The theme for last year’s federal developments was reversal of Obama-era rules. The Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board were especially active in this respect.
After a relatively quiet Supreme Court term for employment law in 2018-19, the stage is set for the court to rule in 2020 on highly anticipated topics. Below is a summary of major federal employment law headlines from last year and a look at what employers can expect in 2020.
In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employee’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies is not a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing a lawsuit, rather it is a procedural requirement that could be waived by the employer’s failure to timely raise the issue.
In Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, --- S.Ct. ---- (U.S. June 3, 2019) the plaintiff, Davis, filed a charge of discrimination alleging sex discrimination and retaliation. While that charge was pending, Davis was told to report to work on a Sunday. When Davis refused due to a prior church commitment, her employment was terminated. Intending to amend her earlier charge, Davis submitted an EEOC Intake Questionnaire on which she handwrote “religion” under “Harms or Actions” and checked the boxes for “discharge” and “reasonable accommodation.” However, Davis made no change to her formal charge of discrimination document to allege discrimination on the basis of her religion.
As we explained last week, a federal judge recently ruled that all employers who are required to submit EEO-1 surveys must report 2018 employee pay data by Sept. 30, 2019. In that ruling, the court also ordered the EEOC to collect a second year of pay data and gave the agency a choice between collecting employers’ 2017 data with the 2018 pay data or waiting to collect 2019 pay data next year.
A federal judge reportedly ruled April 25 that all employers who are required to submit EEO-1 surveys on employee demographic data must report employee pay data by Sept. 30, 2019. This includes employers with at least 100 employees and federal contractors with at least 50 employees and a contract of $50,000 or more with the federal government.
2018 was a relatively quiet year in federal employment law developments, but the stage is set for a much more active 2019. Below is a summary of major federal employment law headlines and a look at what employers can expect in 2019.
For Missouri and Illinois employers, a review of 2018 state updates and a look forward at 2019 can be found here.
In an age when companies are more progressive than ever and employers are focused on keeping employees happy and healthy, employee benefits such as vacation days and paid leave are on the rise. Bloomberg reports that more than one in three U.S. employers now offers paid maternity leave beyond the amount required by law, up from one in six earlier this decade. Similarly, benefits such as paternity leave for new fathers and parental leave for new adoptive parents and same-sex couples have become more common.
In recent years, “English-only” workplace policies have garnered increased scrutiny under employment discrimination laws on the state and national levels. Employers with these policies need to take note of recent updates to state statutes and regulations governing the lawfulness of “English-only” workplace policies and the overall broadening scope of other bases for discrimination claims.
As we reported last fall, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined that a multi-month continuous leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The case was Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., 872 F.3d 476 (7th Cir. 2017). After exhausting 12 continuous weeks of FMLA leave for a serious back condition, Severson informed his employer that he would need to remain off work for another two to three months. The Seventh Circuit reasoned that the ADA is an antidiscrimination statute, not a medical leave entitlement, and an employee who needs long-term medical leave cannot work and is therefore not a qualified individual under the ADA.
A recent Seventh Circuit case held that additional leave beyond what is otherwise required by leave entitlement laws is not a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This holding provides important guidance for employers. Continue reading for the details of this case and our recommended best practices in light of its holding.
With a new year and a new presidential administration, the restroom access debate is a hot topic again.
On Feb. 22, 2017, the Trump administration withdrew the Obama-era directive to public schools that instructed schools to permit transgender students access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their expressed gender identity or risk violating Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination. The Trump administration clarified that its action in rescinding President Obama’s guidance was not an attack on the LGBTQ community, but an action taken on the premise that this is a state’s rights issue. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos explained in a statement: “We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment…This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.”