Recent EEOC Initiatives
Federal Agencies: The EEOC issued a report on July 27, 2022 detailing compliance with the 2020 law (Elijah E. Cummings Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act), the first law mandating a direct reporting structure, whereby federal agency EEO directors must report directly to the head of the agency. The Cummings law was passed in part to help ensure that day-to-day control be established to maintain effective and compliant EEO programs within the federal government. The report revealed that small agencies achieved the greatest levels of success with a direct-reporting structure, and that mid-sized, large and Cabinet-level agencies reported only moderate success. The EEOC expects that, given the mandate of the Cummings law, and the clear benefits of the direct-report structure, many more agencies will comply with the law.
Tribal Nations: On July 25, 2022, the EEOC announced initiatives that will serve to strengthen the Commission’s partnership with the Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TEROs), which serve as an essential liaison between tribes and the EEOC, and assist the EEOC in carrying out the Commission’s anti-discrimination enforcement efforts. New TEROs Initiatives include formation of a new EEOC-TERO joint committee to promote the common goals of addressing and eliminating employment discrimination within and surrounding tribal communities. The EEOC also established a new programs webpage which can be viewed at this link.
Pay Data Collection: On August 2, 2022, the EEOC hosted a webinar summarizing the findings of a study that examined the pay data collected from employers through the EEO-1 Component-2 data for FY 2017 and 2018. Private employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees must annually submit demographic workforce data, including data by race/ethnicity, by sex and job categories, to the EEOC. The study confirmed that collection of the information is critical to the EEOC’s efforts to prevent and enforce federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination. The 2022 EEO-1 website for data collection is tentatively scheduled to open in April 2023. Updates regarding the 2022 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection, including the opening date, will be posted to www.eeocdata.org/eeo1 as updates become available.
Waterway Gas and Wash: On July 1, 2022, the EEOC announced a settlement with the Waterway Gas and Wash Company, a national provider of car wash services, after filing suit against the company for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The settlement included a $70,000 payment and other relief to an employee who suffered a seizure on the job, had requested accommodation for his epilepsy, was denied accommodation without discussion, and was later fired in retaliation. The ADA requires employers to engage with employees when a reasonable accommodation is requested. The EEOC maintains that, since employees with epilepsy face higher rates of unemployment, the EEOC will remain vigilant in its efforts to protect workers who face discrimination in employment.
Hobby Lobby: The EEOC filed suit against Hobby Lobby, according to a July 1, 2022 press release, a company that employs over 43,000 employees nationwide. The EEOC alleges that Hobby Lobby violated the ADA when it discriminated against a disabled employee when it refused to allow the employee to bring her service dog to work to assist her with PTSD symptoms as a reasonable accommodation. Hobby Lobby stated safety concerns over bringing the dog to work, but permitted customers to bring their pet and service dogs into their stores. The EEOC is seeking backpay, compensatory and punitive damages and reinstatement for the employee. The ADA was enacted to protect individuals with disabilities, including those who are assisted by service animals.
Aspire Nursing Homes: An August 9, 2022 EEOC press release announced the filing of a lawsuit against Aspire Regional Partners, Inc., a group of nursing homes known as “Aspire”, for allegedly violating Title VII on the basis of sex discrimination, which includes sexual orientation discrimination, when it falsely accused an employee of performance problems, then firing him. The EEOC is “committed to enforcing Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex in all forms, including discrimination based on sexual orientation.” The EEOC is seeking permanent injunctive relief preventing Aspire from future violations, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief for the employee.