Big changes are happening in the realm of workplace compliance issues and labor laws in the United States. Noncompliance with government regulations can have serious consequences—and can cost your business big time. Keep up with what's happening between the government and the workplace with the HR Compliance Tracker: your go-to place to stay updated on some major workforce compliance issues.
EEOC Sues Stanley Black & Decker for Violating ADA
If companies with rigid attendance policies aren’t careful, they could run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Stanley Black & Decker Inc., a global diversified industrial company, when they fired an employee with cancer who took leave for medical treatments. According to the suit, the company terminated the sales representative for poor attendance in December 2016 despite her good performance. Although her absences were related to cancer treatments and testing, Stanley Black & Decker’s attendance policy doesn’t provide exceptions for people who need leave as an accommodation to their disability. The employee was fired without a final written warning.
Following the thread of blunders, the EEOC filed suit against the company for the alleged violation of the ADA. The EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “This case should remind all employers that they have an obligation to make exceptions to ‘no fault’ attendance policies as a form of reasonable accommodation unless doing so would be an undue hardship.”
The EEOC’s vigilance of inflexible leave policies should encourage employers to review their company attendance policies in compliance with the disability laws.
EEOC publishes report on addressing and preventing workplace harassment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment report this month. The EEOC chose a Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace to create a report for employers with proactive measures to address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The task force developed five core principles believed to have “generally proven effective in preventing and addressing harassment.” The EEOC intends for these promising practices to be best practices or guiding principles rather than official legal requirements, though all employers are strongly encouraged to put these principles into practice in their workplaces to help them in compliance efforts.
The five core principles in the report include:
- Committed and engaged leadership
- Consistent and demonstrated accountability
- Strong and comprehensive harassment policies
- Trusted and accessible complaint procedures
- Regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization
Based on these principles, the EEOC report includes further insight and checklists to help combat workplace harassment. Employers and HR professionals should be sure to set and enforce policies around office misconduct, especially sexual harassment, and remind employees often about these policies and practices.
Pennsylvania senators propose bill to ban NDAs for sexual misconduct
Pennsylvania Senator Judy Schwank led a group of Democratic Senators in introducing a bill that would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in allegations of sexual misconduct. Schwank believes NDAs put more power in the hands of the perpetrators and not the victims of sexual harassment and abuse. Her proposed legislation, Senate Bill 999, aims to shift power to victims to speak out about any misconduct they’re facing.
“The secrecy [perpetrators] are given allows their misconduct to grow and spread to harm others... The law should not be an escape hatch from civil and criminal liability,” Schwank said. Schwank also stated the legislation will prohibit any contracts, settlements, or any other barriers from disallowing disclosure of a perpetrator’s identity.
NDAs in recent high-profile cases like that of Harvey Weinstein have caused controversy and brought this bill to the forefront of discussion. Schwank and her fellow Democratic state lawmakers believe the bill will empower victims report abuse, especially in the case of workplace harassment and misconduct, without fear of legal ramifications.