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Archive for June, 2018

ADA Movie Captioning and Audio Description Rule Equipment Deadline takes Effect this Month (June 2018)

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

The ADA Title III Movie Captioning and Audio Description Rule contains requirements to have and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie made available with these features. These requirements went into effect this month for covered movie theaters that have been showing digital movies since the rule was published on December 2, 2016. This equipment deadline is the first of three equipment compliance deadlines in the final rule. (Read the compliance deadlines.)

The Department has a Q&A to assist movie theaters—most of which are considered small businesses according to the Small Business Administration—in complying with the requirements of the rule. For more information about this rule or the ADA, please visit the Department’s ADA website (www.ada.gov) or call our ADA Information Line: Voice: 1-800-514-0301; TTY: 1-800-514-3083.

On-Demand Civil Rights Webcasts Available: Delivering Public-Facing Programs and Activities in Compliance with Federal Law

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Delivered by Civil Rights Expert and Author Seena Foster

In 2017, State and local government officials are applauding the webcasts, stating they are “outstanding,” “very informative,” and “extremely useful.” Each webcast is only $29.00.

Available Selection

Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act: An Overview

Compliance with the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: A Comprehensive Overview

Discrimination Complaint Investigations under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:  Proper Process and Technique

State and local government officials responsible for the delivery of, or monitoring the delivery of, services, aid, training, or benefits to the public must comply with Federal civil rights laws. These laws also apply to service providers, on-the-job trainers, contractors, and partners that assist in delivering public-facing programs and activities. Our webcasts provide practical training for new and experienced professionals working in the area of equal opportunity.

Because the webcasts are on-demand and certificate-based, they provide a convenient and inexpensive way to acquire and document training of staff, contractors, service providers, and partners.

How to register:
To register, simply click on the “Webcast Registration” icon on the left side of this blog. Or, go to https://engage.vevent.com/rt/titleviconsulting.

Cost-effective.  Only $29.00 each. No travel costs.  No lost time from work. These webcasts are absolutely the best value for your dollar!

Content-rich.  Each webcast is packed with useful information, guidance, and helpful tips. Each participant receives a copy of the detailed PowerPoint presentation for the webcast, which may be used as a checklist going forward.

Certificate-based.  Within three to five weeks, each participant who registers and attends the webcast will receive a personalized, signed “Certificate of Completion” to document the training.  

Title: Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act: An Overview
Description:
This popular webcast provides an informative overview of how to comply with the nondiscrimination mandates of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI applies to the administration, oversight, and delivery process of all state and local programs and activities that are federally-assisted. In this webcast, we’ll focus on the scope and meaning of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and we will touch on a variety of compliance-related issues, including environmental justice, serving limited English proficient populations, contracting and procurement, discrimination complaints, harassment and hostile environment, training, monitoring, and data collection. Participants will understand the meaning of race, color, and national origin-based discrimination through Ms. Foster’s use of a variety of easy-to-understand examples. And, participants will learn about surprising federal enforcement policies to include certain types of religious-based discrimination as prohibited under Title VI. A detailed PowerPoint is available for download to viewers of this webcast.

Title: Compliance with the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: A Comprehensive Overview
Description: 
This webcast provides a wealth of information, guidance, and tips to help you ensure compliance with the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and related Federal civil rights laws that apply to the administration, oversight, and delivery process for WIOA Title I-financially assisted programs and activities. In this webcast, we’ll cover a broad range of compliance issues, including taglines, assurances, Equal Opportunity officers (their selection and duties, and the recipients’ obligations in support of EO officers), serving persons with disabilities, serving LEP populations, differences between program complaints and discrimination complaints, harassment and hostile environment, and data collection, including requirements for the discrimination complaint log and storage of medical information. A detailed PowerPoint, updated after promulgation of the final version of the WIOA regulations at 29 C.F.R. Part 38, is available for download to viewers of the webcast.

Title: Discrimination Complaint Investigations under the Workforce Investment Act:  Proper Process and Technique
Description:
This webcast covers the discrimination complaint investigation process from start to finish, including determining jurisdiction, developing a complaint investigation plan, framing the issue of an investigation, developing interrogatories, preparing a letter of acceptance, gathering and analyzing information, interviewing the parties and witnesses, and writing the notice of final action.  Each participant of this webcast will receive a set of templates that they may customize and use for their investigations, including a jurisdiction checklist, sample complaint investigation plans, sample notices rejecting a complaint, a sample letter of acceptance, and a sample notice of final action. Complaint investigation templates and a detailed PowerPoint are available for download to viewers of the webcast. Complaint processing templates and a detailed PowerPoint are available for download to viewers of the webcast.

About Seena Foster
Seena Foster, award-winning civil rights author and Principal of the discrimination consulting firm, Title VI Consulting in Alexandria, Virginia, provides expertise and guidance in the areas of compliance and civil rights investigations to state and local governments, colleges and universities, private companies, and non-profit organizations. To that end, she offers one-hour on-demand webcasts, full-day and half-day in-person training sessions, discrimination complaint investigation assistance, and mediation services addressing a variety of types of discrimination such as racial discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, age discrimination, and religious discrimination. Federal non-discrimination laws are complex, and they affect our workplaces as well as the delivery of our Federally-funded programs and activities. Her book, Civil Rights Investigations under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI Related Laws: From Intake to Final Determination, has been described as an “eye-opening” reading experience and a “stand-alone” training resource. Ms. Foster’s resources and materials are designed to support the work of civil rights and discrimination professionals in the public and private sectors.

Her background includes 24 years as Senior Legal Advisor to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, where she drafted decisions and orders and developed resources and aids promoting consistency and efficiency in several national adjudication programs. In 2012, Ms. Foster received the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Exceptional Achievement Award “for outstanding leadership and legal guidance in helping the Office of Administrative Law Judges address the major changes in law” stemming from enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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 CRC Director Annabelle Lockhart, 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 Section 188 disability checklist, conducting discrimination complaint investigations and writing final determinations, and conducting investigations of allegations involving harassment and hostile environment.

Ms. Foster is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School, and she carries certification in federal workplace mediation from the Northern Virginia Mediation Service as well as mediation certification from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI). Ms. Foster also is a member of the Human Rights and Discrimination Law committees of the International Bar Association. You may contact her at seena@titleviconsulting.com.

Paperback and E-Book: Conducting Civil Rights Investigations in Government Programs and Activities

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

This is the only book on the market that focuses on discrimination complaint investigations in a wide range of Federally-assisted, public-facing programs and activities! Reviews by State and local equal opportunity officials in 2017 include “I love your book,” and the book is “outstanding,” “easy to follow,” and “extremely useful.”

Paperback:
Cost: $19.99 per copy

Go to www.outskirtspress.com/civilrights; or

Email the author at seena@titleviconsulting.com, and you will receive an invoice by PayPal; or

Mail a check for $19.99 per book (plus $3.00 per book for shipping and handling in the United States) payable to Title VI Consulting at 107 S. West St., PMB 713, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Electronic book:
Cost: $9.99 per electronic copy

Available through Nook, or Kindle. For iPad and iTunes, you’ll find the book in the “Law Library.” Access the e-book through the publisher at http://www.outskirtspress.com/civilrights.

Reviewers describe the book as “the most thorough and the best product on the market,” “an eye-opening experience,” “an excellent reference book,” and “an invaluable resource for its target audience of professionals who must respond to complaints of discrimination.”

About the Book

In Civil Rights Investigations, Ms. Foster assembles a tremendous amount of information, presents it in an organized and easy-to-understand format, and delivers it to you along with practical and useful guidance. Whether you are a novice or expert, this book is a truly exceptional resource that takes you step-by-step through the investigative process. And, the teachings offered are applicable to any discrimination complaint investigation.

Starting with the basics of knowing whether you have a complaint and authority to investigate it, to navigating more in-depth concepts such as understanding the burdens of the parties, properly framing the issues of an investigation, interviewing witnesses, analyzing conflicting evidence, and writing final determinations, Civil Rights Investigations is with you each step of the way, providing insights, tips, and examples.

A wide array of discriminatory bases is explored, including race, color, national origin, gender, sexual harassment, religion, disability, political affiliation, citizenship, and age. And, the book contains sample interrogatories covering numerous adverse actions in government programs such as denial of access, denial of training, denial of services, denial of benefits, and denial of proposals or bids. Other sample interrogatories address adverse actions in the workplace, such as sexual harassment, reasonable accommodation, reasonable modification, retaliation, termination, non-selection, non-promotion, adverse performance appraisals, and damages. Finally, the book contains a jurisdiction checklist as well as templates for every stage of the investigation–from notifying the parties that you do not have jurisdiction to investigate a complaint or notifying the parties you have accepted a complaint for investigation to sample complaint investigation plans and a sample final determination on the merits of a complaint.

Civil Rights Investigations is packed with useful information, and it serves as a top-of-the-line resource for any public or private sector equal opportunity professional.

Civil Rights Investigations addresses several Federal civil rights statutes, including Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. Its guidance, however, is useful in any civil rights discrimination investigation, and in developing and implementing preventative measures.

Reviews of the Book

Get this one-of-a-kind book judged by a panel of industry experts as a Finalist in the Business Reference category of The USA “Best Books 2011” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. The book also received a Bronze Medal in the Government/Politics category (top 5% of over 3,000 entries) for the 2012 International Readers Favorite Book Awards. And, in October 2012, Ms. Foster was announced as a “Finalist of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading,” presented by The Authors Show. In October 2013, Civil Rights Investigations was Amazon’s Featured Title of the Week.

Lisa Connor states: “You obviously have a passion for your subject matter–you present your findings in a very well-researched, thorough manner. … I have to say that you have put together an excellent piece”

Omoye Cooper of Albany, New York states: “I have worked in the field of Equal Opportunity for over 30 years and have attended numerous trainings on EO investigations. After attending Seena Foster’s Civil Rights Investigations workshop, I can say without a doubt that it is the most thorough and the best product on the market. Ms. Foster not only gives the technical information, but she also provides step by step guidelines and tools for effective implementation.”

“Ms. Foster’s workshops and book, “Civil Rights Investigations,” are professional resources that are highly recommended for all new and seasoned AA and EEO practitioners. Utilization of her materials will help new EEO professionals build a solid knowledge base that will make it possible to conduct defendable investigations; and for the veteran practitioners, it will take you to another level. Outstanding!”

Readers Favorite (5 out of 5 star ratings):

Brenda Ballard states: Discrimination is a very real problem in the work place but what can a person do? Seena K. Foster, author of “Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act” leads the reader through the law, the process and the various scenarios of the subject. Citing law and providing examples of letters and check lists, information is outlined in concise and understandable terms. The subject matter is broken down into the simplest legal language possible considering the depth and complexity. Believable examples make sense of it all, guiding the reader step by step.

As anybody knows, legal reading can be dry and confusing. Admittedly, there were a few places I personally had to re-read but that would be attributed to my own lack of experience with the subject. I found the examples very useful and was able to utilize the bullet points and checklists to realize the meaning of it all. It was an eye-opening learning experience to read this book! I never realized how much is involved in filing such a suit, getting an investigation underway, working with both parties, and finding resolution. Businesses should consider having this book in their own library as a reference guide in their personnel department. This work could be used as a stand-alone in training sessions for employees and managements. The tremendous effort the author has put into “Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act” is immediately evident. Nothing is left to question and, should there be any residual wonder, references can be looked up. Highly recommended! 5 out of 5 stars!

Lori M. states: Because I am currently taking a graduate-level Human Resources class in Employment Law, this book about civil rights investigations by Seena K. Foster interested me very much. This would make an excellent reference book for HR managers, lawyers, and anyone involved in employee or labor issues. It is very well-organized and provides just the right amount of information that you need on a number of different topics. Foster, who has a law degree, does a good job making the contents interesting, understandable, and easy to follow.

There are specific sections defining race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, citizenship, and disability issues in depth so that any reader can understand what constitutes the definition of discrimination against each. Additionally, she takes you through the steps of how to determine whether or not you have a discrimination complaint, a glossary of terms, jurisdiction, and filing the complaint. I like how Foster included easy-to-use checklists throughout the book to graphically depict what she has already told you in the text. It is a good way to help the reader grasp the information provided and double-check the details. This book talks about statutes of limitations and time frames within which a party has to file a complaint, notifying the parties of a complaint, jurisdictional issues, and even alternative dispute resolution topics such as arbitration or mediation. This book is a great toolkit for those interested in employment law matters dealing with civil rights investigations under the workforce investment act and Title VI-related laws. 5 out of 5 stars!

Alice D. states: “Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI Related Laws” is a book that really needed to be written and now it has been, thank goodness! Author Seena Foster has created a book that focuses on the treatment of individual and class action complaints. From the beginning where she asks the readers to decide whether they have a complaint and whether there is jurisdiction to investigate the complaint, Foster clearly establishes that those pursuing an issue such as discrimination must have merit; in other words, they must have a covered basis such as race, gender and nationality. She is quite clear in insisting that the person charged with the complaint must receive federal funds, and the CP, the charging party, must know how to organize a complaint, how to fill it with statistics and witness information. Then she shows the reader how exactly the CP and the respondent must reply in cases involving such things as employment, hostile work environ ment, and disability. She discusses sexual harassment, especially in the school environment, and writes about the use of mediation in helping parties come to a mutually acceptable solution. Do you think your civil rights have been violated at work? This is the book for you.

“Civil Rights Investigations” is not the type of book that people will grab off bookstore shelves, but they should. Author Seena Foster discusses, clearly and concisely, how the charging party and the respondent should respond in a variety of cases. Chapter after chapter deals with how to handle potential civil rights violations in the workplace and in federally funded programs and activities that have an impact on all of us. The author states that those filing the complaint must give details like why they were not hired, etc., and those who answer the claim must show the same clarity in their response. Specific and easy to read, this book should be in readers’ hands everywhere. 5 out of 5 stars!

Laurie Gray states: “Civil Rights Investigations under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI-Related Laws from Intake to Final Determination” by Seena K. Foster offers guidance to professionals handling discrimination complaints for governmental agencies and employers that receive federal funding covered by the Workforce Investment Act of 1964. The book focuses on individual and class actions as opposed to third-party complaints, identifying and devoting a chapter to each protected class: race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, citizenship, age, political affiliation and belief. The chapters on sexual harassment, religion, and disability are most comprehensive. Foster provides specific examples, sample notices, and clear explanations on how to assess the merit of each complaint, properly frame the issues, develop a Complaint Investigation Plan, and investigate complaints without violating confidentiality policies. She further outlines the relevant burdens of proof and reliability of direct, circumstantial and comparative evidence. Though not for the average lay person, this book is an invaluable resource for its target audience of professionals who must respond to complaints of discrimination in a timely and consistent manner or risk losing their agencies’ federal funding. Ms. Foster clearly understands complex federal laws and regulations and concisely organizes the information in a user-friendly way, highlighting important deadlines, providing detailed questions to ask complaining parties and respondents, and encouraging professionals to seek competent legal advice when necessary. An introduction, conclusion and biography outlining the author’s credentials would be helpful additions to the next edition of the book. I do hope that Ms. Foster will update this informative guide as the laws continue to evolve. 5 out of 5 stars!

Fair Housing News (June 2018)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Dear Colleague,

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Mobile, Alabama-based Bienville Property Management, Inc., which does business as Showhomes Mobile and Baldwin Counties, and its property manager with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent a single-family, three-bedroom house to a woman because she has three young children. Read HUD’s charge.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against families with children, including unlawfully denying or limiting housing, making discriminatory statements, or imposing discriminatory rules or policies.

“Rules that limit the number of children in housing violate the Fair Housing Act,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s action reaffirms HUD’s commitment to protecting the right of families with children to obtain the housing of their choice.”

The case came to HUD’s attention when the woman filed a complaint alleging that Showhomes refused to rent to her because she had more than two minor children. Tests conducted by the Center for Fair Housing, an organization located in Mobile that helps individuals who face housing discrimination, revealed that Showhomes refused to rent to testers who claimed to have more than two minor children. HUD’s charge on behalf of the woman alleges that Showhomes’ rental policies discriminate against families with children by limiting the number of children to two or fewer, even when rental homes have three or more bedrooms, enough to accommodate families with more than two children.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from restricting the number of children in its properties,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “HUD will continue to vigorously enforce the Act to protect families with children.”

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainant for her loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.

April 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. In commemoration, HUD, local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country have coordinated a variety of activities to enhance awareness of fair housing rights, highlight HUD’s fair housing enforcement efforts, and end housing discrimination in the nation. For a list of planned activities, log onto www.hud.gov/fairhousingis50.

Persons 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 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

Federal Transit Authority: Technical Assistance for Corridor Planning (June 2018)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Technical Assistance Opportunity: Multimodal Community Connections Planning Framework

FTA is teaming up with the Federal Highway Administration to offer technical assistance to test the Framework for Better Integrating Health into Transportation Corridor Planning in up to five states or local transportation agencies. The technical assistance will support transportation agencies in developing data-driven, performance-based decision-making to incorporate multimodal access and improved health outcomes into corridor planning. The results should enhance collaboration with stakeholders, safeguard communities, and build partnerships that promote a healthy environment, accessibility and economic revitalization.

Teams should be led by the state, regional or local transportation agency advancing the corridor study. Partnerships are welcome and may include community advocacy groups; land use or economic development agencies; transit providers; public health agencies; or others. Any transportation corridor may be proposed for testing, which runs August 2018-July 2020.

Interested agencies should submit a two- to three-page letter of interest to Victoria Martinez or Alan Tabachnick by July 6, 2018. For additional information, see the Framework technical assistance fact sheet.

Links:
Framework for Better Integrating Health into Transportation Corridor Planning
Framework Technical Assistance fact sheet

Justice Department Settles Claims Against Landscaping Company for Discriminating Against U.S. Workers (June 2018)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with Triple H Services LLC, (Triple H), a landscaping company based in Newland, North Carolina, that conducts business in Virginia and four other states. The agreement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether Triple H discriminated against qualified and available U.S. workers based on their citizenship status by preferring to hire temporary workers with H-2B visas, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Department’s investigation found that although Triple H went through the motions of advertising over 450 landscape laborer vacancies in five states, it did so in a manner that misled U.S. workers about the available positions and prevented or deterred some from applying. The Department found that Triple H did not consider several qualified U.S. workers who applied for positions in Virginia during the recruitment period, and instead hired H-2B visa workers. In several states where jobs were available, the Department found that Triple H prematurely closed the online job application process for U.S. worker applicants, filled positions with H-2B visa workers without first advertising the jobs to U.S. workers in the relevant locations, or advertised vacancies in a manner that did not make the postings visible to job seekers using state workforce agency online services.

The Department concluded that in taking these actions, Triple H effectively denied U.S. workers access to jobs based on its preference for hiring temporary H-2B visa workers to fill the positions. Refusing to consider or hire qualified and available U.S. workers based on their citizenship status violates the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, regardless of whether an employer has complied with other rules governing the use of temporary employment-based visa programs.

Under the settlement, Triple H must establish a back pay fund, with a cap of $85,000, to compensate certain individuals who were harmed by its practices. The agreement also requires Triple H to pay $15,600 in civil penalties, engage in enhanced recruitment activities to attract U.S. workers, and be subject to Departmental monitoring for a three-year period.

“Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against U.S. workers in hiring because of their citizenship status,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Department will continue to fight to ensure that U.S. workers are not disadvantaged because of their citizenship status. I commend Triple H for its cooperation with the Department and its willingness to undertake efforts to recruit U.S. workers that go well beyond the minimum requirements for participation in the H-2B visa worker program.”

Today’s settlement is part of the Civil Rights Division’s 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 temporary visa workers. Under this Initiative, the Civil Rights Division has opened dozens of investigations, filed one lawsuit, and reached settlement agreements with three employers. Since the Initiative’s inception, employers have agreed to pay or have distributed over $285,000 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.

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) 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; and 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: discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or retaliation should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Setpoint Systems Inc. (June 2018)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

The Justice Department today announced that it reached a settlement with Setpoint Systems Inc., an Ogden, Utah, engineering company. The settlement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether the company engaged in hiring discrimination against non-U.S. citizens protected under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision.

The Department’s investigation found that from 2015 to 2017, Setpoint Systems had an unlawful policy of hiring only U.S. citizens for professional positions and refusing to consider otherwise qualified non-U.S. citizens based on the company’s erroneous understanding of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). ITAR regulates specific exports of defense articles and services, and limits the access of certain sensitive information to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, asylees, and refugees. ITAR thus does not authorize employers to only hire U.S. citizens. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual in the recruitment and hiring process based on citizenship status, unless authorized by law.

Under the settlement, Setpoint will pay a $17,475 civil penalty to the United States, train its human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.

“Employers may not adopt discriminatory hiring policies that harm workers who are protected by the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “We look forward to working with Setpoint Systems to ensure that its hiring procedures fully comply with the INA’s protections against citizenship status discrimination.”

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; 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.

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims Against J.C. Penney (June 2018)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc. (J.C. Penney). The agreement resolves two investigations, one into whether J.C. Penney unlawfully rejected a lawful permanent resident’s valid work authorization documentation, and the other into whether J.C. Penney violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by unlawfully reverifying the work authorization of certain non-U.S. citizens based on their citizenship status.

The Department’s first investigation was prompted by a lawful permanent resident’s charge alleging that J.C. Penney violated the INA’s anti-discrimination provision when J.C. Penney fired her in August 2016. The investigation found that J.C. Penney had improperly rejected the worker’s unexpired Permanent Resident Card as proof of her work authorization, based on her citizenship status. The second investigation found that J.C. Penney had unlawfully reverified the work authorization of certain non-U.S. citizens solely based on their citizenship status, even though those non-citizens had presented the same type of valid work authorization documents as U.S. citizens when first hired. The Department also found that J.C. Penney unlawfully requested specific immigration documents from certain workers during the process of reverifying their work authorization because of their immigration status. Among other things, the INA prohibits employers from (1) rejecting valid work authorization documents, (2) limiting a worker’s choice of documentation to present for employment verification or reverification purposes, and (3) subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands, based on the employee’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the terms of the settlement, J.C. Penney will pay a civil penalty of $14,430 to the United States, provide $11,177.60 in back pay to the worker who filed the charge, train its staff and corporate human resources personnel, post notices informing workers about their rights, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.

“Employers should not impose unlawful and discriminatory burdens on employees based on their citizenship or immigration status during the reverification process,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “It is critical for all employers to correctly train their employees on proper Form I-9 procedures at both initial hiring and reverification, and I am pleased that J.C. Penney has agreed to undertake such training.”

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; and 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 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.

Statement from U.S. Education Department Secretary DeVos on the Government Reform Plan (June 2018)

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2018
Contact: Press Office
(202) 401-1576 or press@ed.gov

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement:

“President Trump campaigned and won with his promise to reduce the federal footprint in education and to make the federal government more efficient and effective. Today’s bold reform proposal takes a big step toward fulfilling that promise. Artificial barriers between education and workforce programs have existed for far too long. We must reform our 20th century federal agencies to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

“This proposal will make the federal government more responsive to the full range of needs faced by American students, workers, and schools. I urge Congress to work with the Administration to make this proposal a reality.”

The full government reform plan can be found here.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Weekly Digest Bulletin Featuring Select Task Force on Harassment and Sex Discrimination Settlement in Disparate Impact Case (June 2018)

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

EEOC SELECT TASK FORCE ON HARASSMENT HEARS FROM EXPERTS ON HOW TO PREVENT WORKPLACE HARASSMENT

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace reconvened today to hear from expert witnesses on “Transforming #MeToo Into Harassment-Free Workplaces” at a meeting open to the public.

“Our co-chairs’ report on harassment laid the groundwork for the launch of a renewed effort to prevent harassment,” stated Acting EEOC Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “Since last fall, the public’s demand for action has coalesced with this effort. The EEOC will continue to lead the fight against workplace harassment and to promote solutions to prevent it.”

EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum added, “Our challenge is to use this #MeToo moment well. We have a road map given the work we have done at the EEOC. We have the attention and commitment of the range of different actors in society that we need. Together, we can channel that energy to create significant and sustainable change.”

Legal scholars and attorneys who represent workers and employers highlighted a range of issues raised in the wake of high-profile allegations of sexual harassment since October 2017 and the rise in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. These experts discussed non-disclosure and arbitration agreements and training mandates, and shared proposals for legal reform from state legislatures and industry groups, who have taken up action to address sexual harassment in the workplace.

Elizabeth Tippett, a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law, provided an overview of a range of legal issues and noted the importance of also addressing other forms and aspects of harassment. “It would be a mistake for employers and state legislators to limit their response exclusively to sexual harassment,” Tippett said. “In doing so, they risk laying a foundation for the next crisis, whether it involves other forms of harassment, or discrimination and retaliation.”

Debra Katz, a partner with Katz, Marshall and Banks, said, “#MeToo movement forces society to see the gaps between the promises of our politicians and lawmakers and the realities of individuals, face to face in the workplace.” Katz outlined how Title VII and state laws have been thwarted for too long by evasions that the legal system itself has sanctioned. “#MeToo illustrates the immense cost of that failure,” Katz noted.

Kathleen McKenna, a partner at Proskauer Rose, who represents employers, testified that arbitration provides a neutral and confidential process to resolve individual harassment complaints for conduct that employers “invariably prohibit and work to guard against.” McKenna also explained that proposals to prohibit non-disclosure agreements are likely to be counterproductive, as that could lead to an increase in litigation rather than private resolution.

Suzanne Hultin with the National Conference of State Legislatures testified that over “125 pieces of legislation have been introduced this year in 32 states.” Hultin noted that many states are looking to go beyond federal regulations to prevent workplace sexual harassment. She projected that proposals to address and prevent harassment would continue to be a priority for state legislatures this year and next.

A second panel presented innovative strategies that employers, unions, and others have developed to promote workplaces free of harassing conduct.

Jill Geisler, a fellow with the Newseum’s Freedom Forum Institute, described the Power Shift Project, a solutions-based effort about what newsrooms and media organizations are doing to deal with emerging cases of sexual misconduct, and what systemic changes are needed to end harassment and promote opportunity for all. While discussing the Power Shift Summit, the kick-off event for the project, Geisler described “a sense of new urgency and serious commitment among participants to fix these problems and create meaningful, sustainable change.”

Kasey Nalls, a member of the union UNITEHERE, described the “Hands Off Pants On” campaign that was spearheaded by UNITE HERE Local 1 and the Chicago Federation of Labor two years before the #MeToo movement exploded last fall. The initiative helps protect hotel workers from sexual harassment and assault by guests and an ordinance adopting it was unanimously passed by the Chicago City Council in October 2017. “Since the anti-sexual harassment policy went in to effect in January 2018, we’ve observed a chipping away at culture that permeates the hospitality industry that the “‘guest is always right,’” said Nalls.

Erin Wade and her staff at a restaurant called Homeroom developed a simple color-coded system for wait staff to use to signal if they confront harassing conduct from a customer, which then triggers a specific, mandated action by the manager to handle the situation. Wade emphasized that “We need to listen to the suggestions of women for how to solve the problems plaguing them, and put them in the position to change their own worlds.” She reported the success of this system as customer harassment is no longer a significant problem and the system has created a safe workplace for staff.

Jess Ladd, founder and CEO of Callisto, testified about her non-profit’s online documentation and reporting platforms in which the first report of a harassing incident creates a “matching escrow” that allows victims of sexual harassment to hold their identities in escrow until another victim of the same harasser comes forward. The second report triggers both victims being put in touch with the same Callisto legal advocate. “Callisto Expansion is designed to help victims understand the full range of their options, from HR to police to the press to the EEOC to confronting their perpetrator. We help victims understand which of these options they can pursue, given their case and the case of linked victims,” Ladd testified.

Lisa Gelobter, CEO and co-founder of tEQuitable, has created an independent, confidential platform to address issues of bias, discrimination and harassment in the workplace. She said that tEQuitable has built a third-party, tech-enabled Ombuds program, which “is the only platform implementing solutions to proactively stop harassment, not just reactively catch harassers after the fact.”

The Select Task Force, co-chaired in 2015 and 2016 by EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum and Commissioner and now-Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic, consisted of representatives of academia and social science; legal practitioners on both the plaintiff and defense sides; employer and employee advocacy groups; and organized labor. Co-Chairs Feldblum and Lipnic released a report based on the work of the task force on June 20, 2016. The report includes recommendations regarding leadership, accountability, policies and procedures, training, and developing a sense of collective responsibility.

As a result of the co-chairs’ report, the EEOC developed an innovative training program called Respectful Workplaces that has been provided in over 200 training sessions to over 5,200 employees and supervisors in 18 states. Since June 2016, when the report was released, the EEOC has also con-ducted about 2,700 outreach events related to harassment, reaching approximately 300,000 individuals.

The Task Force heard from the following witnesses during the meeting:

• Elizabeth Tippett, University of Oregon School of Law
• Debra Katz, Katz, Marshall & Banks
• Kathleen McKenna, Proskauer Rose
• Suzanne Hultin, National Conference of State Legislatures
• Jill Geisler, Power Shift Project, Freedom Forum Institute
• Kasey Nalls, UNITEHERE
• Erin Wade, Homeroom Mac & Cheese
• Jess Ladd, Callisto
• Lisa Gelobter, tEQuitable

The written statements of the witnesses are available at www.eeoc.gov.

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.

CSX TRANSPORTATION TO PAY $3.2 MILLION TO SETTLE EEOC DISPARATE IMPACT SEX DISCRIMINATION CASE
Railroad to Cease Challenged Physical Abilities Testing, Federal Agency Announces

HUNTINGTON, W.V. – CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) will pay $3.2 million and furnish other relief to settle a company-wide sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, CSXT conducted isokinetic strength testing as a requirement for workers to be hired for various jobs. The EEOC said that the strength test used by CSXT, known as the “IPCS Biodex” test, caused an unlawful discriminatory impact on female workers seeking jobs as con­ductors, material handler/clerks, and a number of other job categories. The EEOC also charged that CSXT used two other employment tests, a three-minute step test seeking to measure aerobic capacity and a dis­continued arm endurance test, as a requirement for selection into certain jobs, and that those tests also caused an unlawful discriminatory effect on female workers.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including the use of tests that are administered to all applicants and employees regardless of sex but that cause a discriminatory effect or impact on persons of a particular sex or any other demographic category. Employers using such tests must prove that those practices are necessary for safe and efficient perform­ance of the specific jobs for which the tests are used. Even if this necessity is proven, such tests are prohibited by Title VII if it is shown that there are alternative practices that can achieve the employers’ objectives but have a less discrimin­atory effect.

The EEOC originally filed the lawsuit (U.S. EEOC v. CSX Transportation, Inc. Case No. 3:17-cv-03731) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Huntington on Aug. 1, 2017. The EEOC and CSXT agreed to settle the EEOC’s disparate impact claims before any ruling by the federal court. The EEOC did not allege any intentional discrimination by CSXT in this case.

The consent decree settling the EEOC’s lawsuit, which has received approval by the federal court, requires CSXT to cease the physical abilities testing practices that the EEOC charged were causing a disparate impact against female workers. The decree also requires CSXT to pay $3.2 million into a settlement fund to pay lost wages and benefits to a class of women in over 20 states who were denied positions because of the testing. Under the decree, CSXT must also retain expert consultants to conduct scientific studies before adopting certain types of physical abilities testing programs for use in its hiring.

“We commend CSX Transportation for working collaboratively with the EEOC to address our concerns about the railroad’s physical abilities testing program,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “The company’s willingness to confer with the EEOC about the agency’s concerns and its agree­ment to cease the testing practices at issue reflect a corporate commitment to gender diversity and inclu­sion that will benefit both workers and the company.”

EEOC Pittsburgh Area Office Director Roosevelt Bryant said, “Railroad and other transportation occupations provide excellent career opportunities for women when sex-based barriers to their participa­tion in those jobs are removed. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that all workers have an equal oppor­tunity for hiring and advancement in such work.”

EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson said, “The EEOC will continue to carefully examine employer testing and screening practices to identify those that operate as systemic barriers to employment based on protected characteristics. Workers who believe they are being subjected to the discriminatory effects of such practices should bring them to the attention of the EEOC.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women and persons with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

According to company information, CSX Corporation, together with its subsidiaries based in Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the nation’s leading transportation suppliers. CSX’s principal operating company, CSX Transportation, provides an important link to the transportation supply chain through its approximately 21,000 route-mile rail network, which serves major population centers in 23 states east of the Mississippi River, the District of Columbia and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. CSX serves more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. CSX also serves thousands of production and distribution facilities through connections to more than 240 short line and regional railroads.

The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC’s Pittsburgh Area Office, one of four component offices of the agency’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys of the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.