Charges of discrimination can be enormously expensive, even if a lawsuit never goes to trial. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a racial-harassment and discrimination case against a Fortune 500 transportation company for $11 million. The settlement will benefit as many as 324 African Americans who worked at one of the company’s Chicago-area facilities from 2004 to 2009. The EEOC is pointing to the case as “further indication that the EEOC has the resources and determination necessary to litigate large class actions.” The EEOC also settled a similar case against the company two years ago for $10 million, bringing the total the company has had to pay for alleged racial harassment and discrimination at two of its Chicago-area facilities to $21 million.
While looking at job applicants’ publicly available information on Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts has become a common, though risky, practice, some employers have gone further by requesting the passwords for the social-media accounts of applicants and/or current employees, a controversial practice that Facebook recently condemned. Now, legislators are pushing back. Maryland already has a law, which will go into effect on October 1, 2012, that prohibits employers from requesting or requiring access to employees’ and applicants’ accounts. The federal government and more than a dozen states are considering similar legislation.
Are your employees prepared to answer questions about your company's compliance with federal anti-boycott laws? U.S. lawmakers adopted anti-boycott laws in the 1970s to discourage companies from participating in boycotts not sanctioned by the federal government. Relevant laws include amendments to the Export Administration Act and the 1976 Tax Reform Act.
Jobs ads that tell unemployed people not to apply are drawing attention from lawmakers. On May 31, 2012, Washington, D.C., joined New Jersey and Oregon in banning discrimination in hiring against job applicants on the basis of their unemployment status. Other states and cities are considering similar legislation, and provisions banning employment-status discrimination were introduced, but not passed, in Congress as part of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 and the American Jobs Act of 2011.
Congress is currently considering several amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including those that, if passed, would increase the federal minimum wage, affect whether workers in certain job categories would be exempt from minimum-wage and overtime requirements and increase protections for workers who report certain FLSA violations.
After the 2010 BP oil spill, several women who applied for employment with BP’s contractors to work on the cleanup filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that they were not considered for the jobs because of their gender. BP and the EEOC recently settled the case. BP denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay $5.4 million to a class of female applicants in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
As we mentioned recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its third report within a year on employers’ social-media policies. In the report, the NLRB’s General Counsel argued that six out of the seven policies examined were overbroad and, therefore, unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). One of the policies the report singled out was that of General Motors (identified in the report only as “a motor vehicle manufacturer”), which the report said contained several unlawful provisions. However, the NLRB’s report is not binding law, and a decision by an administrative law judge from the NLRB’s Division of Judges on GM’s policy disagreed with the General Counsel on most of the provisions in GM’s policy, finding all but one to be lawful.
Traditionally, pharmaceutical sales reps were not paid overtime when they worked more than 40 hours per week. A lawsuit that went up to the U.S. Supreme Court challenged that practice, claiming that the drug company GlaxoSmithKline was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not paying overtime to its sales reps. The Supreme Court, however, disagreed, ruling in a 5-4 decision on June 12 that pharmaceutical sales reps are employed as outside sales people, a job category that is exempt from overtime-pay requirements under a Department of Labor (DOL) regulation.
Employers are increasingly recognizing the contributions that people with disabilities can make to their organizations, and many businesses are looking for ways to increase the participation of people with disabilities within their companies. A new public-private initiative is designed to help businesses achieve that goal. At a recent “CEO Summit” on the employment of people with disabilities, top-level business executives got together with government officials to share experiences and best practices for reducing barriers to employment and to raise awareness about the benefits of increasing workforce participation.
While looking at job applicants’ publicly available information on Facebook, Twitter and other social-media accounts has become commonplace, some employers have gone further by requesting applicants' and employees' passwords for their social-media accounts, a controversial practice that Facebook recently condemned.