Beginning on January 1, 2018 there are a number of new employment laws going into effect in California that employers should be aware of. Read below for details regarding five of these new laws. Continue reading
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently published updated enforcement guidance on retaliation. This is the first time that the guidance has been updated since 1998. The 70 page guidance provides court interpretation and examples to help determine what constitutes illegal retaliation.
Each of the EEO laws prohibits retaliation and related conduct: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
Retaliation charges are the most popular of all charges received by the EEOC. In fiscal year 2015, the EEOC reports that 44.5% of all charges received alleged retaliation.
It’s probably impossible for your company to eliminate any chance of harassment, but there are precautions you can take to help win a lawsuit filed by an employee:
- Above all, have a sound company policy against harassment, which includes discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or any other class protected by federal, state, or local law.
- Make sure your employees are aware of the policy. Spread the word through orientation sessions and your employee handbook.
- Require staff members to sign an agreement indicating that they understand the policy.
- At least once a year, train your employees and managers on the subject of harassment and its consequences. Employees must be told how to report incidents and feel they can without retaliation.
In order to prevent illegal retaliation from occurring in your workplace, you have to understand some basic definitions.
- Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.
- An adverse action is taken to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory or harassing practice or participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include terminating an employee, denying a promotion and giving an unjustified negative performance evaluation.
- For purposes of federal employment laws administered by the EEOC, covered individuals are people who have opposed unlawful practices, participated in proceedings, or requested accommodations related to employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Individuals who have a close association with someone who has engaged in protected activity are also covered. For example, it is illegal to terminate an employee because his spouse (who is also an employee) participated in employment discrimination litigation.
- Note: In addition to the employment laws administered by the EEOC, retaliation can occur against individuals who may be protected by other federal, state, or local laws. This includes the federal Family Medical Leave Act and whistleblower laws that bring attention to ethical, financial, or other concerns.
- Protected activity includes opposing a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination. For example, an employee complaining about treatment he or she believes is discriminatory — directed at the employee or a co-worker. Protected activity also includes participating in an employment discrimination proceeding or requesting a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability.
Employee complaints that allege mistreatment at work have to be taken seriously. Even if you doubt the legitimacy of a complaint, you’ll put your company in peril if you fail to delve into what really happened. However, a poorly executed investigation could do more harm than good and potentially sink you in legal hot water.
Under federal law, you’re required to investigate any complaints involving harassment, discrimination, retaliation or safety issues. But even when a complaint seems small enough that employees should be able to work it out themselves – such as loud music blaring from a cubicle – don’t ignore it. The matter may not rise to the level of bringing in upper management, but employees need to know you take their concerns seriously. Continue reading
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. These laws protect employees and job applicants against employment discrimination when it involves:
- Unfair treatment because of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
- Harassment by managers, co-workers, or others in the workplace, because of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
- Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation that the employee needs because of religious beliefs or disability.
- Retaliation because the employee complained about job discrimination, or assisted with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
The EEOC reports receiving about 90,000 new complaints each year. To handle these complaints, the EEOC created the Action Council for Transformation to a Digital Charge System (ACT Digital) to develop a set of online applications for use by the public.
Above all, you must have a sound company policy against harassment, which includes discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age or disability.