar General to already have such a firm policy in place and seriously enforced. In addition to having an anti-harassment policy, employers must also enforce it. An unenforced anti-harassment policy is tanta­mount to having no policy at all.”

Headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tenn., Dollar General represents one of the largest discount retailers in the United States. According to company information, it operates over 14,600 stores in 44 states and plans to open 900 new stores in fiscal year 2018. Dollar General employs approximately 129,000 people.

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.

EEOC Weekly Digest Bulletin (May 2018)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

EEOC SUES STAFFING SOLUTIONS FOR MULTIPLE DISCRIMINATORY HIRING PRACTICES

Owner Frequently Used Racial Slurs and Forced Out Manager Who Opposed Hiring Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges

BUFFALO, N.Y. –Staffing Solutions of WNY Inc., a Buffalo-based staffing company that places employees with clients throughout Western New York, violated federal laws prohibiting hiring discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the complaint, EEOC contends that Staffing Solutions either refused to hire highly qualified black applicants or placed them in the lowest paying, least desirable jobs. Further, EEOC alleges that Staffing Solutions’ owner, Kathleen Faulhaber, regularly referred to black applicants as “n—-rs,” instructed her staff to comply with clients’ race and sex preferences, placed employees in positions based on race and sex, and rejected pregnant applicants.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that applicants over the age of 50, applicants with disabilities, and those whom the company deemed disabled were routinely rejected by Staffing Solutions. EEOC contends that applicants were improperly asked for their dates of birth and about injuries and medical conditions, and that Staffing Solutions rejected applicants considered too old and those who revealed health issues, such as cancer, blindness, or back injuries.

Finally, EEOC charges that an office manager for Staffing Solutions complained about the illegal hiring practices and voiced objections to Faulhaber’s repeated use of racial slurs, but was warned that she would be fired if she failed to comply. The office manager felt she had no choice but to resign.

Staffing Solutions’ alleged hiring practices violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act which prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, or sex, as well as retaliation.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (EEOC v. Staffing Solutions of WNY, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00562) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay; compensatory, liquidated, and punitive damages; and injunctive relief. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Daniel Seltzer, Elizabeth Fox-Solomon, and Supervisory Trial Attorney Nora Curtin.

“Staffing Solutions’ conduct hearkens back to a time over half a century ago, before the passage of federal laws that make this type of discriminatory hiring illegal,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for EEOC’s New York District Office. “The EEOC is sending a clear message with this lawsuit: those days are over.”

Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York district director, added “Staffing companies are playing an increasingly large role in our economy. The EEOC will fight to ensure that they do not become an instrument of discrimination. The law is clear that honoring discriminatory client requests is illegal.”

“I’m proud to have been born and raised in Buffalo,” said Curtin. “Buffalonians, and all Americans, deserve to be hired based on their qualifications, without regard to age, disability, race or sex.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, and preserving access to the legal system by eliminating retaliation are national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

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

Anyone who may have been discriminated against by Staffing Solutions should contact the EEOC at staffingsolutionslawsuit@eeoc.gov.

COOPER MACHINE COMPANY SUED BY EEOC FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

Company Fired Employee Because of Her Disability Federal Agency Charged

ATLANTA – Cooper Machine Company, Inc., a Wadley, Ga., company that sells and manufactures equipment used in the sawmill industry, violated federal law by firing an employee because of her disability, anxiety disorder, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee, who worked for the company as a purchasing agent, was terminated by the company’s chief financial officer after informing the company that she was required to take medication because of her disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Cooper Machine Company, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00085-JRH-BKE) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“Federal law does not allow employers to terminate an employee merely because the employer believes there are ‘medical issues,’” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, “The company directly told the employee why it was terminating her and gave her a written document stating their reason. Such a termination is illegal and has been illegal since the ADA was passed.”

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.

Labor Department’s OFCCP Announces TRICARE Moratorium Extended to 2021 (May 2018)

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Today the U.S. Department of Labor issued a press release about the publication of a new OFCCP Directive extending the enforcement moratorium relating to the affirmative obligations of TRICARE providers for two years. This moratorium has been in effect for four years, and will now expire on May 7, 2021; it will also now apply to Veterans Affairs Health Benefits Program providers.

This extension will provide OFCCP time to receive feedback from stakeholders, relieve uncertainty, and give OFCCP an opportunity to evaluate and address legislation that may be enacted on this issue.

“By providing greater regulatory certainty to TRICARE providers and Veterans Affairs Health Benefits Program providers, the Administration can help ensure that America’s veterans and their families can access quality health care,” said OFCCP Director Ondray T. Harris.

Justice Department reaches Agreement with the City and County of Denver to Resolve Disability Discrimination (May 2018)

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

The Department of Justice today announced that it reached an agreement with the City and County of Denver (Denver) to resolve its lawsuit alleging that the Denver Sheriff Department discriminated against an employee on the basis of his disability, insulin dependent diabetes, in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that Denver discriminated against a long time Deputy Sheriff by failing to engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine an appropriate accommodation, failing to reasonably accommodate his disability, and then terminating him, in violation of the ADA.

Under the agreement, Denver will revise its reasonable accommodation policies and will conduct training of Sheriff Department supervisors & command staff as well as H.R. personnel, on the ADA. In addition, Denver will pay $100,000 in compensatory damages to the employee.

To find out more about this complaint, agreement, or the ADA, call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ADA.gov.

Harassment and Hostile Environment: Understanding the Basics by Seena Foster

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

If you are the Equal Opportunity (EO) professional charged with ensuring nondiscrimination in the delivery of federally-funded programs and activities, or you serve as the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Human Resources (EEO/AA/HR) professional charged with ensuring nondiscrimination in the workplace, you must have a working knowledge of “harassment” and “hostile environment.”

√ Two categories of harassment-related complaints.

Let’s start with an understanding that complaints of harassment-related discrimination fall into one of two categories: (1) quid pro quo harassment; or (2) hostile environment harassment.

Whether a complaint involves allegations of quid pro quo harassment or hostile environment, the conduct must be “unwelcome.” And, who defines whether conduct is “unwelcome”? Harassment is defined “through the eyes of the beholder”; namely, the person subjected to the harassing conduct defines whether the conduct is offensive and unwelcome.

√ Harassment is discrimination.

“Harassment” and “hostile environment” constitute forms of discrimination, regardless of whether the “harassment” or “hostile environment” occurs in federally-funded programs and activities, or in the workplace.

When we hear the word “harassment,” many of us first think of “sexual” harassment. To be sure, harassment on the basis of “sex” is a form of sex discrimination that is barred by federal law in the workplace, and in the delivery of federally-funded services, aid, training, and benefits.

That being said, it is equally important to keep in mind that harassment or hostile environment may occur on any prohibited basis of discrimination, including race, national origin, color, disability, age, and others. For example, you may see a complaint of race-based hostile environment, or a religion-based quid pro quo harassment complaint.

√ Quid pro quo harassment defined.

In the simplest of terms, quid pro quo harassment takes the form of bartering—“you give me this, and I’ll give you that.” A workplace example occurs where Jane, a supervisor, offers her assistant, Jason, a bonus in exchange for sexual favors. Jane has engaged in prohibited quid pro quo sexual harassment. Notably, Jane’s decision-making regarding whether to give Jason a bonus should be based on bona fide work-related criteria, not through bartering to get Jason to have sex with her.

Similarly, an example in the arena of federally-funded programs and activities is where Scott, the employment-referral counselor at a job bank, refuses to refer Khalid to available security guard positions unless Khalid renounces his Islamic faith. Here, Scott has engaged in quid pro quo religious-based harassment—Khalid must give up his Islamic faith in exchange for referral to the security guard positions. This discrimination is illegal because Scott is obligated to base his decision to refer Khalid to security guard positions on whether Khalid meets the essential eligibility requirements for the referral, not Khalid’s religious beliefs or practices.

√ “Hostile environment” defined.

Turning to “hostile environment,” this type of discrimination does not involve the bartering of “you give me this and I’ll give you that.” Rather, a hostile environment is created where one person, or a group of people, engages in offensive conduct that is “so severe and pervasive” that it adversely alters another person’s workplace environment, or the person’s enjoyment of, and participation in, federally-funded programs and activities.

In determining whether conduct is “severe and pervasive,” the following factors should be considered: (1) the frequency of the conduct; (2) the severity of the conduct; (3) whether the conduct is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and (4) whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee’s job performance, or with a person’s participation in, or enjoyment of, a federally-funded program or activity.

An example of “hostile environment” in the workplace is where Kristen works as a welder alongside eight co-workers, all of whom are men. Two of these co-workers are constantly telling sexist jokes, posting naked photos of women in the work area, and whistling at Kristen when she is working. Kristen is offended by the conduct, and she lets her co-workers know that it is unwelcome. When the conduct does not stop, Kristen files a complaint. Kristen’s complaint involves allegations of a “hostile sexual environment,” which adversely altered her working conditions.

In federally-funded programs and activities, an example of hostile environment occurs where a group of students at a public school posts derogatory remarks on Facebook about Josh, a student with a mobility disability. Moreover, they call him “crippled” and “stupid” in the hallways of the school, and deliberately place obstacles in front of his power chair. Josh files a disability-based hostile environment complaint. Here, the offending group of students created a “disability-based hostile environment” that, in turn, adversely altered Josh’s ability to enjoy, and participate in, the educational programs and activities offered at the school.

√ Retaliatory “hostile environment” is against the law.

Whether in the workplace, or in federally-funded programs and activities, creating a “hostile environment” against an individual in retaliation for filing an EEO complaint, or in retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint in a federally-funded program, also is prohibited. Every circuit court addressing this issue recognizes these complaints of “retaliatory hostile environment.”

If a person files a discrimination complaint, regardless of whether the complaint is ultimately successful or not, and then the person experiences “severe and pervasive” harassment from any member of your organization’s staff, your organization and the responsible staff members will be held liable. See Clegg v. Ark. Dep’t. of Corr., 496 F.3d 922 (8th Cir. 2007); Jordan v. City of Cleveland, 464 F.3d 584 (6th Cir. 2006); Jensen v. Potter, 435 F.3d 444 (3rd Cir. 2006), abrogated on other grounds by Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006); Hussain v. Nicholson, 435 F.3d 359 (D.C. Cir. 2006); Noviello v. City of Boston, 398 F.3d 76 (1st Cir. 2005); Von Gunten v. Maryland, 243 F.3d 858 (4th Cir. 2001), abrogated on other grounds by Burlington N., 548 U.S. 53; Ray v. Henderson, 217 F.3d 1234 (9th Cir. 2000); Richardson v. N.Y. State Dep’t. of Corr. Serv., 180 F.3d 426 (2nd Cir. 1999), abrogated on other grounds by Burlington N., 548 U.S. 53; Gunnell v. Utah Valley State Coll., 152 F.3d 1253 (10th Cir. 1998); Knox v. Indiana, 93 F.3d 1327 (7th Cir. 1996).

For example, in Gowski v. James Peake, MD (Sec’y., Dept. of Veterans Affairs, et al), 682 F.3d 1299 (11th Cir. 2012), the circuit court noted, after two hospital physician-employees filed EEO complaints of gender-based and religious-based discrimination, they were subjected to “severe and pervasive” retaliation at work, including the spread of demeaning rumors about the physicians by management that damaged their professional reputations, denial of hospital privileges to the physicians that could adversely affect their certifications, excluding the physicians from participating in work-related functions, and other similar acts. The court found, taken as a whole, this conduct created a retaliatory hostile environment, and damages were awarded against the hospital.

√ Obligations of EO and EEO professionals.

Thus, whether you work as an EO professional in federally-funded programs and activities, or as an EEO/AA/HR professional handling workplace discrimination, you must be familiar with the policies and procedures of your agency or organization pertaining to harassment and hostile environment. If no policies or procedures are in place, you must ensure that they are developed and published. Management and employees in your workplace, as well as beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries of your federally-funded programs and activities must have notice of these policies and procedures.

If you receive a discrimination complaint based on harassment or hostile environment, you are required to take action. These complaints are fact-intensive and there may be more than one appropriate response to a particular complaint of harassment. Although only hindsight offers perfect clarity of what worked and what did not, doing nothing is never acceptable.

About the author.

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 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 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.” 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.

GOODWILL AND AFFILIATE TO PAY $850,000 TO SETTLE EEOC SEXUAL HARASSMENT SUIT (May 2018)

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Night Shift Janitors Left Vulnerable to Supervisor’s Abuse, Supportive Managers Faced Retaliation, Federal Agency Charged

OAKLAND, Calif. – Goodwill Industries of the East Bay Area and its affiliate, Calidad Industries Inc., will pay $850,000 to eight former and current employees to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, six female janitors assigned to work the night shift at the Oakland Federal Building faced routine sexual harassment by their direct supervisor. The claimants included young women with developmental disabilities who were relatively new to the workforce, and were employed by Goodwill/Calidad’s janitorial operations under a federal government contract. The EEOC also charges that two managers were unfairly criticized and disciplined in retaliation for sup-porting the women’s sexual harassment claims, and one manager was compelled to resign.

“I was only 19 years old when I worked at Calidad — it was my first job, and I enjoyed being able to earn my own money,” said former employee Crystal Edwards. “But after my boss put his arms around me, I did not feel safe at work. My complaints were ignored. I am so glad the EEOC filed this lawsuit to stop the harassment and to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Former employee Phyllis Sloan said, “I reported the harassment as soon as it started, but nothing changed. So I went to the EEOC, and they were able to help me. I just wanted justice, so that other disabled workers know that they don’t have to put up with harassment from their bosses.”

Former manager Lisa Short added, “Within weeks of my start date, my employees trusted me enough to describe the harassment they faced on the nightshift. I knew my job could be on the line, but I needed to make sure my workers were safe.”

Concerned when higher management failed to take effective action, Short sought help from the Federal Protective Service and ultimately assisted the women in filing discrimination complaints with the EEOC.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from subjecting their employees to sexual harassment and specifically protects employees from retaliation for reporting or otherwise supporting claims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay, Inc. and Calidad Industries, Inc., Civil Action No. 4:16-CV-07093) after an investigation conducted by EEOC investigator Christopher Green and attempting through its conciliation process to reach a settlement out of court.

According to the consent decree signed by Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers, Goodwill/Calidad will pay $850,000 to the claimants. The employers will also revise their EEO policies and complaint and investigation procedures; institute supervisor accountability policies concerning discrimination issues; conduct comprehensive training of their workforce; and hire a consultant to monitor any responses to future complaints. The companies are also required to provide reports to the EEOC regarding adherence to the decree’s terms.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney Roberta Steele said, “The EEOC vigorously defends people like Lisa Short, the courageous supervisor who spoke out on behalf of her employees, as well as the individuals who are harassed. Whether you are a target or a bystander, if you see harassment in the workplace, please take action now and call on the EEOC as a resource to end workplace abuse. And if you’re an employer, know that EEOC offers technical assistance programs to prevent and remedy harassment.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director William R. Tamayo added, “The #MeToo movement illustrates that sexual harassment impacts people across industries, from white collar to blue collar work, across class, race, age, gender and abilities. In this case, there were many factors that contributed to the vulnerability of these janitors – all were African-American, many were young females new to the workplace, with disabilities, working the isolated night shift. Employers must take proactive measures to stop predators who would abuse their power over vulnerable workers.”

Protecting vulnerable workers from harassment, disparate pay, and other discriminatory policies is one of the priorities identified in EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). The EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace provides practical resources for employers who want to address workplace harassment.

According to its website, Calidad Industries is a subsidiary of Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay and provides vocational training and employment to those with significant disabilities.

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.

The Justice Department and USCIS Formalize Partnership to Protect U.S. Workers From Discrimination and Combat Fraud (May 2018)

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

The Department of Justice and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that expands their collaboration to better detect and eliminate fraud, abuse, and discrimination by employers bringing foreign visa workers to the United States. This new effort improves the way the agencies share information, collaborate on cases, and train each other’s investigators.

The MOU will increase the ability of the agencies to share information and help identify, investigate, and prosecute employers who may be discriminating against U.S. workers and/or violating immigration laws. In 2010, USCIS and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division entered into an ongoing partnership to share information about E-Verify misuse and combat employment discrimination, and today’s MOU expands upon the two agencies’ existing partnership.

In 2017, the Civil Rights Division launched the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of foreign visa workers. Under this Initiative, the Civil Rights Division has opened dozens of investigations, filed one lawsuit, and reached settlement agreements with two employers. Since the Initiative’s inception, employers have agreed to pay or have distributed over $200,000 in back pay to affected U.S. workers. The Division has also increased its collaboration with other federal agencies to combat discrimination and abuse by employers using foreign visa workers.

USCIS administers the nation’s immigration system and adjudicates requests for immigration benefits, including employment-based petitions. To advance the goals of the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order and promote the economic interests of U.S. workers, USCIS is taking concrete steps to ensure the integrity of the employment-based immigration programs and improve its ability to detect and prevent fraud. Among other things, USCIS has created dedicated tip lines for reporting H-1B and H-2B visa fraud and abuse and expanded its site visit programs. USCIS has also worked with other government agencies that have a role in immigration, such as DOJ, to ensure that they efficiently share and appropriately act upon information regarding potential fraud and abuse of immigration programs. For more information, visit the USCIS Buy American and Hire American page.

“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, today’s partnership adds to the Civil Rights Division’s tools to stop employers from discriminating against U.S. workers by favoring foreign visa workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “The Division looks forward to expanding its partnerships with USCIS to hold accountable employers that discriminate against U.S. workers based on their citizenship status.”

“Protecting and maintaining the integrity of our immigration system remains a key priority for me, and underpins the exceptional work of the professionals at USCIS,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “This agreement enhances the level of coordination among investigators who often work on the same issues at different agencies. Breaking down silos and working with our federal partners to combat employment discrimination will help ensure that U.S. workers have the advocate they need at the highest level.”

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. 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. An employer that prefers to hire temporary foreign visa workers over available, qualified U.S. workers may be discriminating in violation of this law.

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.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis)), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook(/uscis).

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against University of California, San Diego (May 2018)

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement agreement with the University of California, San Diego. The settlement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether the University’s Resource Management and Planning Vice Chancellor Area (RMP) discriminated against workers in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when verifying their continued authorization to work.

The Department’s investigation concluded that the RMP unnecessarily required certain work-authorized immigrants to re-establish their work authorization when their documents expired, based on the citizenship status of those individuals when they were hired. The antidiscrimination provision of the INA prohibits such requests for documents when based on an employee’s citizenship status or national origin.

Under the settlement, the University will pay a penalty to the United States, train its RMP human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.

“Employers must comply with anti-discrimination laws, not only when employees are first hired, but throughout their employment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “We will work with the University to ensure that its employment eligibility reverification procedures avoid unnecessary burdens on permanently work-authorized immigrants based on citizenship status.”

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, 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 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 at www.justice.gov/crt/webinars; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.

Applicants or workers who believe they were subjected to 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, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

NEW ‘DIGEST OF EEO LAW’ ISSUED BY EEOC (April 2018)

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

CONTACT:
Kimberly Smith-Brown
Christine Nazer
James Ryan
Joseph Olivares
202-663-4191
newsroom@eeoc.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 30, 2018

NEW ‘DIGEST OF EEO LAW’ ISSUED BY EEOC
Includes Key Federal Sector Decisions, Special Article on Harassment in the Workplace

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.

“The special article on harassment in this issue recommends ways to prevent workplace harassment and is an excellent resource for stakeholders,” said Carlton M. Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO).

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 which have been summarized. This edition of the Digest contains summaries of noteworthy decisions issued by EEOC, including cases involving: Attorneys’ Fees, Class Complaints, Compensatory Damages, Complaint Processing, Dismissals, Findings on the Merits, Mixed Motive, 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. In addition to the quarterly Digest, Commission federal sector decisions are available on EEOC’s website.

The public may also receive federal sector information updates and news items via GovDelivery and Twitter. EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination in the public and private sectors. Further information about EEOC is available online at www.eeoc.gov.

U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Employment Rights Webinars for May & June, 2018

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is offering a number of free, informative webinars for the public in May and June. 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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 11:30 am ET
IER Training for Employers and HR Professionals

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 11:30 am ET
IER Training for Worker Advocates

Lunes, 4 de junio del 2018 a las 10:00 am ET
Seminario de la IER para Defensores del Trabajador en Español

Friday, June 15, 2018 at 11:00 am ET
IER Training for Worker Advocates

Monday, June 25, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET
IER Training for Employers and HR Professionals

Joint IER/USCIS Webinars
IER has joined with USCIS to present webinars on employee rights during the E-Verify and Form I-9 employment eligibility verification processes. These webinars on employee rights are useful for workers, worker advocates, and job seekers alike. To sign up for a joint IER/USCIS webinar on employee rights, mark your calendar for the time listed below, and click the link to register

Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 11:30 am ET
Joint IER/USCIS Employee Rights Webinar

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET
Joint IER/USCIS Employee Rights Webinar

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 1:00 pm ET
Joint IER/USCIS Employee Rights Webinar

Thursday June 21, 2018 at 3:00 pm ET
Joint IER/USCIS Employee Rights Webinar

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.