15 Employees or More?
What You Need to Know
Integrity Staffing & Solutions
If you have 15 or more employees, you need to be aware of how the EEOC focus on certain employment laws may impact your business. The regulatory agencies responsible for enforcing federal employment law have areas of special emphasis which they focus on during a planning period. Let’s examine some key areas of focus for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 years of age or older), disability, or genetic information. EEOC also enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a person who has complained about discrimination or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Most employers with 15 or more employees are covered by the laws enforced by the EEOC.
Since 2013 the EEOC has taken a closer look at claims related to:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Background Checks and Credit Checks
- Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) coverage under Title VII
Under the ADA, covered employers must provide reasonable accommodations for a qualified disabled employee unless to do so would pose undue hardship on the employer. To be qualified, the employee must be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodations. According to the EEOC:
- It is not significant to the EEOC whether the employee is “qualified” for the job.
- Attendance/Punctuality are not essential functions of a job.
- Consciousness is not an essential function of a job.
- Leave policies that state an employee who is on leave for any reason for more than a specified period of time (e.g. 6 months, 12 months, 18 months) will be terminated are unlawful. EEOC requires the policy be applied on a case by case basis.
- Financial reasons generally do not pose an undue hardship under the ADA. The organization’s existence would need to be in jeopardy before it could be considered an undue hardship.
Background Checks and Credit Checks
In 1987, the EEOC provided guidance to employers in determining whether a candidate could be turned down for a position based on a conviction record. The guidance included three tests:
- The nature and gravity of the offense
- The time elapsed since the conviction
- The nature of the job sought
In addition to these three guidelines, in 2012 the EEOC began requiring that employers examine each situation individually. In considering the “nature of the job” employers must review the duties of the specific position for which the candidate is being considered. Employers with blanket policies or practices stating for example, that they do not hire those with felony convictions, are invalid.
Credit checks are also coming under more scrutiny by the EEOC. The EEOC view is that results of a credit check may not be grounds to turn someone down for employment unless the credit score is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). Case by case assessment of the circumstances must be made.
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Individuals
EEOC has stated that LGBT individuals are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Charges related of discrimination on the basis of LGBT status has received more emphasis from the EEOC in the recent years.
Employers who have concerns about these and other areas of employment law that fall under the purview of the EEOC may want to visit the EEOC website at www.eeoc.gov, consult with their HR expert or their employment law attorney for guidance.