Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. According to the record, Complainant reported an incident of sexual harassment to officials at the school where she worked, and the Commission agreed with the AJ that Complainant had a reasonable, good-faith belief that the incidents she observed violated the Agency’s anti-harassment policy. Agency Violated Rehabilitation Act When It Disclosed Confidential Medical Information. 2019001697 (Mar. Postal Serv., Appeal No, 0120171165 (Oct. 12, 2018), Katharine B. v. U.S. 2019004448 (Sept. 11, 2019). EEOC Settles NC Race Discrimination Case By Richard L. Rainey, Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson Nov 25, 2020 Diversity & Inclusion , HR Management & Compliance In contrast with other litigation, a case filed against an employer by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC… Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. The OWBPA provides that an individual may not waive an age discrimination claim under the ADEA unless the waiver is knowing and voluntary, and lists seven criteria that a waiver must meet. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. As a result, the Commission found that Complainant established that she was subjected to a retaliatory hostile work environment. Five were based on religion and four on national origin. Specifically, Complainant’s supervisor attested that he told Complainant that her complaining about EEO issues was causing him a lot of extra work and stress, and that he did not feel her complaints constituted real EEO complaints. According to the record, Complainant received a Notice of Right to File on July 17, 2018. For the past twenty-five years, the EEOC has seen a spike in case filings in August and September, at the end of its fiscal year. She suffered nerve damage, exacerbated back pain, and problems with her legs. Britany N. v. U.S. A preponderance of evidence showed that management talked about Complainant’s medically related work restrictions on speaker because the office phones were not working properly. Safety Bd., EEOC Appeal No. Seyfarth Synopsis: In the last fiscal year before the November 2020 election, the EEOC made significant changes to many of its programs, all in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Further evidence demonstrated that the Security Specialist perceived Complainant’s medical condition to be a risk, in the absence of evidence to support that conclusion. The Agency was ordered, among other things, to investigate Complainant’s entitlement to compensatory damages, and to provide training to management officials at the facility emphasizing the Agency’s obligations regarding reasonable accommodation. The Commission held these were not identical complaints);  Nerissa S. v.  Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. Adrian W. v. Dep’t of the Navy, EEOC Appeal No. 0120172032 (Mar. Instead, the Complainant stated that she was not promoted “on several occasions.”  The record did not contain the EEO intake form completed by Complainant which was mentioned in the EEO Counselor’s report. Based on the specific circumstances of this case, the Commission found the most appropriate sanction to address the Agency’s conduct was to order the Agency to post a notice at its Office of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. regarding its failure to comply with the Commission’s regulatory timeframes and orders; and provide training to its EEO personnel who failed to comply with our regulatory timeframes. Specifically, whenever the responsible management officials received affidavits to respond to with respect to Complainant’s EEO complaints, they would display displeasure toward Complainant, and say things like “this EEO business” needs to be dropped. Lazaro G. v. Dept. While race claims are often the … The Agency determined that the complaint concerned Complainant’s request to be reinstated and the Commission affirmed the Agency’s dismissal of the complaint on grounds that Complainant previously raised the issues in a prior complaint. Postal Serv, EEOC Appeal No. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Complainant took multiple medications however it was unclear which of those related to her repetitive motion disorder. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s award of $1,313.48 in past pecuniary damages for expenses incurred in processing his complaint. Prot. On appeal, Complainant also contended that since the Manager’s arrival he has been the subject of teasing; jokes; bullying and intimidating behavior from him. Breach of Settlement Found. Sec. Therefore, Complainant was not entitled to payment for these hours. 26, 2019). The Agency did not dispute Complainant’s contention that the EEO Counselor misled her into withdrawing her informal complaint. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Commission Increased Award of Compensatory Damages to $5,000. denied, No. Further, the Agency cannot use a grievance determination regarding whether schedules should be negotiated to dismiss Complainant’s allegation that she is not provided with rest breaks as a reasonable accommodation or to avoid providing her with an effective accommodation. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. The Agency was ordered, among other things, to investigate Complainant’s claim for damages, and provide appropriate training to the named management officials and the coworker. Sherill S. v. Dep’t of the Air Force, EEOC Petition No. Tanuya P. v. U.S. Sec. The FY 2019 data show that retaliation continued to be the most frequently filed charge, followed by disability, race, and sex. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. As an initial matter, the Commission found that the Agency has sufficient control over the Complainant’s employment to be her joint employer. Additionally, while the Agency referenced documents purportedly showing that Complainant received EEO training and stated that Complainant’s workplace displayed EEO posters detailing the complaint process and its deadlines, the record contained no evidence supporting the Agency’s assertions. 0120172618 (Mar. Complainant made no showing of coercion when he withdrew the prior complaints and was not entitled to reinstatement of the claims). However, the Agency did not meet its burden to show that Complainant failed to exercise reasonable diligence to mitigate those damages. Additionally, the Agency denied Complainant the requested reasonable accommodation of telework or administrative leave until it provided her with a workplace that guaranteed no contact with the perpetrator. The Commission also ordered the Agency to determine whether Complainant would have received payment for accrued sick leave, restoration of her sick leave balance, or credit for annuity purposes, and take appropriate action. 0120181516, (Sep. 11, 2019). Thomasina B. v. Dep’t of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. Corp., EEOC Appeal No. Statements in the record indicate that the investigation had been completed by April 21, 2017 and management had drafted a disciplinary action. The Commission disagreed with the AJ’s finding that there was no evidence of harassment. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. 0720180004 (Nov. 15, 2018), Sharon M. v. Dep’t of Transp., EEOC Appeal No. 16, 2019), Alycia R. v. Dep’t of Hous. In regard to the second claim, the record showed Complainant was not involuntarily reassigned. In a prior decision, the Commission found that the Agency discriminated against Complainant based on her disability when it asked her to remove a religious item from her desk. 2019001914 (May 2, 2019) (the record established that the Agency provided Complainant with the proper Agency address and limitation period for filing his complaint. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s finding that Complainant failed to prove his hostile work environment claim and allegations of disparate treatment. The Commission also found sufficient evidence to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Complainant was treated differently after he complained about the supervisor’s conduct. On December 16, 2020, with one vaccine approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA and the first inoculations beginning across the country, the EEOC updated its Technical Assistance Questions and Answers in What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws to address COVID-19 vaccinations and to make clear that employers may elect … Porter P. v. U.S. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. In dismissing the complaint, the Agency stated the subject claims constituted a generalized grievance and were insufficiently vague to state an actionable harassment claim. The Commission found that the joint right of control in the hiring process pointed to joint employment. Title VII charges were followed by disability- and age-related complaints. Complainant provided his own sworn statement as well as declarations from his husband, his sister, and four friends, but did not provide medical or documentary evidence. 2019001833 (Apr. This change was made to address privacy concerns and to ensure consistency with the Commission's approach in the rest of its enforcement work and the investigations of complaints. The Agency was ordered, among other things, to ensure that the Complainant was removed from the Store Manager’s supervisory/managerial authority, and investigate and determine Complainant’s entitlement to compensatory damages. Retaliatory Harassment Found. 0120170164 (Sept. 25, 2019), Ashely H. v. Nat’l Transp. Therefore, her contact with the EEO Counselor on March 30, 2018, was timely. 0120172081 (Dec. 14, 2018). Accordingly, the Commission found that the Agency’s explanation for the imposed discipline was a pretext for discriminatory animus based on Complainant’s color. Complainant had previously sought treatment for work-related stress and was diagnosed with adjustment disorder, recurrent major depression, panic attacks, and PTSD. Moreover, the Commission has consistently held that use of internal agency procedures, union grievances, and other remedial processes does not toll the time limit for contacting an EEO Counselor. 10, 2019), Kyoko H. v. Dep’t of Veteran Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. 2019002318 (Apr. But it would be on a case-by-case basis," said Sharon Masling, a workplace attorney at Morgan Lewis in Washington, D.C., and former chief of staff to an EEOC commissioner. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s finding that Complainant was entitled to $1,000 in compensatory damages related to one incident of reprisal. As remedial relief, the Commission ordered, among other things, reinstatement of Agency’s tentative offer of employment to MVO position with an individualized assessment, and retroactive placement into the position depending on the assessment results. Complainant alleged he developed Type II diabetes following the discrimination and submitted articles attempting to show that, because he had no family history of diabetes and was not overweight, the diabetes was caused by the stress from the discrimination. This too is fairly typical. 2019000479 (Feb. 12, 2019), Roman G. v. U.S. When the EEOC’s last fiscal year before the November election began in October 2019, many expected that the agency would be busy completing many of its objectives to further the strategic priorities set by the new Chair of the Commission, Janet Dhillon. 0120181502 (Sept. 17, 2019), Coralee H. v. U.S. Terrie M. v. Dep’t of Def., EEOC Appeal No. The incident occurred when management officials discussed complainant’s EEO complaint during a 90-day performance evaluation. 2019002626 (July 23, 2019). The Agency contended that Complainant failed to show his condition was aggravated by the lack of an ergonomic chair and that he was not “particularly specific” regarding the nature and severity of his harm. Commission Found Sufficient Evidence that Agency Qualified as Joint Employer. Given that Complainant was permitted to utilize a flexible AWS and move her lunch break to minimize her leave usage in 2012, the Commission found the Agency had not established that maintaining Complainant’s accommodation constituted an undue hardship. The Commission noted that while Complainant later exhibited inappropriate conduct when he used profanity and walked out of a meeting, the evidence of record did not support a finding that this conduct would have resulted in a removal action had it not been for the conflict over Complainant’s requests for religious accommodation and the imposition of the first removal. 0120170811 (June 11, 2019). Indianapolis’s filings shot up from 8 filings last year, and New York matched its 12 filings from FY 2019. Patricia W. v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., EEOC Appeal No. Complainant provided statements from two coworkers in support of his claim. The Commission affirmed the AJ’s finding that Appellant, who was not a member of the underlying class, did not have standing to challenge the settlement of the class complaint. The Commission concluded that the Agency made an appropriate across-the-board reduction to the remaining fees requested. Complainant’s testimony and his wife’s statement showed that he suffered emotional harm when he was reassigned to a less desirable area for approximately two years. 2019000438 (Feb. 8, 2019). The Commission agreed with the AJ that Complainant did not allege a timely denial of promotion and indicated only that a coworker was promoted to a position for which Complainant did not apply. Cassandra L. v. Dep’t of Def., EEOC Appeal No. 19, 2019). Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Given the nature, severity and duration of Complainant’s harm, the Commission found that an award of $20,000 was more appropriate. Worth noting: Unlike private litigants, the EEOC isn’t bound by federal rules governing class certification, adding greater risk and uncertainty to the prospect of having to defend a class-based EEOC … 0120180973 (Apr. 0120173051 (Oct. 30, 2018), Chi E. v. U.S. The Commission agreed with the Agency that Complainant was only entitled to damages associated with the denial of reasonable accommodation. Pamula W. v. Dep’t of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. The Agency subsequently awarded Complainant $10,000 in nonpecuniary compensatory damages, and the Commission affirmed the award on appeal. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Complainant challenged the Agency’s assertion that he was not officially appointed to the position of Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary. The Agency failed to fully read the document submitted by Complainant, which alleged timely events and that she had been subjected to a hostile work environment. Specifically, while Complainant’s resume was qualifying, the Selectee had experience that was critical to the position, including managing an international dependent program and serving as an International Military Student Officer, which Complainant lacked. Agency Denied Complainant Accommodation, Subjected Him to Harassment & Terminated Him Because of His Disability. The record contained corroborating affidavits from Complainant’s co-worker supporting Complainant’s claim that he was harassed because he did not fit the supervisor’s image of a “masculine” male. Return to top. Complainant alleged that a coworker sexually harassed her when he made sexual comments to her and showed her pornographic pictures on his government-owned computer. 0120170100 (Nov. 6, 2018). The Agency defined Complainant's claim as concerning the single incident provided as an example and dismissed the matter for failure to state a claim. Therefore, the Commission found that Complainant provided sufficient justification to excuse the brief delay in filing her complaint. Agency’s Imposition of Discipline was a Pretext for Unlawful Discrimination. The Agency dismissed the claim for untimely counseling and because it stated the same claim as the one Complainant previously abandoned. 2019002305 (May 7, 2019), Fidel S. v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., EEOC Appeal No. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s dismissal. 0720180029 (Aug. 20, 2019). The Commission found that the Agency’s articulated reasons were not worthy of credence, and that a retaliatory reason more likely motivated the Agency’s actions. The Commission found that the unsatisfactory rating was clearly motivated by Complainant’s telework agreement which was given to her as an accommodation. Commission Modified Award of Attorney’s Fees. The Commission held this stated a viable claim of disability discrimination, noting that the Agency had a duty to provide ongoing reasonable accommodation irrespective of the grievance process. Commission Sanctioned Agency for Failure to Timely Issue a Final Decision. In a prior decision, the Commission found that the Agency violated the Rehabilitation Act when it delayed providing Complainant with reasonable accommodation, but also concluded that Complainant failed to prove her claim of harassment. 3, 2019), Porter P. v. U.S. 21, 2019), Rochelle F. v. U.S. 5, 2019), Margeret M. v. Dep’t of Veteran Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. 2019002991 (July 2, 2019), Clinton M. v. Soc. 2019003555 (Aug. 15, 2019) (Complainant alleged ongoing discrimination when he was promised a specific salary but was then told he would have to accept a decrease in pay. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No.0120181924 (Sep. 4, 2019) (the time period for contacting an EEO Counselor did not begin to run until the effective date of Complainant’s removal 31 days after the issuance of the Notice of Removal. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s dismissal of claims concerning her position description and training for failure to timely contact an EEO Counselor. When all of the incidents were viewed in the context of Complainant’s hostile environment allegation, they stated a viable claim of harassment);  Rosendo F. v. U.S. Sec. Complainant further asserted that specific details which he provided in his formal complaint were excluded from the Agency’s analysis, and that the Agency chose to mischaracterize the issues prior to dismissing them. 0120172284 (Mar. LEXIS 215486 (D. Ariz. Nov. 18, 2020… 0120180949 (June 13, 2019), Irina T. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. The Agency was ordered, among other things, to place Complainant into the position, and pay him appropriate back pay and benefits. Trey M. v U.S. Complainant also failed to show up for work that day, so the Agency mailed a Leave Without Pay letter to Complainant the following day. 0120142701 (Feb. 6, 2019). 0120170934 (Apr. The EEOC’s current general counsel, Sharon Gustafson, is a Trump-appointed attorney who represented the plaintiff in a landmark pregnancy discrimination case; her term runs until 2023. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Accordingly, the Commission affirmed the AJ’s decision dismissing Complainant's class and individual complaint. The Agency was ordered, among other things, to remove the disciplinary notices from Complainant’s official personnel file, and determine the appropriate amount of back pay, interest, and other benefits to which she was entitled. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Law360 (December 21, 2020, 10:12 PM EST) -- A Maryland federal judge on Monday approved a deal between a medical cannabis dispensary and the U.S. 0120180570, 0120181692, & 2019002121 (Sept. 4, 2019), Leora R. v. Dep’t of Health & Human Serv., EEOC Appeal No. The Agency assumed Complainant would be unable to see traffic signals while driving, but failed to conduct inquiry into how, based on his vision, Complainant obtained and continued to hold his commercial driver’s license and performed successfully in his mass transit Bus Operator position. 0120172277 (Feb. 15, 2019) (Complainant filed a formal complaint alleging, among other things, that the Agency discriminated against her based on her disability (deafness) when her supervisor denied Complainant’s request for an interpreter at a safety talk. Finally, the Agency properly deducted 5.7 hours of research as duplicative and redundant because Complainant’s attorney used no new case law, and only researched case law used in a previous document. 0120171676 (Nov. 29, 2018). 0120172368 (Dec. 20, 2018), Phillis W. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. 2019002187 (Aug. 13, 2019), Moshe C. v. U.S. The record showed that, following a heated discussion with Complainant, the supervisor commented to the contractor that Complainant was on medication, implying that she had a psychiatric or mental health condition. The Commission found that the Agency attempted to accommodate Complainant’s disability by providing him with light duty office work and by exempting him from conducting interviews. The Agency also found that some of the claims were untimely raised with the EEO counselor. of Def., EEOC Appeal No. Complainant filed a formal EEO complaint alleging that the Agency discriminated against him on the basis of disability (perceived color perception deficiency) when, on January 24, 2017, it rescinded a tentative offer of employment for an MVO position following his pre-employment medical examination. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Additionally, Complainant’s appeal detailed further harassing incidents since he filed his claim. Sheryl S. v. Dep’t of the Army, EEOC Appeal No. The Commission noted that the second removal notice explicitly stated that the first removal was considered in reaching the decision. The Commission agreed with the AJ’s determination that Complainant could not pursue a generalized grievance, unless he further alleged some injury to himself and the other purported class members as a result of an alleged discriminatory practice. Verdie A. v. Dep’t of Agric., EEOC Appeal No. Complainant Entitled to New Hearing Because Alleged Responsible Official Acted as Agency Representative. Among other remedies, the Commission ordered the Agency to provide Complainant a retroactive promotion, with back pay and other benefits; and to conduct a supplemental investigation of his claim for compensatory damages. On appeal, the Commission rejected the assertion that two male comparators who were also paid less than the predecessor provided a defense to Complainant’s unequal pay claim, because there is no requirement that Complainant show a pattern of sex-based compensation disparities in a job category. Finally, the Commission concluded that the Agency’s failure to conduct an individual assessment of Complainant’s need for a reasonable accommodation reflected its lack of good faith in this matter, and therefore, Complainant was entitled to compensatory damages. The Commission affirmed the dismissal on appeal. Other family members and friends indicated that Complainant became anxious, depressed, despondent and withdrawn, and his relationship with his husband suffered as a result. As such, the Commission concluded that the Agency was liable for the sex-based and retaliatory hostile work environment created by the Manager. 2019002255 (May 9, 2019), Christopher H. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. The Commission affirmed the AJ’s finding of no discrimination regarding other allegations raised in the complaint. 0120170064 (Feb. 8, 2019), Becki P. v. Dep’t of Transp., EEOC Appeal No. The record, however, showed that the supervisor made active decisions regarding Complainant which clearly violated the terms of the agreement. The Commission concurred with the Agency that a significant reduction in attorney’s fees was appropriate, because Complainant did not prevail on his hostile work environment claim. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. The results of the visual examination alone were insufficient to establish that there would be a high probability of substantial harm to Complainant or others. Therefore, Complainant’s contact was well within the limitation period, and the Agency’s dismissal was improper. Title VII cases once again made up the majority of cases filed, making up 60% of all filings (on par with the 60% in FY 2019 and 55% in FY 2018). 2019003536 (Aug. 23, 2019), Shanta S. v. U.S. 0120171676 (Nov. 29, 2018), Teresa D. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. The Commission stated that the Agency’s 50-percent reduction was excessive, and found that a reduction by one-third was more appropriate. 27, 2020) and Natofsky v. The Agency awarded all fees requested by Complainant’s attorneys. The waiver also did not state that Complainant was given adequate time to consider the agreement, or provide her with at least seven days to revoke the agreement. Complainant contended that he officially encumbered the position on a certain date in accordance with the Agency’s reorganization plans, and he asserted that the Agency failed to allow him to negotiate a salary but allowed a female employee to negotiate her salary upon her appointment to a similar position. Summary Judgment Affirmed. 0120172609 (Feb. 15, 2019), Gia M. v. Dep’t of Def., EEOC Appeal No. 3, 2019), Leisa C. v. Dep’t. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. The Commission found, however, that the Agency’s 50-percent reduction of the remaining fees was too severe, and instead reduced the requested fees by 25 percent due to a number of vague entries such as “Fact Research,” and “daily report.”  The Commission also reduced the fee award for supplemental fees, stating that work performed by a financial expert was not related to the finding of discrimination. 2019000479 (Feb. 12, 2019) (Complainant filed an informal complaint regarding the removal of a reprimand. Complaint Improperly Dismissed for Untimely EEO Counselor Contact. On appeal, the Commission noted that the Agency was responsible for the hostile work environment unless it showed it took immediate and effective corrective action. Sec. The Commission noted that a brief failure to satisfy a time frame specified in a settlement agreement does not prevent a finding of substantial compliance of its terms, especially when as here all required actions were subsequently completed. Complainant filed an EEO complaint alleging, among other things, that the Agency discriminated against him on the basis of religion (Methodist). The harassment was severe, and the AJ found that it was reasonable for Complainant to be deeply offended by these sexualized comments. Therefore, the Agency failed to support its decision. The Commission found that the Agency improperly dismissed Complainant’s complaint alleging, among other things, age-based harassment and removal for failure to state a claim. Complainant requested a final decision in June 2016, and the Agency issued its decision in April 2017, which was beyond the 60-day time frame specified in the Commission’s regulations. Commission Issues Sanction. In addition, the Agency did not provide any evidence regarding the availability of other employees who could serve as a Sunday backup. While Complainant’s supervisor provided Complainant a list of reasonable accommodations that could be provided, she indicated that Complainant’s requested accommodations could not be provided in the laboratory and posed a safety risk. 2019002562 (Aug. 16, 2019). By alleging a pattern of harassment, Complainant stated a cognizable claim under the EEOC regulations); Freddie K. v. U.S. For example, while the AJ did not address the Agency’s failure to accommodate Complainant’s “no climbing” restriction, the AJ, without explanation noted in her decision that Complainant was required to work beyond his restrictions. Specifically, the Commission found that a hearing was necessary to determine the credibility of the managers. 0120170817 (Mar. At the time of publication of this blog posting, the EEOC had filed 101 total cases in FY 2020, which includes 94 merits lawsuits and 7 subpoena enforcement actions. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Because the Agency failed to meet its affirmative defense burden, the Commission found that it was liable for the harassment, and ordered the Agency, among other things, to investigate Complainant’s claim for damages. According to the record, the 45-day limitation period for contacting an EEO Counselor was triggered on November 23, 2014, when Complainant’s administrative leave ran out and he was required to use sick or annual leave. The Agency cited a hiring policy requiring the ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber colors as justification for rescinding the offer. 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