New employment discrimination charge statistics made available online by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in May, 2012 provide a helpful risk assessment tool for private sector employers looking to understand and decide where to deploy resources to management their employment discrimination exposures.
In May, the EEOC put private sector workplace discrimination charge statistics for each of the nation’s 50 states and U.S. Territories for fiscal years 2009-2011 online. These data provide a look at EEOC charge receipts, broken down by the basis of discrimination, as well as the percent of total state and national charges. The state data tables are available online at http://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges_by_state.cfm.
The EEOC plans to update the state data each fiscal year.
The availability of these statistics comes at an opportune time. Disability and other discrimination challenges are rising. Since taking office, President Obama has made enforcement of disability and other employment discrimination laws a top priority by both pursing enforcement directly and stepping up public outreach and education efforts to promote awareness and encourage private enforcement. These efforts have been further strengthened by statutory and regulatory amendments to disability discrimination and other discrimination laws. As a result of these developments and a tightening job market, discrimination claims are on the rise.
To help mitigate the expanded employment liability risks , businesses generally should act to manage their exposures. Management should exercise caution to carefully design and implement employment discrimination and related employment policies. They should implement exit interview, hotline and other practices to help detect and resolve potential discrimination exposures early. They also should carefully document legitimate disciplinary and other non-discriminatory justifications for employment related activities and conduct regular training for management and employees.
Businesses also should consider tightening their documentation regarding their procedures and processes governing the collection and handling records and communications that may contain information that could be helpful or hurtful in the event of a discriminatioj charge. Businesses need to ensure that all required records and statistics are collected. In addition, businesses also should consider strengthing record creation and retention efforts to help preserve other evidence that could be invaluable to defending charges and change the way that decisions are made and documented to position their organizations to more effectively demonstrate the defensibility of their employment and other business activities against potential nondiscrimination charges.
As part of this process, businesses also should carefully review their employment records, group health plan, family leave, disability accommodation, and other existing policies and practices to comply with, and manage exposure under the new genetic information nondiscrimination and privacy rules enacted as part of the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) signed into law by President Bush on May 21, 2008. Effective November 21, 2009, Title VII of GINA amends the Civil Rights Act to prohibit employment discrimination based on genetic information and restricts the ability of employers and their health plans to require, collect or retain certain genetic information. Under GINA, employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and joint labor-management committees face significant liability for violating the sweeping nondiscrimination and confidentiality requirements of GINA concerning their use, maintenance and disclosure of genetic information. Employees can sue for damages and other relief like currently available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other nondiscrimination laws. For instance, GINA’s employment related provisions include rules that will:
- Prohibit employers and employment agencies from discriminating based on genetic information in hiring, termination or referral decisions or in other decisions regarding compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment;
- Prohibit employers and employment agencies from limiting, segregating or classifying employees so as to deny employment opportunities to an employee based on genetic information;
- Bar labor organizations from excluding, expelling or otherwise discriminating against individuals based on genetic information;
- Prohibit employers, employment agencies and labor organizations from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information of an employee or an employee’s family member except as allowed by GINA to satisfy certification requirements of family and medical leave laws, to monitor the biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace or other conditions specifically allowed by GINA;
- Prohibit employers, labor organizations and joint labor-management committees from discriminating in any decisions related to admission or employment in training or retraining programs, including apprenticeships based on genetic information;
- Mandate that in the narrow situations where limited cases where genetic information is obtained by a covered entity, it maintain the information on separate forms in separate medical files, treat the information as a confidential medical record, and not disclosure the genetic information except in those situations specifically allowed by GINA;
- Prohibit any person from retaliating against an individual for opposing an act or practice made unlawful by GINA; and
- Regulate the collection, use, access and disclosure of genetic information by employer sponsored and certain other health plans.
These employment provisions of GINA are in addition to amendments to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act, the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and Title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act that are effective for group health plan for plan years beginning after May 20, 2009.
If you have any questions or need help reviewing and updating your organization’s employment and/or employee practices in response to the ADAAA, GINA or other applicable laws, or if we may be of assistance with regard to any other workforce management, employee benefits or compensation matters, please do not hesitate to contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.
About The Author
Management attorney and consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer helps businesses, governments and associations solve problems, develop and implement strategies to manage people, processes, and regulatory exposures to achieve their business and operational objectives and manage legal, operational and other risks. Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, with more than 20 years human resource and employee benefits experience, Ms. Stamer helps businesses manage their people-related risks and the performance of their internal and external workforce though appropriate human resources, employee benefit, worker’s compensation, insurance, outsourcing and risk management strategies domestically and internationally. Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls and other related risk management matters. Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, and the Legislative Chair of the Dallas Human Resources Management Association Government Affairs Committee, she also serves in leadership positions in many human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. For more details about Ms. Stamer’s experience and other credentials, contact Ms. Stamer, information about workshops and other training, selected publications and other human resources related information, see here or contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at 469.767.8872 or via e-mailto firstname.lastname@example.org
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