EEOC Focuses on Leaves, DOJ Argues Against Transgender Protections & NLRB Rules on Arbitration Agreements
A recent pattern of lawsuits reveals that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is prioritizing cases involving alleged discrimination against employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leaves of absence. In August, the EEOC announced that a nonprofit blood collection company will pay $175,000 to settle a discrimination suit that alleged the company inappropriately denied an employee’s request for an extension of a leave of absence. Days later, the Commission sued a payroll servicing company that allegedly violated federal law by firing an employee because she needed crutches after surgery. These cases demonstrate that the EEOC is focusing on accommodation issues that employers need to proactively address.
Also in August, the Department of Justice (DOJ)—representing the EEOC—filed its brief in the Supreme Court in the pending case centered on whether restrictions on sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act extend to gender identity and sexual orientation. The DOJ maintained its prior articulated position that Title VII does not cover discrimination on the basis of transgender status. Note that the EEOC takes an opposite approach to this issue.
Finally, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a significant decision in the case against Cordúa Restaurants. The NLRB determined that employers are free to insist that applicants for employment and existing employees sign individual arbitration agreements waiving their right to participate or to opt-in to class-based wage and hour cases or any other employment disputes. This follows the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, wherein the Court ruled that under the Federal Arbitration Act, employers are free to insist and require that employees sign such arbitration agreements without violating the NLRA.
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