On February 1, the EEOC announced that, due to the partial lapse in appropriations, the EEO-1 survey will open in early March with the deadline for submission of the report extended until May 31, 2019. The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a federal contract, subcontract or purchase order amounting to $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report. The EEOC asks employers to refer to the EEO-1 website for updates on the new schedule.
The EEOC continues to file lawsuits based on alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act when requests for leave are not granted. On January 31, the Commission sued a pest and landscape service, Massey Services, for alleged disability discrimination and retaliation. The EEOC contends that the employer denied an office manager’s request for medical leave after she was hospitalized, fired her after learning of her medical condition and subsequently failed to rehire her for the position which remained vacant, despite her expression of interest in returning to work. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. The lawsuit was initiated by the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.
The EEOC’s San Francisco District Office sued Carmel Restaurants alleging that a kitchen manager/chef sexually harassed a male cook and a female dishwasher. Both the cook and the dishwasher alleged that they had been subjected to inappropriate physical touching and that they had reported the conduct to the owners or a manager. In a press release regarding the action, an EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney said, “This bullet point from the EEOC’s Select Task Force on Workplace Harassment checklists for employers bears repeating: ‘take reports seriously’. Advising employees to ‘just ignore’ bad behavior and dismissing harassment as mere horseplay are red flags an organization needs to re-examine its workplace culture and anti-harassment policy.” This checklist is a good indicator of what the EEOC expects from employers. The EEOC encourages employers to establish a company “culture” that prohibits harassment by working with top executives to determine the ground rules for how complaints will be handled and how managers and employees will be trained and held accountable for addressing harassment issues.
The EEOC has made it clear that it plans to lead the way in addressing both disability discrimination and sexual harassment issues in the workplace. Employers should take all complaints and EEOC charges seriously and should also take steps now to train managers and supervisors on disability and harassment issues.