The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) litigation and enforcement efforts saw mixed results in FY 2014, highlighting the evolving nature of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) and the agency's approach to enforcement. Despite several setbacks, the agency's actions offer important insight into the kinds of cases the EEOC is pursuing and the tactics used to enforce them.
A growing number of U.S. employers are opting not to hire applicants who smoke in an effort to create a healthier workplace and reduce costs. These decisions appear justified when considering the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates smokers cost employers approximately $193 billion a year in increased health care costs and lost productivity. The CDC also names smoking as the leading cause of preventable death, illness and disability in the U.S., responsible for 443,000 premature deaths each year. Despite these statistics, privacy-rights advocates, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claim such employment policies not only constitute discrimination, but set a very dangerous precedent.
The Obama Administration recently announced it will undertake efforts to repair diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba and end decades of political estrangement and economic isolation of the island nation. According to the December 17, 2014 statement, this historic shift in U.S. foreign policy will ease export controls and sanctions that have effectively imposed a trade embargo on Cuba since 1961 and increase opportunities for personal and business interactions between the two countries.
Women account for 57.2% of the American workforce and are increasingly working throughout their pregnancies. While most pregnant women require no changes in their jobs, some — particularly those with physically demanding positions — may need temporary adjustments to their duties to continue working safely. Just what employers must provide for pregnant workers, however, is currently at the center of a debate before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The end of 2014 saw significant developments in U.S. anti-corruption efforts, including record fines, challenges to the government's interpretation of the law and the launch of new tools to help companies prevent bribery and corruption.
Facing criticism for its predominately white, male workforce, Intel is the latest tech company to make big moves to increase workplace diversity, announcing it has allotted $300 million to increase the number of women and minorities in its workforce by 2020. Intel's CEO, Brian Krzanich, stated the company's goals include a better representation of the U.S. population by placing women and under-represented minorities in both entry-level positions and senior leadership roles.
According to a memo released by Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will now interpret federal law — specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — to prohibit workplace harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender status.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will rule on the legality of same-sex marriage and issue what is expected to be a historic decision with a widespread impact on American culture. Consolidating appeals from four separate states, the Court narrowed its inquiry to two issues: does the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process forbid states from restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, and can states refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states?
Following the release of Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the international watchdog group urges greater international cooperation to stem corruption and abuses of power that undermine economic development and destroy public trust in government and leaders.
A recent Pew Research study found 40% of adult internet users have experienced online harassment. Given that 66% of online harassment occurs on social networking websites, it is significant that Twitter has decided to take steps to protect its users from harassment with changes aimed at not only making it easier for victims to report harassment, but to block those who participate in such behavior.