There was an interesting piece by Catherine Moreton Gray which reported Peggy Mastroianni's (associate legal counsel for the EEOC) talk at the Society for Human Resource Managers Employment Law and Legislative Conference in Washington last week. In that discussion, Mastroianni outlined the Commission's top priorities for 2009.
Here's what she listed:
Enforcement of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: The EEOC will look closely at complaints it dismissed since May 27, 2007, the effective date of the Act to see if reinstatement is appropriate. She said that the agency did not expect a surge in wage claims as a result of the new law. It will be interesting to see if her prediction is correct.
GINA: I wrote a post about the Genetic Information Non Discrimination Act in February. In short, GINA prohibits the use of genetic tests concerning an employee's own or family's medical history to make an employment decision.The EEOC is in the process of formulating regulations for enforcement of the Act. There will be more to come about this law once the regulations are published.
ADA Amendments Act (ADAA): The EEOC is working on proposed regulations for the ADAA. The big change of course is that the definition of the term disability will be construed broadly so that more people will be covered by the Act consistent with the Act's original intent. Mitigating measures, such as medications or prosthetic devices, can't be considered for purposes of determining whether a person is disabled.
I attended a Society for Human Resource Management Conference a couple of months ago. The panel of management lawyers from the large firms all agreed on the advice to the HR manager attendees: "treat everyone as disabled and accommodate."
This is a good thing and it's about time. According to Gray's article, one of Mastroianni's remarks about the new amendments: "employer's doing the reasonable thing won't have to make any changes." We'll see.
Religious Discrimination: I thought this discussion was very interesting, Three areas mentioned were:
- Scheduling cases: While an employer is not required to make other employees swap shifts to accommodate scheduling around religious observances, they can't interfere with employees switching on a volunteer basis
- Muslim prayer breaks: Observant Muslims are required to pray five times a day. Employers may need to stagger breaks to accommodate this request so long as it does not pose an undue hardship on the business. This apparently has been a problem.
- Modifying duties: If pharmacists do not want to fill prescriptions for contraceptives on religious grounds, the employer may have to accommodate and pass the prescription on to another pharmacist. Again, this is a story we have heard about, and it's good to see that the EEOC is tackling it.
We'll be talking more about these topics as the regulations and new cases get reported.