Wednesday, October 3, 2012

EEOC goes nuts as its fiscal year closes

How do you know that last Friday marked the end of the EEOC’s fiscal year? Because it filed over two dozen lawsuits that week. The filings provide a glimpse into the agencies enforcement priorities:

  • 14 of the cases allege disability discrimination
  • 5 allege race discrimination
  • 3 allege retaliation
  • 3 allege pregnancy discrimination
  • 2 allege sexual harassment
  • 2 allege racial harassment
  • 1 alleges age discrimination

What’s more interesting than the flurry of filings, however, is the fact that only 6 allege systemic discrimination—discrimination against a group of employees based on a common policy or practice. Earlier in September, the EEOC published its draft strategic enforcement plan for the next 5 years. Its number 1 claimed priority is “eliminating systemic barriers in recruitment and hiring.” Yet, only approximately 20 percent of its flurry of filings strike at these systemic barriers.

What does this activity by the EEOC mean for employers?

  • You have to remain vigilant in your efforts to rid your workplaces of all kinds of discrimination. The EEOC is watching, and, where the facts warrant, will litigate on behalf of an aggrieved individual.
  • Disability discrimination is a prime enforcement target. Invest some time and money (i.e., training) to ensure that your managers and supervisors understand their obligations under the ADA to reasonably accommodate disabled employees. Review your policies to ensure that they do not single-out disabled employees or operate to deny them reasonable accommodations.

[Hat tip: Dan Schwartz]