The Commission affirmed the Agency’s award of $5,332.14 in past pecuniary damages, as well as the Agency’s finding that Complainant did not prove her claim for future pecuniary damages. 0120180973 (Apr. The Commission affirmed the AJ’s finding of no discrimination regarding other allegations raised in the complaint. 0120181352 (July 3, 2019), Dick R. v. U.S. The EEOC is starting to reflect the changes in priorities and leadership that many expected out of the Trump Administration, but that, until now, had been slow in coming. The Agency issued a final decision finding no discrimination regarding Complainant’s ongoing harassment and disparate treatment claims but concluded that management failed to reasonably accommodate Complainant’s medical condition. Forty-one of the Title VII cases alleged discrimination based on sex and eleven based on race. It will also pay a total of $3,705 in clothing … Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. 0120170444 (Dec. 7, 2018), Elease S. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. 2019002130 (June 20, 2019). 30, 2019). 5, 2019). Summary Judgment Reversed. Complainant Stated Viable Claim of Harassment & Constructive Discharge. 0120172736 (Dec. 7, 2018), Darius C. v. U.S. The Commission stated that the Agency’s 50-percent reduction was excessive, and found that a reduction by one-third was more appropriate. The Agency did not challenge the claimed hours expended or the attorney’s $300 hourly rate. 0120172206 (Feb. 15, 2019). While the Agency relied upon a “core” document for the particular grade level, the Commission agreed with the AJ that the document was of little value due to its interdisciplinary nature, applying to a wide range of positions. Alline B. v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. By comparison, the EEOC … A Special Edition Workplace Class Action Blog, By: Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., Christopher J. DeGroff, Matthew J. Gagnon, and Alex S. Oxyer. The Agency also improperly dismissed 2 claims for untimely EEO counselor contact, because the incidents that make up a hostile work environment claim collectively constitute one unlawful employment practice, so that the entire claim is actionable, as long as at least one incident occurred within the filing period). Each comparison employee identified by Complainant (despite some different job titles) was responsible for delivering the mail. Complainant provided the supervisor with a note from her physician the previous day stating that she had “reactive depression/anxiety,” and on the date in question Complainant told the supervisor she had taken medication prescribed by her physician. The Commission ordered the Agency to resume processing the underlying EEO complaint from the point processing ceased. Complainant stated she withdrew the complaint when a person in Human Resources informed her the reprimand would be removed after one year. 0120170582 (Apr. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. 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. On appeal, the Commission found that the Agency improperly dismissed the complaint for untimely EEO Counselor contact. 2019000412 (June 4, 2019), Susan A. v. U.S. The AJ credited Complainant’s testimony that his supervisor regarded him as a “big, Black man” and thus stereotyped Complainant as aggressive and intimidating. Therefore, an award of $15,000, when considering the need to adjust for inflation,  was proper. The Agency acknowledged that management officials placed and maintained documentation listing Complainant’s condition and prescribed medication in his driver’s personnel file in the Postal Vehicle Services Unit. Every worker has a right to a safe, fair work environment, and if you are facing any type of unfairness, mistreatment, or unlawful behavior in regards to your gender, nationality, or any other characteristic, you may have a discrimination case. On appeal, Complainant asserted that the Agency should have awarded him a retroactive appointment to the position and a non-competitive promotion. Commission Increased Award of Non-Pecuniary Damages to $10,000. Additional Decisions Addressing an Agency’s Failure to Provide an Interpreter Include:  Coralee H. v. U.S. but the record indicated that a specialist corrected the discrepancies identified by Complainant. The Commission noted that Complainant had pre-existing conditions (PTSD and depression) and the Agency was only liable for additional harm or aggravation caused by the discrimination (denial/delay of reasonable accommodation). Complainant alleged her coworker physically threatened women and minorities, and her manager stalked and physically intimidated her on the workroom floor. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s dismissal of the claims regarding the position description and training request. Instead of enforcing laws on the books and addressing a massive backlog of cases, the EEOC chose to use its limited resources to engage in random acts of … In addition, the Agency did not provide any evidence regarding the availability of other employees who could serve as a Sunday backup. Complainant alleged that workers on other tours received overtime, while he and those on his tour did not. The Commission found that the joint right of control in the hiring process pointed to joint employment. 0120172563 (Nov. 8, 2018), (the Commission found the agreement, providing, in pertinent part, that the Agency would treat Complainant fairly and in accordance with Agency rules and regulations with regard to promotions and merit increases, was unenforceable because it was vague and lacked consideration. Complainant had previously sought treatment for work-related stress and was diagnosed with adjustment disorder, recurrent major depression, panic attacks, and PTSD. 24, 2019). Harold M. v. Dep’t of the Air Force, EEOC Appeal No. Specifically, Agency supervisors assigned and reviewed Complainant’s work, and Complainant used Agency equipment). Wrongful Termination Case Where Employee Fired After Complaining About Sexual Harassment Settled By EEOC. According to the EEOC’s case filing, the RN was employed by the pediatric medical practice for about nine years, first as an LPN working part-time during her nursing school program and, upon graduation, as a … Therefore, the Agency did not meet its burden to show undue hardship. The Agency also found that some of the claims were untimely raised with the EEO counselor. Complainant took multiple medications however it was unclear which of those related to her repetitive motion disorder. 0120172477 (Mar. The Commission previously found that the Agency denied Complainant reasonable accommodation and discriminated against him based on disability and prior EEO activity. The Commission found that the Agency was unable to meet its burden of proving that granting Complainant additional excused absences (LWOP) would have created an undue hardship on its operations. Specifically, Complainant stated that she was subjected to ongoing harassment. Rochelle F. v. U.S. Ethan M. v. Dep’t of Agric., EEOC Appeal No. 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. 0720180007 (Dec.11, 2018), request for reconsideration denied EEOC Request No. Seven of the 23 candidates on the COE were selected for an interview. Complainant Timely Initiated EEO Contact Upon Learning of the Limitation Period. Complainant filed a formal complaint alleging ongoing harassment. Although the supervisor indicated he was not aware that Complainant had been denied an interpreter at any time, he did acknowledge providing Complainant with handouts in lieu of an interpreter at some time during the period mentioned by Complainant. Disability Discrimination Found Regarding Denial of Accommodation & Charge of AWOL. Even where there is joint liability, neither the charging party nor the Commission is obligated to pursue a claim against both entities. The Commission remanded the claim for a determination of whether Complainant was improperly denied a reasonable amount of official time. Terisa B. v. Dep’t of Def., EEOC Appeal Nos. Alline B. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. The Commission affirmed the AJ’s decision on appeal. Complainant cited two verbal exchanges she had with S1, one in which he told her to “get off her stool” at a meeting, and another when S1 instructed her to bring back mail she could not deliver by the end of her eight-hour work shift. 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. 2019002562 (Aug. 16, 2019), Irvin C. v. Nat’l Archives & Records Admin., EEOC Appeal No. 0120170703 (Mar. 26, 2019). The Commission found that the agreement was void for lack of consideration. The Commission found that Complainant established that he was subjected to a hostile work environment. Commission Affirmed AJ’s Finding that Complainant Not Entitled to Back Pay. The Commission found, however, that a reduction of 75 percent, rather than the Agency’s 90 percent reduction, was reasonable. 2019001079 (Feb. 8, 2019); Additional Decisions Addressing Lack of Consideration in a Settlement Agreement Include:  Cortez J. v. U.S. Pamula W. v. Dep’t of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. In a prior decision, the Commission found that the Agency discriminated against Petitioner based on sex/pregnancy when it terminated her and subjected her to a hostile work environment which ultimately resulted in constructive discharge when the Agency cancelled the termination but failed to assign Petitioner to a different supervisor. The Commission increased the award to $65,000 on appeal, finding that Complainant’s statement, along with that of a supporting witness, established that for an extended period, the Agency’s failure to accommodate Complainant caused her to experience physical discomfort/pain, deterioration of her medical condition, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and negative impacts on familial relationships. Further, the comparative employee testified that her responsibilities, scope of influence, and expertise were the same. The Commission increased the Agency’s award of $3,000 in compensatory damages to $7,500 for harm sustained when he was denied reasonable accommodation. The Commission did not consider a corrected accounting of fees submitted by Complainant’s attorney for the first time on appeal. Complainant filed a formal EEO complaint alleging that her travel voucher was not fully reimbursed. The Agency dismissed the complaint because complainant by his own statements was not eligible for the position. Prior to last week, the EEOC’s leadership included only three of five Commissioners: Janet Dhillon (Republican – Chair), Vicki Lipnic (Republican), and Charlotte Burrows (Democrat). Complainant’s duties included formulating agency-wide procurement doctrine and policy, developing and implementing acquisition and risk management, quality assurance and compliance activities, and conducting the contracting officer warranting program. Based upon the evidence, the AJ properly found that Complainant was constructively discharged. The Commission found the second complaint sufficiently different from the first complaint because Complainant was told to wait one year, which had now passed); Roman G. v. U.S. The Commission noted that, to the extent Complainant believed the reassignment itself was discriminatory, she could file a new complaint raising that allegation. Claims of a few isolated incidents were insufficient to state a harassment claim. Matilde M. v. Soc. 0120170068 (Nov. 29, 2018). Complainant alleged that the Agency breached the agreement when, over 10 years later, it transferred her to another unit. 2019001412 (Mar. 0120172032 (Mar. The record established that none of the White employees who failed to deliver mail received discipline while Complainant and another Black employee charged with such behavior were placed off duty and received removal notices. The Agency was ordered, among other things, to ensure Complainant was provided with a qualified sign language interpreter when required during her employment and investigate her claim for damages). Complainant alleged race discrimination when he was not selected for a supervisor position in July 2018 and September 2018. Shanta S. v. U.S. The case, filed on behalf of a 50-person class, quickly settled for approximately $625,000. 21, 2019). 0120180942 (June 11, 2019). She also alleged the Agency summarily denied her request for an ergonomic chair and frequently relegated her to the least desirable assignments such as working in the lobby. Viewing all of the alleged incidents collectively, the Commission found that Complainant set forth an actionable claim of harassment. Concise Display Name. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. The record reflected that the supervisor micro-managed Complainant and denied his requests to take a bathroom break, and in one instance grabbed his lab coat when he attempted to go to the restroom. The Agency found that it did not discriminate against Complainant when it would not allow him to take restroom breaks as needed, and required Complainant to disclose medical information on a publicly displayed form. 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. Five were based on religion and four on national origin. While the Agency asserted that management was often tasked to schedule safety talks and similar meetings without notice, the Agency failed to explain why the safety talks and meetings had to have been scheduled immediately, and why an interpreter could not have been obtained on shorter notice. The Commission noted that, despite the Agency’s assertions, it could not make a clear distinction between the harm resulting from the express finding of discrimination by the manager and the manager’s other alleged, but unproven, acts of discrimination. Admin., EEOC Appeal No. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. Leonardo M. v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. In contrast, the female comparator employee, who received a lateral reassignment into the position of Chancellor of the Agency’s Acquisition Academy, had entirely different job duties, including leading the design, development and delivery of competency-based training for the Agency’s acquisition workforce, and developing/implementing Agency-wide acquisition workforce training policies, programs, and practices for employees. 2019004448 (Sept. 11, 2019). The Commission strongly recommended, given the serious nature of Complainant’s allegations and her claim that management failed to remove her from the supervisor’s supervision, that the Agency remove Complainant from the supervisor’s supervision during the processing of the complaint. Complainant Stated Viable Claim of Harassment. When Complainant failed to report for training as scheduled on several Sundays, however, he was marked as absent without official leave (AWOL) and issued a Notice of Removal for failing to report to work on three consecutive Sundays, as well as failure to report to work on two days when he used approved leave. 2019000891 (Apr. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. In addition to tracking the total number of filings, we also keep a close watch on which of the EEOC’s 15 district offices are most actively filing new cases. Complainant was given a standard letter for his doctor to complete and return so that he could take the polygraph. The Commission has previously held that where a settlement agreement assigns a position but does not specify the duration of the position, it is reasonable to assume that the parties did not intend that the position would last forever. The new trend, which appears to have emerged from “pilot program” status, seeks to streamline case processing in connection with EEOC pre-hearing … The Commission has stated that employers may need to modify general leave policies when providing accommodation and emphasized that engagement in the interactive process with the employee is specifically designed to enable the employer to obtain relevant information to determine the feasibility of providing the leave as a reasonable accommodation without causing an undue hardship. 2019001343 (Mar. The Commission found an award of $200,000 was neither monstrously excessive nor the product of passion or prejudice and was consistent with prior EEOC precedent. According to the record, Petitioner’s interim earnings exceeded her gross back pay by more than $200,000. Complainant ultimately received accommodations in February 2015, and his performance improved such that he was promoted five months later. Complainant sought EEO counseling alleging that the Postmaster attempted to terminate his employment, failed to provide him training, and “took further…actions” against him. The Agency failed to adequately consider the effects that the denial of accommodation and accompanying stress had on Complainant and her medical conditions. 2019002991 (July 2, 2019), Clinton M. v. Soc. Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. The Commission found that the AJ improperly dismissed Complainant’s hostile work environment claims as previously adjudicated before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Postal Serv., Appeal No, 0120171165 (Oct. 12, 2018). 0720180030 (Aug. 20, 2019). 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 … Since Petitioner could not have worked full-time in her civilian job while also working full-time in active-duty military status, her earnings while on active duty were interim earnings which must be deducted from the back pay award. The Agency began its investigation of the instant EEO complaint on March 28, 2017 and concluded its investigation on May 16, 2017. 0120171541 (Apr. Upon the Agency’s motion, an AJ dismissed Complainant’s complaints as moot, indicating that Complainant had retired, and there was no potential for additional relief because Complainant failed to specifically request compensatory damages. In addition, the supervisor, as well as a visiting Doctor, treated Complainant in a disrespectful and unwelcome manner, and exhibited frustration with him when he could not hear what they were saying. 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. Instead, Complainant argued that he could not have reasonably developed suspicions until his FOIA request was fulfilled. 0120172249 (Mar. 15, 2019), Matilde M. v. Soc. EEOC Fiscal Year 2020 Fizzle? Complainant requested alternative software the following month. Accordingly, the Commission was unpersuaded by the Agency’s attempt to recant its finding of discrimination or limit the duration of the time of injury and increased the award of non-pecuniary damages to $10,000 to more appropriately provide full and make-whole relief. During FY 2020, despite the significant drop in cases filed by the EEOC against employers, the EEOC recovered a record amount of $535.4 million on behalf of alleged discrimination victims. The agreement also specified that management and Complainant would communicate professionally with each other. The Agency provided evidence that other injured employees similarly received discipline for violating safety rules. The Commission concluded that the Agency failed to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for not selecting Complainant. 2019001265 (Apr. 8, 2019), Cathy V. v. U.S. 0120180949 (June 13, 2019). Postal Serv., EEOC Appeal No. 0120181502 (Sept. 17, 2019), Coralee H. v. U.S. Safety Bd., EEOC Appeal No. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s finding of no discrimination concerning Complainant’s many disparate treatment claims. Specifically, the manager’s harassment, imposition of discipline and comments to Complainant were not utterly separate and distinct from the manager’s failure to engage in the interactive process. Further, the Agency’s proffered reasons for Complainant’s termination were not worthy of belief. The Commission affirmed the Agency’s finding that Complainant did not establish a prima facie case of national origin or sex discrimination with regard to the ERB position, because two of the interviewees were members of Complainant’s protected groups. The Commission found a lack of typicality because the Class Agent noted the members were of various races and both sexes, while only two had disabilities and one engaged in prior EEO activity. These priorities emphasized goals of consistency and an acknowledgement that litigation is “truly a last resort.”. (A summary of the Commission’s decision regarding compensatory damages can be found below- Editor.). The Agency found that Complainant was discriminated against when management required additional medical documentation prior to providing her with certain computer software as an accommodation. The Commission subsequently denied Petitioner’s petition for enforcement, finding that the Agency correctly calculated the amount of back pay due. The Agency dismissed Complainant’s complaint of harassment for failure to state a claim, finding that Complainant was an employee of a staffing firm and not the Agency. 0120181401 (Aug. 14, 2019). 2019001754 (May 7, 2019), Ludie M. v. U.S. 1-800-669-6820 (TTY) 2019002305 (May 7, 2019). One Response to Six employment law cases that will shape 2020. While the AJ referenced the predecessor’s impressive private sector experience that Complainant did not have as justification for the pay difference, the record did not contain any evidence that this experience was a factor that the Agency considered in setting the predecessor’s pay. Complainant filed an EEO complaint alleging, among other things, that the Agency discriminated against him on the basis of religion (Methodist). of Commerce, EEOC Appeal No. Corp., EEOC Appeal No. The Commission also affirmed the Agency’s finding that Complainant was not discriminated against when she was not selected for another position. Upon review, the Commission found that the crux of Complainant’s formal complaint was that he was being subjected to unlawful compensation discrimination and, therefore, the dismissal on the grounds of untimely EEO Counselor contact was improper. Agency Failed to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation. EEOC … Under the Lilly Ledbetter Act, a case involving disparity in compensation is ongoing as long as the employee is affected by the agency’s action. However, none of the lawsuits filed in January were publicized. The Commission noted that any agreement between Complainant and her attorney is a private contractual matter not within the Commission’s purview. Bryant F. v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., EEOC Appeal No. Victor S. v. U.S. It was undisputed that the supervisor’s negative reference resulted in Complainant’s nonselection for the position despite her qualifications, outstanding recommendations from other Agency references, and favorable performance ratings from the supervisor both before and after the reference. The record clearly showed that Complainant had provided sufficient information to substantiate her disabilities and need for leave as an accommodation for disability-related flare ups. Commission Modified Award of Attorney’s Fees. According to Seyfarth Shaw, “FY 2020 ended with a whimper, … Complainant blacked out the portion of the document that indicated it was confidential and subject to a protective order. 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