Posts Tagged ‘EEOC’

New data mandate will feed pay-gap myths

Cato’s Daily Podcast features Thaya Brook Knight discussing the proposal outlined in this space the other day:

President Obama wants to compel many companies to begin reporting salary information to the federal government. Thaya Brook Knight comments.

Correction: The proposal would not require companies to provide the information as part of their own tax filings, but would require them to use the information from employees’ Forms W-2 to compile the required disclosure, which would be made to the EEOC.

Earlier on the pay-gap mythos here (Hanna Rosin, Slate: “You Know That ‘Women Make 77 Cents to Every Man’s Dollar’ Line? It’s Not True.”) as well as past links to articles such as this, this, and this.

EEOC pay reporting: the better to sue you with, my dear

“Under a new rule proposed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, all companies with more than 100 employees would be required to submit summary pay data each year. Since 1966, large companies have reported to the EEOC the number of their employees by sex, race, ethnicity and job group. The new proposal would add to that list pay data in 12 salary ranges, [with individual salaries] grouped together to protect privacy.” [USA Today, EEOC press release] “The data will be used to identify employers that may be engaging in pay discrimination so that the agency can target its enforcement resources where problems may be likeliest to exist. The proposal would cover more than 63 million U.S. workers, according to the White House. The plan… won’t require legislative approval.” [WSJ]

Aside from driving a high volume of litigation by the EEOC itself, the scheme will also greatly benefit private lawyers who sue employers, including class action lawyers. An employer might then weather the resulting litigation siege by showing that its numbers were good enough, or not. Would today’s Labor Department and EEOC policies look much different if the Obama administration frankly acknowledged that it was devising them with an eye toward maximum liability and payouts?

Supreme Court and constitutional law roundup

EEOC’s use of “administrative subpoenas”

No warrant needed: “administrative subpoenas” or “civil enforcement demands” allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal agencies to demand “everything from Social Security numbers to medical records without a judge’s prior approval, so long as the information is “relevant” to the agency’s work.” Courts have allowed the maneuver although it bypasses the protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. [Kathryn Watson, Daily Caller]

Labor and employment roundup

  • Now watch out for the next phase of the “ban the box” effort, which will demand that private employers not be allowed to ask about applicants’ criminal records [Open Society via @georgesoros]
  • “We have one restaurant in Seattle, and we probably won’t be expanding there. That’s true of San Francisco and Los Angeles, too.” [Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith via David Boaz]
  • New York Times reporting vs. nail salons: the video [Reason, earlier] The other Greenhouse effect, in this case Steven: Times “sees the labor beat as having essentially an advocacy mission.” [Adam Ozimek]
  • The lawsuits of September: “the EEOC has once again rushed to file a blitz of federal court complaints just under the fiscal year wire” [Matthew Gagnon, Christopher DeGroff, and Gerald Maatman, Jr., Seyfarth Shaw]
  • I was a guest on Ray Dunaway’s morning drive time show on WTIC (Hartford) talking about cop fitness tests and the blind barber suit, you can listen here:
  • NYC Commission on Human Rights — with an assist from Demos and New Economy Project — runs public ads saying “There’s no evidence that shows a link between credit reports and job performance. That’s why NYC made it illegal to use credit reports in employment decisions.” The “Suburbanist” responds: “We will punish those who depart from our null hypotheses regarding their business. Human rights indeed.”
  • What are the biggest legal questions facing employers? “What is work?” and “Who is an employee?” are a start [Jon Hyman]

EEOC wins $240K for Muslim truckers who refused to haul beer

We’ve reported earlier on the case of EEOC v. Star Trucking, in which two Muslim employees alleged that their employer, a trucking firm, was obliged under federal religious-discrimination law to accommodate their wish not to haul beer. The case had gotten less press attention than the later, similar case of a flight attendant who asserts religious scruples against serving alcoholic beverages to passengers. Now an Illinois federal jury has agreed with the EEOC and awarded the workers $240,000. [EEOC press release (updated to replace earlier paywalled link)]

More: Eugene Volokh noting that Title VII as long enforced requires employers to accommodate employees’ religiously-based requests when the burdens of doing so are small, and that Star Transport — which has since reportedly gone out of business — did not put forth a showing otherwise in this case.

Discrimination law roundup

  • “Requiring Employees to Return 100% Healed Costs Trucking Firm $300K in EEOC Suit” [Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert]
  • Update: Oregon appeals court upholds $400,000 fine judgment against Portland owner who asked transgender club to stop holding meetings at his nightclub [Oregonian, earlier]
  • Fire Department of New York commissioner: yes, we lowered fitness bar so more women could join the force [Matthew Hennessey/City Journal, my take in The Excuse Factory back when]
  • From May: “Oversight of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Examining EEOC’s Enforcement and Litigation Programs” [Senate HELP committee via Workplace Prof]
  • Lengthy HUD battle: 2nd Circuit notes “no finding, at any point, that Westchester actually engaged in housing discrimination” [WSJ editorial, earlier here and here]
  • In 1992 Delaware settled an employment discrimination lawsuit by agreeing to assign prison guards “without regard to the gender of prisoners….A disaster ensued.” [Scott Greenfield on Cris Barrish, Wilmington News-Journal coverage]
  • NYC council speaker pushing “very bad bill to extend special employment protections to caregivers” [N.Y. Daily News editorial]

More about EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores

Cato has now posted the video of its annual Constitution Day conference including the civil rights panel, on which I spoke. My talk on EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, the hijab religious-accommodation case, begins at 40:30, after presentations by William Eskridge of Yale Law School on the Obergefell (same-sex marriage) case, and Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity on disparate impact in fair housing. Roger Pilon of Cato introduces us and moderates.

You can read my article on the Abercrombie case here, part of the newly published 2014-2015 Cato Supreme Court Review. I’m also quoted in the ABA Journal’s coverage of the case. Earlier here.

“BMW settles EEOC criminal background check suit for $1.6 million”

Automaker BMW in Spartanburg, S.C. began conducting criminal background checks on logistics workers and dismissed about 100 existing employees under guidelines that “excluded from employment all persons with convictions in certain categories of crime” not distinguishing misdemeanor from felony or recent from long-ago convictions. About 80 percent of the dismissed employees were black, and the EEOC sued, saying that because the application of the check program had a disparate impact, BMW was obliged to, but had not, properly validated its policy in detail for “business necessity.” A federal judge declined to dismiss the case and BMW has now agreed to pay $1.6 million and offer jobs to 56 discharged employees as well as up to 90 who had applied but not been hired under the policy. [Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance via Jon Hyman] The EEOC in recent years has led a crackdown on employer use of criminal background checks.

Flight attendant: my religion entitles me to avoid serving liquor

New at Politico Europe, my piece on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint by a Muslim flight attendant, covered here last week, who doesn’t want to serve alcohol (“scruples about screwpulls”) and what, if anything, it has in common with the Kim Davis case. (As a direct legal matter, not much.) I reference the EEOC v. Star Transport case:

Here’s the thing: The EEOC has already sided with Muslim employees who wish to avoid handling alcohol….If Charee Stanley or a future counterpart someday wins the right to bob and weave through the passenger cabin, handing out only beverages that meet with her spiritual approval, she’ll have this record of Congressional posturing to thank.

Surprisingly or otherwise, the pressure for federal law to become more indulgent toward private employees’ demands for religious accommodation — thus turning cases like Stanley’s into more likely winners — has come both from liberal lawmakers like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and from conservatives like Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal.

Related: “No one should have to choose between their career and religion,” proclaimed Stanley’s lawyer. Really? No one? Ever? [Andrew Stuttaford, Secular Right] My Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro on why West Coast florist Barronelle Stutzman is far more deserving of martyr status than Kim Davis (my two cents, leading to GoFundMe “campaign not found”). And dear #kimdavis meme-slingers: be advised that Dallas judges are under no legal obligation to do weddings [Taylor Millard, Hot Air]