While most people might not realize it, a fascinating employment law case is currently playing out here in Minnesota that may serve to define the extent to which employers can shift health care cost to their employees based on the results of behavior-based testing.
Governments across the world have long recognized protections for pregnant women against workplace discrimination. To illustrate, the nation of Sweden not only bans discrimination based on pregnancy, but also requires all employers with over 25 people on staff to help workers -- both female and male -- achieve a work-life balance.
In 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against an Illinois-based mining company that, despite numerous highly-qualified applicants, hadn’t hired a single female miner since it opened operations. The company offered an unusual defense. The lawsuit should be thrown out, it said, because the EEOC’s efforts to settle the complaint through its pre-trial conciliation process had been inadequate.
Being fired because of discrimination is always appalling, but for those who’ve loyally served an organization for years only to be wrongfully terminated just as they near retirement, it can mean a major financial setback, as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when older workers are able to find new work at all, they typically end up earning 20 percent less than before.
35 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that discrimination against pregnant women who wanted to continue working was not sex discrimination. Instead, the court said, it was merely discrimination between women who were pregnant and women who were not, which was not illegal.
When people suspect discrimination in the workplace, one of the things they worry most about is what will happen to them if they file a complaint. Both Minnesota and federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit employer retaliation when employees stand up for their rights. Nonetheless, many people fear that their employers will take some revenge anyway, especially if their claims fail.
It doesn’t appear that the shutdown of the federal government that began on Tuesday is likely to end quickly, that that could cause some headaches for workers. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Labor has had to put more than 80 percent of its workforce on furlough, leaving only 2,954 Labor Department employees on the job nationwide. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a division of the Labor Department, and its workforce has been cut even more deeply -- to 5 percent of its usual size. That means a total of 107 people are currently on staff at the EEOC.
When a company that operates a West Virginia mine adopted a new policy requiring its employees to track their time and attendance using a biometric hand scanner, a 35-year veteran at the mine had a serious problem. He is an Evangelical Christian, and he sincerely believes there is a strong connection between the technology and the Antichrist.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against an office furniture and supply company in Worthington after its operations manager allegedly set up the business’s security cameras to focus in on an employee’s breasts and body and streamed hours of that video to his office computer. This created a sexually-hostile work environment what the EEOC called a “particularly egregious” violation of her and all of its employees’ rights.
In 1998, a postal worker at a facility in Washington, D.C. filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He said that the United States Postal Service had refused to reasonably accommodate his disability, which was hearing impairment. After mediating with the EEOC, the USPS promised to provide the man with the American Sign Language interpreter he needed to do his job.