Even if they’re operating heavy machinery, and even if the drugs are of the type that make users drowsy, twitchy or agitated. It’s all part of the ban on employee medical inquiries under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Eighth Circuit has backed up the agency’s position that questions do not become permissible until the employer has in hand objective evidence of impairment, the sort you can take to a judge. Evidence like, you know, there having been a serious accident. I explain at Cato at Liberty.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is said to be readying policy guidance aimed at curbing employers’ consideration of criminal and credit records in hiring. [WSJ editorial]
Requiring a high school diploma of applicants for a given job may improperly screen out those with learning disability, according to the federal agency. I’ve got more at Cato at Liberty. Update: more from EEOC; Hans Bader, CEI.
The EEOC’s press release is not entirely clear about the events giving rise to the dispute, but it appears that Georgia Power through its subcontractor requires that heavy equipment operators on a certain project be qualified to pass the federal Department of Transportation’s physical exam for truckers; that applicant Bryan Mimmovich cannot pass that exam because of his controlled epilepsy; and that the EEOC is now arguing that it is discriminatory for the employer to adopt the DOT physical requirements for the equipment operation job.
The EEOC says Comfort Suites dismissed the clerk when it should instead have accepted the services of a state-paid “job coach” who might have “helped the clerk learn to master his job by using autism-specific training techniques.” [EEOC press release, Fox San Diego]
Argued yesterday before the Supreme Court, the case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC pits the quasi-religion of employment discrimination law against organized religion of every other sort. Guess which side the Obama administration comes down on? I explain in a new op-ed at The Daily Caller. More background: Christopher Lund (Wayne State), “In Defense of the Ministerial Exception”, North Carolina Law Review/SSRN. And per Rick Garnett at NRO “Bench Memos,” the Court’s justices in their questioning yesterday did not appear friendly toward the idea of overthrowing the exception (& followup). According to the L.A. Times and other reporting, Justice Kagan described the Justice Department’s position as “amazing.” More: Marcia McCormick, Workplace Prof (linking to transcript of oral argument, PDF)(& welcome Damon Root/Reason “Hit and Run” readers).
My new Cato post points out that while this may be craziness, it’s craziness with a long pedigree:
It was way back in the first Bush administration that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began filing lawsuits against employers for “discriminating” against employees with difficult-to-understand or heavily accented speech, the theory being that this served as an improper proxy for discrimination based on national origin. The scope for allowable exceptions was exceedingly narrow, too narrow to cover most teaching positions, as I wrote quite a while back when the issue had just come over the horizon in a Massachusetts case. Indeed, the National Education Association (I pointed out) had been prevailed on to pass a resolution “decrying disparate treatment on the basis of ‘pronunciation’ — quite a switch from the old days when teachers used to be demons for correctness on that topic.”
Read the whole thing here (& Alkon, Peter Pappas/Tax Lawyer’s Blog, Bader). Another view: Josh Hanson.
One of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s current big projects — making it legally hazardous for employers to check job applicants’ criminal records — could actually backfire, according to research cited by some members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights [Caroline May, Daily Caller]:
Civil Rights Commissioners Peter Kirsanow, Gail Heriot and Todd Gaziano pointed to research from economists Harry Holzer and Stephen Rafael and public policy professor Michael Stoll, published in the Journal of Law and Economics, which showed that employers with access to background checks are actually more likely to hire African Americans, especially African American men, than those without access to that informaion.
“Their results suggest that, in the absence of criminal background checks, some employers discriminate statistically against black men and/or those with weak employment records,” the commissioners pointed out in their letter to the EEOC.
Taco Bell finds itself at odds with the EEOC. [Jon Hyman]
Under the banner of combating discrimination against the disabled, Congress and the EEOC may together have quietly instituted a fairly momentous extension of the regime of federally mandated workplace benefits — in particular, imposing on even very small employers a new obligation to hold the jobs of employees taking some kinds of leave. [Hyman]