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EEOC Joins Federal Partners to Produce Resource Guide for Employers

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Guide Creates Central Repository of User-Friendly Information and Resources to Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Feb. 3, at a Summit on Disability and Employment, the White House announced a new guide for employers that compiles key federal and federally funded resources related to the employment of people with disabilities. The resource guide, Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities, provides employers with plain language technical assistance tools in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format. The guide was produced by the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative — a federal interagency effort working to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence for people with disabilities.

The goal of the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative is to coordinate and leverage existing resources across the federal government. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Office of EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum has played a leadership role in the Curb Cuts Initiative.

As Commissioner Chai Feldblum explained, “We have heard time and time again that employers do not want to visit ten government websites to access the information they need. This resource guide is an example of federal agencies coming together to respond to the needs of employers by creating a central repository of user-friendly information and resources. I am proud of the integral role the EEOC played in putting this resource guide together.”

“This resource guide underscores the EEOC’s commitment to conduct proactive outreach and education to help businesses strengthen efforts to recruit, hire, retain, and promote people with disabilities,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. For more information, go to www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC Seeks to Improve Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Process

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on the equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint process in the federal sector, the agency announced today. The ANPRM, which has been coordinated with other federal agencies, is posted for public inspection today and will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow.

The ANPRM signals the first public comprehensive review of the federal sector EEO complaint process undertaken by the EEOC in several decades. The ANPRM contains a series of questions intended to encourage new thinking about the federal sector process.

The EEOC became responsible for the federal sector EEO complaint process in 1979 when it inherited a complaint process from the Civil Service Commission. Through rulemaking over the past decades, the EEOC has enhanced the process it inherited. The EEOC is interested in hearing from the public whether the current process can be improved, and if so, whether far-reaching reforms are necessary or whether the process requires only a modest fine-tuning.

EEOC Chair Jenny Yang said, “I am encouraged by the prospect of reform to the federal sector complaint process, and I am pleased that Commissioner Feldblum has agreed to take the lead in this effort.” The last significant change to the federal sector EEO complaint process occurred in 1999. “For years, many people have discussed the possibility of reform,” said Commissioner Chai Feldblum. “The Commission is vitally interested in how to make the complaint process work better. I and my colleagues look forward to hearing from interested stakeholders and the public on this issue and working to create a more efficient and effective process that will benefit both federal employers and employees.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its public website at www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC Releases Fiscal Year 2014 Enforcement and Litigation Data

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Percentage of Claims Alleging Retaliation Reaches Record High, While Number of Charges Decrease

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a comprehensive set of fiscal year 2014 private sector data tables providing detailed breakdowns for the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received. The fiscal year ran from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014.

The number of charges filed decreased compared with recent fiscal years, due in part to the government shutdown during the reporting period. While charge filings were down overall compared to the previous fiscal year, first quarter charge filings–which included the period of the shutdown–were 3,000 to 5,000 less than the other quarters.

Among the charges the EEOC received, the percentage of charges alleging retaliation reached its highest amount ever: 42.8 percent. The percentage of charges alleging race discrimination, the second most common allegation, has remained steady at approximately 35 percent. In fiscal year 2014, the EEOC obtained $296.1 million in total monetary relief through its enforcement program prior to the filing of litigation.

The number of lawsuits on the merits filed by the EEOC’s Office of General Counsel throughout the nation was 133, up slightly from the previous two fiscal years. A lawsuit on the merits involves an allegation of discrimination, compared with procedural lawsuits, which are filed mostly to enforce subpoenas or for preliminary relief. Monetary relief from cases litigated, including settlements, totaled $22.5 million.

“Behind these numbers are individuals who turned to the EEOC because they believe that they have suffered unlawful discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “The EEOC remains committed to meaningful resolution of charges and strategic enforcement to eliminate barriers to equal employment opportunity.”

The updated data include the popular tables of Statutes by Issue and Bases by Issue. “Bases” refers to the protected characteristics giving rise to the discrimination, such as sex or age. In contrast “issue” is the discriminatory action, such as discharge or failure to promote.

More specifically, the charge numbers show the following breakdowns by bases alleged in descending order.
•Retaliation under all statutes: 37,955 (42.8 percent of all charges filed)
•Race (including racial harassment): 31,073 (35 percent)
•Sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment): 26,027 (29.3 percent)
•Disability: 25,369 (28.6 percent)
•Age: 20,588 (23.2 percent)
•National Origin: 9,579 (10.8 percent)
•Religion: 3,549 (4.0 percent)
•Color: 2,756 (3.1 percent)
•Equal Pay Act: 938 (1.1 percent) but note that sex-based wage discrimination can also be charged under Title VII’s sex discrimination provision
•Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 333 (0.4 percent)

These percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases, such as discrimination on the bases of race and color, or sex and retaliation.

In fiscal year 2014, 30 percent of the charges filed with EEOC alleged the issue of harassment on various bases, such as race harassment or harassment on the basis of disability. Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach is a priority issue for the Commission. The January 14, 2015 Commission meeting focused on Workplace Harassment. The new table for All Harassment Charges includes sexual harassment as well as other forms of harassment. Sexual Harassment still remains as a separate table, joined by new tables showing charges of Race Harassment as well as Charges Alleging Harassment Other than Sexual Harassment.

Discharge continues to be the most common issue for all bases under Title VII, the ADEA and the ADA. Allegations of harassment for all bases were the next most frequently cited issue, with the exception of race. For the basis of race, discriminatory terms and conditions of employment was the second most frequently cited issue (9,332), with harassment being the third (9,023).

The updated tables also include Charges by State. The greatest number of charges were filed in Texas (8,035), followed by Florida (7,528) and California (6,363).

The EEOC enforces the nation’s laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.

What You Should Know about the EEOC and Enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act

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July 26, 2014 is the 24th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Title 1 of the ADA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against qualified job applicants and employees based on their physical or mental disabilities. The law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to job applicants and employees who need them because of their disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. These requirements apply to businesses with 15 or more employees, and state and local governments.

We are proud of our efforts to enforce this landmark law and will continue to work to eradicate disability discrimination. To that end, the Commission recently adopted a Strategic Enforcement Plan, identifying certain emerging issues under the ADA as a national enforcement priority.

Since EEOC began enforcing the ADA in July 1992 the number of charges alleging disability discrimination has grown from just over 15,000 in FY 1993 to near 26,000 last fiscal year. Through the resolution of these charges during the investigatory process and conciliation, the EEOC has obtained millions of dollars in monetary benefits, most recently obtaining $109.2 million for the victims of disability discrimination in FY 2013. A few recent and notable conciliations are highlighted below:
•A nationwide systemic investigation of a major retail establishment was successfully resolved by a conciliation agreement when the employer agreed to pay $2.3 million to a class of 76 individuals whom the EEOC found were denied reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Under the agreement, the employer has also agreed to make significant changes to its reasonable accommodation policies and practices nationwide; to conduct issue specific training for employees on the ADA and reasonable accommodations.
•In an ADA leave policy case, the Chicago District conciliated a charge for over $1.6 million. Approximately 2,000 individuals were affected by the employer’s nationwide policy of denying additional leave as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The conciliation agreement included provisions requiring the employer to revise its disability leave policy at all of its facilities nationwide, post a notice for all employees, conduct ADA training for all managers, supervisors and Human Resources personnel and EEOC monitoring of any revisions or modifications of its leave policy for the term of the agreement.

Since July 2013 alone, the Commission has filed more than 50 lawsuits alleging disability discrimination. The Commission filed these lawsuits to seek relief for discrimination victims with a variety of impairments, including cancer (e.g., breast cancer, basal cell carcinoma, and colon cancer), dwarfism, epilepsy, deafness, blindness, retinitis pigmentosa, Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy, Usher’s Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, HIV, multiple sclerosis, spinal stenosis, neuropathy, herniated discs and other back impairments, diabetes, anemia, coronary artery disease, end-stage renal disease, PTSD, narcolepsy, depression, anxiety disorder, and dyslexia.

The alleged discrimination has included failure to provide reasonable accommodation (including the failure to provide appropriate leave for disability-related needs or treatment); asking prohibited disability-related questions of employees; refusing to hire qualified applicants based on myths, fears, or stereotypes concerning certain impairments, and discharging qualified workers on the basis of disability.

A few notable cases addressed by courts or resolved over the past year are highlighted below:
•EEOC v. Hill Country Farms. The EEOC obtained the largest award ever under the ADA and the largest award in the history of the EEOC – $240 million for the class of men with intellectual disabilities. The EEOC alleged that a food processing plant in Iowa subjected a group of 32 workers with intellectual disabilities to a hostile work environment, discriminatory pay, and other discriminatory terms of employment for many years. Specifically, the company paid the men only $65 a month for full-time work, subjected them to abusive verbal and physical harassment, restricted their freedom of movement, required them to live in deplorable and sub-standard living conditions, and failed to provide adequate medical care. In September 2012, the court entered partial judgment for the EEOC and ordered the company to pay class members $1.3 million in back pay for work they performed between 2007 and 2009. In May 2013, a jury returned a verdict of $240 million for the class (reduced by the court to $1.6 million because of the ADA’s damages cap). Ultimately, the court ordered payment of $3.4 million for the class members. In May 2014, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the entry of judgment in favor of the EEOC.
•In EEOC v. Ford Motor Company. The EEOC sued Ford Motor charging that the company’s denial of a particular employee’s request to work from home up to four days a week as an accommodation for her irritable bowel syndrome violated the ADA. Harris was a resale steel buyer whose job primarily required telephone and computer contact with coworkers and suppliers. Ford’s telecommuting policy authorized employees to work up to four days a week from a telecommuting site. The district court granted summary judgment for Ford Motor, holding that attendance at the job site was an essential function of the employee’s job, and that her disability-related absences meant that she was not a “qualified” individual under the ADA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court, explaining that “the law must respond to the advance of technology in the employment context . . . and recognize that the ‘workplace’ is anywhere that an employee can perform her job duties.” The Appeals Court held that the “highly fact-specific” question was whether presence at the Ford facilities was truly essential, and that a jury should decide that issue.
•EEOC v. Princeton Healthcare. The EEOC sued Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS), alleging that its fixed leave policy failed to consider leave as a reasonable accommodation, in violation of the ADA. According to the EEOC, since PHCS’s leave policy merely tracked the requirements of the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees who were not eligible for FMLA leave were fired after being absent for a short time, and many more were fired once they were out more than 12 weeks. Under the consent decree settling the suit PHCS will pay $1,350,000, which the EEOC will distribute to employees who were unlawfully terminated under PHCS’s former policy. PHCS also is prohibited from having a blanket policy that limits the amount of leave time an employee covered by the ADA may take. PHCS must instead engage in an interactive process with covered employees, including employees with a disability related to pregnancy, when deciding how much leave is needed. In addition, PHCS can no longer require employees returning from disability leave to present a fitness for duty certification stating that they are able to return to work without any restrictions. PHCS also agreed that it will not subject employees to progressive discipline for ADA-related absences, and will provide training on the ADA to its workforce.

Other significant resolutions of EEOC cases involving leave and attendance policies from previous years include Interstate Distributor, ($4.85 million nationwide resolution challenging maximum 12-week leave policy), Supervalu ($3.2 million resolution challenging termination of approximately 1,000 employees at the end of medical leave),Sears ($6.2 million resolution challenging automatic termination policy and failure to accommodate employees injured at work) and Verizon ($20 million nationwide resolution challenging “no fault” attendance policy).

In fiscal year 2013, the Commission’s outreach, education and technical assistance efforts focused on increasing voluntary compliance with federal equal employment laws and on improving employee and employer awareness of rights and responsibilities under federal employment discrimination laws, especially among underserved groups and in underserved areas. To this end, in FY 2013 the EEOC reached more than 60,000 individuals with information concerning the ADA through 850 outreach and education events. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of people educated about the ADA over the past 24 years.

The Commission has developed a robust catalogue of technical assistance documents on the ADA as well as publications outlining how the law may apply to medical conditions, and the workplace rights of individuals with those conditions. On May 15, 2013, the EEOC issued updates on four of these documents to address how changes in the definition of “disability” as a result of the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) may affect who is covered under the ADA. The revised documents include the following:
•Cancer in the Workplace and the ADA
•Diabetes in the Workplace and the ADA
•Epilepsy in the Workplace and the ADA
•Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in the Workplace and the ADA

Additionally, the EEOC has recently issued guidance designed to address questions from mental health providers concerning their role in the reasonable accommodation process, as well as the employment of veterans with disabilities.

We will continue our efforts to eradicate discrimination in the workplace by enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws and educating employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities.

Skanska USA Building to Pay $95,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

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Building Contractor Ignored Complaints of Racial Harassment and Fired Black Employees in Retaliation, Federal Agency Charges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Skanska USA Building, Inc., a building contractor headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., will pay $95,000 to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Skanska violated federal law by allowing workers to subject a class of black employees who were working as buck hoist operators to racial harassment, and by firing them for complaining to Skanska about the misconduct. Skanska served as the general contractor on the Methodist Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, where the incidents in this lawsuit took place. The class of black employees worked for C-1, Inc. Construction Company, a minority-owned subcontractor for Skanska. Skanska awarded a subcontract to C-1 to provide buck hoist operations for the construction site and thereafter supervised all C-1 employees while at the work site.

The EEOC charged that Skanska failed to properly investigate complaints from the buck hoist operators that white employees subjected them to racially offensive comments and physical assault. The EEOC alleged that after Maurice Knox, one of the buck hoist operators, complained about having urine and feces thrown on him at the job site, Skanska cancelled its contract with C-1 Inc., and immediately fired all of its black buck hoist operators. With assistance from the Memphis Minority Business Council’s president, Skanska reinstated the contract with C-1 and recalled the black buck hoist operators to work. The white employees, however, continued to subject the buck hoist operators to racial harassment on a daily basis.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Skanska USA Building, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-02717) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

During litigation, Skanska asserted that it did not employ the sub-contracted buck hoist operators. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee ruled in favor of Skanska, granting summary judgment. After the EEOC appealed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the ruling and remanded the case. The Sixth Circuit acknowledged that it had not previously applied the joint employer theory in a Title VII case. According to the joint employer theory, two separate entities are considered to be joint employers if they share or co-determine essential terms and conditions of employment. The Sixth Circuit adopted the joint employer theory in the Title VII context and held that there was sufficient evidence to hold Skanska liable as a joint employer because Skanska supervised and controlled the day-to-day activities of the buck hoist operators.

Besides the $95,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit enjoins Skanska from subjecting employees to racial harassment or retaliating against any employee who lodges a discrimination complaint. The consent decree also requires defendant to provide in-person training on race discrimination and retaliation, maintain records of any complaints of racial harassment, and provide annual reports to the EEOC. Knox intervened in the EEOC’s lawsuit and settled his claim separately for an undisclosed amount.

“Employees should not have to endure a racially hostile work environment to make a living,” said Faye Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which serves Tennessee, Arkansas and portions of Mississippi. “This case highlights the importance of companies providing training in the workplace on anti-discrimination laws for its employees.”

According to company information, Skanska USA Building, Inc. is a building contractor with approximately 3,000 employees and 26 offices nationwide. Skanska acts as a general contractor for many construction sites, including the Methodist Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, which was completed in 2010.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Cynthia Gilliam Pierre Named Chief Operating Officer of EEOC

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Agency Veteran Returns to Management Post After Service with the Department of Education

WASHINGTON-Jenny R. Yang, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), has named Cynthia Gilliam Pierre to be the agency’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), the agency announced. The COO manages all aspects of the Commission’s day-to-day operations.

“In this 50th anniversary year of the founding of the EEOC, we are pleased to have a COO with the breadth of management experience and knowledge of our programs and culture that Cynthia Pierre brings to this important position,” said Chair Yang. “I look forward to working with her as we position the agency for the next 50 years of service to the nation.”

Pierre returns to the agency where she first started her service in 1982 as a program analyst in its Houston district office. She spent 26 years at the EEOC in various positions including director of the EEOC’s Birmingham, Ala., district office and director of Field Management Programs. Most recently, she worked at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, where she held the positions of Regional Director in Atlanta, and prior to that, Enforcement Director.

“I am delighted to return to the agency where I first started my career and whose mission-fighting employment discrimination-is so vital,” said Pierre. “I have already rekindled relationships with former colleagues and started new ones. I am grateful to Chair Yang for giving me this new opportunity to serve.”

A native of Lawrenceville, Va., Pierre holds a B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania; an M.A. from Antioch University; and a Ph.D. in public administration from the George Washington University. She also has completed the Senior Managers in Government Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

EEOC Sues Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors for Age Discrimination and Retaliation

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Company Fired Employees When They Turned 62 and Punished One for Resisting, Federal Agency Charges

MADISON, Wis. – Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors, Inc., of Superior, Wis., a major heating and plumbing contractor in northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, violated federal law by firing two employees when they reached age 62 and by retaliating against one of those employees for resisting the company’s plan to discriminate against her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to Julianne Bowman, acting director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin, the agency’s investigation revealed that Stack Bros. discriminated against Randy Virta and Karen Kolodzeske by firing them when they turned 62 in February and September 2014, respectively. Stack Bros. also retaliated against Kolodzeske for resisting its plans to fire her, the EEOC said.

Bowman said the EEOC found that both Virta and Kolodzeske repeatedly warned Stack Bros.’ owner that his plan to fire them when they turned 62 was illegal, but the owner refused to relent and, after firing Virta, retaliated against Kolodzeske for her complaints, first by denying her a raise and then by demoting her and cutting her hours and pay while waiting for her to turn 62. Virta and Kolodzeske had worked for Stack Bros. for 16 and 25 years, respectively.

Stack Bros.’ alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees and job applicants on the basis of age. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, reinstatement, front pay and liquidated damages for Virta and Kolodzeske, an order barring future discrimination and retaliation, and other relief. The suit, captioned EEOC v. Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors, Inc., (Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-00060), was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison and assigned to U.S. District Judge William M. Conley and Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker.

“The conduct in this case was utterly unacceptable,” Bowman said. “The experience, expertise and wisdom of older workers are essential to our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy and the ability of those workers to continue to be employed without discrimination is critical to their economic well-being and quality of life. When age discrimination invades the workplace, everybody loses. ”

EEOC Trial Attorney Dennis R. McBride, who will litigate the case on the agency’s behalf, said, “If we looked the other way while Stack Bros. fired Mr. Virta and Ms. Kolodzeske merely for turning 62, it would signal that we’re not serious about enforcing federal laws against age discrimination – and that is certainly not the case. The EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce the ADEA, and we’ll continue to challenge employers who retaliate against workers who exercise their statutory right to complain about mistreatment.”

EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John C. Hendrickson said, “Employers often speak about how valuable loyalty in the workplace is. But it’s a two-way street. Employees who have been at their jobs for 15 or 25 years — like those in this case — are entitled to expect that their employers will not put them on the street because of their age and in defiance of federal law. When Stack Bros. fired Mr. Virta and Ms. Kolodzeske because of their age, it ruptured the band of loyalty and damaged its own business. The EEOC is here to make matters right.”

According to its website, Stack Bros. is a privately held corporation and is a major heating and plumbing contractor in the Upper Midwest. Another website lists the company’s annual revenue as $5 to $10 million.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. The case will be litigated by attorneys in the Milwaukee Area Office.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the agency is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

Kmart Will Pay $102,048 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

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Major Retailer Refused to Hire Applicant Because Kidney Disease Precluded Urine Sample, Federal Agency Charged

BALTIMORE – Kmart Corporation, a leading national retailer, will pay $102,048 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the lawsuit, after Kmart offered Lorenzo Cook a job at its Hyattsville, Md., store, Cook advised the hiring manager that he could not provide a urine sample for the company’s manda­tory pre-employment drug screening due to his kidney disease and dialysis. Cook requested a reason­able accommodation such as a blood test, hair test, or other drug test that did not require a urine sample, the EEOC charged. Kmart refused to provide that alternative test and denied Cook employ­ment because of his disability, according to the suit.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation, including during the application and hiring process, unless it can show it would be an undue hardship. The ADA also prohibits employers from refusing to hire individuals because of their disability.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Kmart Corporation; Sears Holdings Management Corporation, Civil Action No. 13-cv-02576) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing $102,048 in monetary relief to Cook, the two-year consent decree resolving this lawsuit provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Kmart from taking adverse employment actions on the basis of disability and failing to provide a reasonable accommo­dation. Kmart is also revising its drug testing policies and forms to specify the availability of reason­able accommodation for applicants or employees in the company’s drug testing processes. The decree also requires Kmart to provide training on the equal employment opportunity laws enforced by the EEOC, and on Kmart’s ADA policy and the provision of reasonable accommodation, including as it relates to the company’s drug testing processes. This training is required for all store managers, store assistant managers and human resources leads in the district where the alleged discrimination occurred. Kmart will also post a notice regarding the resolution of this lawsuit.

“There was a readily available alternative to the urinalysis test in this situation,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. “This case demonstrates that the consequences of failing to comply with the ADA can be far more expensive than the actual cost of providing a reason­able accommodation.”

EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “We are pleased that this settlement compensates Mr. Cook for the harm he suffered and contains equitable relief designed to ensure that all employees and applicants with disabilities will receive equal employment opportunities, including reasonable accommodations as required by law.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.

The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Cleaning Authority of Plainfield to Pay $15,000 to Resolve EEOC Disability Suit

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House Cleaning Service Subjected Employee to Unlawful Inquiries and Harassment Based on Abnormal Gait, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO – Mont Brook, Inc., doing business as The Cleaning Authority of Plainfield, will pay $15,000 to a former employee as part of a three-year consent decree resolving a civil rights suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today.

The EEOC charged that the Plainfield, Ill.-based house cleaning service violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when one of the company’s officers harassed an employee who walks with an abnormal gait due a stroke. According to the agency’s complaint, the officer referred to the employee as “a cripple,” mockingly imitated the way she walks, and told her that she was being a “hysterical basket case” when she objected. The officer also reportedly asked the employee, “Are you crippled?”

The company had argued that since such conduct involved a small number of instances over a two-day period, it was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to be unlawful harassment. However, the court rejected that argument and denied the company’s request to dismiss the case.

The ADA prohibits subjecting an employee to harassment because of her disability. It also prohibits making disability-related inquiries of any employee – whether disabled or not – unless the inquiry is job-related and justified by a business need.

The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Mont Brook, Inc. d/b/a The Cleaning Authority of Plainfield, Civil Action No. 13-cv-6799, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle entered the decree resolving the suit on January 23, 2015. In addition to monetary relief for the former employee, the decree requires that the company provide training to its managers and other employees about the ADA, and imposes record-keeping and reporting requirements for the duration of the decree, among other measures.

“When directed at an individual with a physical disability, ‘cripple’ is a profoundly offensive and degrading epithet,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. “Courts and the EEOC have long recognized that the use of unambiguously discriminatory epithets by a manager to a subordinate can quickly create an abusive working environment. All employees have the right to work in an environment free from discriminatory insults and ridicule – and that includes employees with disabilities.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC Names Robbie Dix Director of Agency’s Federal Appellate Review Programs

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WASHINGTON – Jenny Yang, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), has appointed Robbie Dix III as the EEOC’s Associate Director of Appellate Review Programs, the EEOC announced today.

Dix has served as Acting Director of Appellate Review Programs, a critical component of EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO).

“This is a significant step forward,” said Yang. “The Appellate Review Programs is a critical and essential component to the Commission’s overall enforcement of civil rights laws. Robbie’s wealth of experience and steadfast commitment to a vigorous enforcement of those laws is invaluable; he is perfectly suited to lead the Appellate Review Programs.”

Dix said, “I am deeply honored by the opportunity Chair Yang has afforded me. I thank her for entrusting me with the responsibility to direct the adjudicatory aspect of the Commission’s pursuit of equal employment opportunity in the federal government. While tremendous progress has been made, I look forward to implementing the Commission’s vision of a timely, efficacious, and outstanding appellate program.”

During his tenure at EEOC, Dix has served in a wide array of leadership positions, including Acting Director of the Appellate Review Programs, Director of the Review Division, Acting Director, Office of Equal Employment Opportunity; Acting Director, Office of Review and Appeals and Senior Trial Attorney, Systemic Programs, Office of General Counsel. He also was appointed by former EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien to serve on the Strategic Enforcement Plan Work Group, which established the priorities which were ultimately approved by the Commission.

OFO Director Carlton Hadden said, “I am grateful that Robbie Dix will lead our work in the Appellate Review Programs. He is a visionary leader who will be a key player in moving the federal government forward to achieving a real model EEO status.”

OFO provides leadership and guidance to federal agencies on the federal government’s equal employment opportunity (EEO programs); develops and implements Commission-approved affirmative employment policies; assures federal agency compliance with Commission regulations which establish systems for the fair adjudication of discrimination complaints; and administers the appeals process for the federal sector. As well, it provides guidance and leadership for all other Commission activities to effect government-wide EEO processes and programs.

The Appellate Review Programs is a major component of EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.