January 2013

The EEOC recently announced two multi-million dollar settlements relating to the targeted employers leave of absence practices. In November, the EEOC announced a $4.5m settlement with Interstate Distributor Company, based on claims that the trucking company did not provide reasonable accommodation to scores of employees who were terminated upon exhausting available leave time. The EEOC claimed that the company’s practice of automatically terminating employees after exhausting a set amount of leave without any interactive discussions with the employee, along with an alleged “no restrictions” policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Similarly, on December 18 (the same day that the EEOC announced its strategic plan), the EEOC announced a $2m settlement with Dillard’s Inc. based on similar allegations. There, Dillard’s was accused not only of having a practice of terminating employees after a specific period of leave but also of having a practice of seeking specific medical information from an employee seeking sick leave. According to the EEOC, these practices violated the ADA.

Continue Reading EEOC Continues Aggressive Look at Employer Leave Policies

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has approved its strategic plan for fiscal years 2013 to 2016 to set the agency’s national enforcement priorities. The Plan identifies the following six national priorities: eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring; protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers; addressing emerging and developing employment discrimination issues; enforcing equal pay laws; preserving access to the legal system; and preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and outreach.

So what does this mean for employers? A few observations:

  • Look for the focus on “emerging and developing” issues to include continued emphasis by the EEOC on employers’ leave of absence policies. See companion blog entry on these developments here; employers would be wise to re-evaluate their leave policies in light of these developments, especially in eliminating any “automatic termination” language upon expiration of available leave;
  • Look for the focus on “equal pay” – which was an added enforcement strategy from the draft plan – to develop into an EEOC enforcement response to the Supreme Court’s decision in decertifying class claims in the Wal-Mart pay and promotion case;
  • Look for the EEOC to continue its strategy of attempting to convert individual charges into larger scale investigations of possible systemic violations.