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EEOC Focused on Reducing, Deterring Workplace Discriminatory Practices under SEP

EEOC Focused on Reducing, Deterring Workplace Discriminatory Practices under SEPSet Priorities Establish EEOC’s Targets in Employment Practices Violations

Last December, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) established and approved its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for fiscal years 2013-2016, designed to set priorities and integrate all components of the agency’s private, public, and federal sector enforcement. According to the EEOC, SEP’s purpose is to focus and coordinate the agency’s programs to have a sustainable impact in reducing and deterring discriminatory practices in the workplace.

The priorities established by SEP are as follows:

  1. Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring. The EEOC will target class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities.
  2. Protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers. The EEOC will target disparate pay, job segregation, harassment, trafficking and discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under the equal employment laws, or reluctant or unable to exercise them.
  3. Addressing emerging and developing issues. The EEOC will target emerging issues in equal employment law, including issues associated with significant events, demographic changes, developing theories, new legislation, judicial decisions and administrative interpretations.
  4. Enforcing equal pay laws. The EEOC will target compensation systems and practices that discriminate based on gender.
  5. Preserving access to the legal system. The EEOC will target policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts.
  6. Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach. The EEOC will pursue systemic investigations and litigation and conduct a targeted outreach campaign to deter harassment in the workplace.

Last month, the EEOC in sync with one of its priorities – “addressing emerging and developing issues” – issued a class-action suit against a nursing and rehabilitation center in New York for violating federal law by asking for genetic information during the hiring process. According to the EEOC’s suit, the facility conducted post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants, which were repeated annually if the person was hired. As part of this exam, the company requested family medical history, a form of prohibited genetic information. Such alleged conduct violates the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which was passed by Congress in 2008. GINA prevents employers from demanding genetic information, including family medical history, and using that information in the hiring process.

There were also additional charges made in the case involving alleged violations under the American Disability Act (ADA) in the company’s employment practices.

Employment practices liability is a significant issue for all businesses across all industries, with the EEOC undertaking a vigorous proactive approach to clamp down on companies accused of violating the law. This more than ever makes Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) an important and integral component of any comprehensive insurance program. Additionally, not all policies are the same, which is why it’s essential to work with a partner who has access to various markets and can explain what is and isn’t covered. That partner is Axis Insurance Services, LLC. Give us a call at (877) 787-5258 to discuss your specific needs.

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Blogged on: June 12, 2013 by Mike Smith
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