Employers Beware: The EEOC Will Come Knocking if You Discriminate, Especially Against Individuals with Disabilities
Author: Melissa Burdorf, XpertHR Legal Editor
The EEOC has sent a clear message to employers - it will go after employers that discriminate - with a vengeance. The EEOC's ultimate mission - rid the workplace of all forms of discrimination. In fact, in just the last two weeks, the EEOC has filed over 20 discrimination cases, more than half of them being under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Employers should be on notice - they must take preventative actions to purge discrimination in the workplace.
Employers need to prevent many forms of discrimination in the workplace, which may include:
- National Origin Discrimination;
- Age Discrimination;
- Sexual or Gender Identity Discrimination;
- Race Discrimination;
- Pregnancy Discrimination;
- Religious Discrimination;
- Family Responsibility Discrimination;
- Military Status Discrimination; and
- Leave Discrimination.
This list varies depending on what state(s) an employer is located in.
Because the EEOC has a current focus on disability discrimination, employers should immediately:
- TRAIN all supervisors and managers on the ADA;
- Create an ADA policy that prohibits discrimination and outlines for the process for requesting a reasonable accommodation;
- Make sure all policies/documents are compliant with the ADA - this means throw out any policy that calls for the automatic termination of an employee after the employee has been absent for a certain period of time. An employer's attendance policies (and related policies/documents) must factor in a case-by-case analysis of the employee's situation and the employer's obligation to reasonably accommodate;
- Promptly schedule a meeting with an employee once an employee notifies an employer that he or she is having difficulty performing the job because of a physical or mental impairment that may constitute a disability under the ADA;
- Remember that the duty to accommodate is ongoing - it does not end the moment the employer provides an employee with an accommodation;
- DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT - it is critical that employers keep accurate records of their efforts to comply with the ADA, including every effort to collect pertinent information; and
- Keep all documentation that contains confidential medical information, and discussion of accommodations relating to such information, in separate files apart from the employee's personnel file.
XpertHR has many resources to help employers achieve a discrimination-free workplace while not sacrificing workplace efficiency.