A federal district court recently sanctioned Walmart for “spoliation of evidence” in an employment litigation case. Although Walmart has asked the Court to reconsider its decision or allow it to appeal the decision to the appellate court, there’s an important lesson to be learned regardless of the outcome: Mind Your Rs & Ds. In other words, pay attention to your company’s retention and destruction of, well, everything employment-related, particularly if there is reason to suspect that litigation is a possibility.
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As we noted earlier this year, the EEOC has begun filing legal challenges to relatively common provisions found in form severance agreements, based on the EEOC’s belief that such language unlawfully interferes with employees’ rights to file charges with and provide information to it. Last week, the EEOC’s attack on severance agreements was dealt a blow.
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Last month, in EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan) held for the first time that employers may be required to permit employees to telecommute as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. While the decision is not binding on employers in the Third Circuit (covering Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware), the case is significant for employers within the Sixth Circuit’s jurisdiction and beyond as it clearly signals a willingness to expand the traditional concept of what constitutes an employer’s “workplace” as modern technology continues to evolve.
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Previously we told you that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was suing an Alabama insurance company for allegedly discriminating against African American job applicants because the company’s grooming policy prohibited dreadlocks. Last week, an Alabama federal judge dismissed the intentional race discrimination claim that was brought against Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS).
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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC” or the “Agency”) recently released a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 through 2016. The Agency has requested public comment on the Plan, which describes its strategy for targeted enforcement and the integration of administrative and legal enforcement activities. These efforts that are meant to help the Agency meet its responsibilities in the face of increasing demand and limited resources. Most notably for employers, the EEOC’s Plan outlines the nationwide priorities for its enforcement efforts in private, state and local government, and federal sectors.
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According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, if current incarceration rates continue, 1 in 3 African-American men and 1 in 6 Hispanic men will be incarcerated during their lifetimes. The rate for white men is only 1 in 17. Given this disparity in incarceration rates, the EEOC has long been concerned that employer policies restricting hiring based on prior criminal convictions may unfairly deprive minorities of employment opportunities.

In Enforcement Guidance issued on April 25, 2012, the EEOC outlined its approach for determining whether an employer’s criminal history screening policies violate Title VII on the grounds of either “disparate treatment” or “disparate impact.”
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There has been a lot of backlash against the practice of employers asking potential employees for their Facebook password. So much so that U.S. senators are calling on the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation to determine whether this practice is lawful. Facebook is also weighing in and threatening legal action against employers who engage in this practice.

In this blog post I provide a brief video update on the Facebook story and describe best practice alternatives to relying on social media in employee hiring.
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Does your company’s leave policy call for an employee’s termination following the expiration of his or her leave entitlement?  Does your company charge “attendance points” against employees regardless of the reason for the absence?  Does your company require employees to be released to work without restrictions before they are permitted to return from a medical