EEOC Enforcement Priorities

stroud_thumb

 

Please call Tracy Stroud with questions about employment law or other civil litigation issues at 252-321-2020.

 

These are some of the areas the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been focusing on for the last several years:

Sexual Discrimination and LGBT Coverage

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity in its list of protected classes, but the Commission, consistent with case law from the Supreme Court and other courts, interprets the statute’s sex discrimination provision as prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2012, the EEOC held that discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender (also known as gender identity discrimination) is discrimination because of sex and therefore is prohibited under Title VII. See Macy v. Department of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120120821 (April 20, 2012). The Commission has also held that discrimination against an individual because of that person’s sexual orientation is discrimination because of sex and therefore prohibited under Title VII. See David Baldwin v. Dept. of Transportation, EEOC Appeal No. 020133080 (July 15, 2015). The EEOC’s district, field, area, and local offices will accept and investigate charges from individuals who believe they have been discriminated against because of transgender status (or because of gender identity or gender transition).

Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended

EEOC has given breath to the ADAAA, filing and successfully prosecuting cases involving conditions such as diabetes, cancer, intellectual disabilities, and epilepsy, often difficult to cover as disabilities prior to the Amendments. EEOC v. United, 693 F.3d 760 (7th Cir. 2012) “Best qualified” policies do not trump the ADAAA’s reassignment-as-reasonable-accommodation obligation. EEOC v. UPS, 2014 WL 538577 100% return-to-work policy could be job qualification under the ADAAA. EEOC v. Creative Networks, 912 F. Supp. 2d 828 (D. Ariz. 2012): Rigid policy of refusing to provide an ASL interpreter at orientation/training for deaf and hearing-impaired employees is a violation.

Interplay of Pregnancy Discrimination Act and ADAAA

Title I of the ADAAA protects individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of disability and requires that an employer provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee or applicant with a disability. Pregnant workers and job applicants are not excluded from the protections of the ADAAA. Changes to the definition of the term “disability” in 2008 make it much easier for pregnant workers with pregnancy-related impairments to demonstrate that they have disabilities for which they may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the ADAAA. Reasonable accommodations available to pregnant workers with impairments that constitute disabilities might include allowing a pregnant worker to take more frequent breaks, to keep a water bottle at a work station, or to use a stool; altering how job functions are performed; or providing a temporary assignment to a light duty position.