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HRS Tidbits Blog: Human Resource Management News and Best Practices - April 2024

Inspirational Quote:


If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  - Mother Teresa

 


4-15-2024.  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), providing important clarity that will allow pregnant workers the ability to work and maintain a healthy pregnancy and help employers understand their duties under the law. The PWFA requires most employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations,” or changes at work, for a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.


The PWFA builds upon existing protections against pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and access to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC began accepting charges of discrimination on June 27, 2023, the day on which the PWFA became effective.


The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on Apr. 19. The final rule was approved by majority vote of the Commission on Apr. 3, 2024, and becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.  [June 18, 20204]


…It provides clarity to employers and workers about who is covered, the types of limitations and medical conditions covered, how individuals can request reasonable accommodations, and numerous concrete examples.


This final rule provides important information and guidance to help employers meet their responsibilities, and to jobseekers and employees about their rights. It encourages employers and employees to communicate early and often, allowing them to identify and resolve issues in a timely manner.”


Highlights from the final regulation include:

  • Numerous examples of reasonable accommodations such as additional breaks to drink water, eat, or use the restroom; a stool to sit on while working; time off for health care appointments; temporary reassignment; temporary suspension of certain job duties; telework; or time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage, among others.

  • Guidance regarding limitations and medical conditions for which employees or applicants may seek reasonable accommodation, including miscarriage or still birth; migraines; lactation; and pregnancy-related conditions that are episodic, such as morning sickness…

  • Guidance encouraging early and frequent communication between employers and workers to raise and resolve requests for reasonable accommodation in a timely manner.

  • Clarification that an employer is not required to seek supporting documentation when an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation and should only do so when it is reasonable under the circumstances.

  • Explanation of when an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on an employer and its business.

  • Information on how employers may assert defenses or exemptions, including those based on religion, as early as possible in charge processing.


More information about the PWFA and the EEOC’s final rule, including resources for employers and workers, is available on the EEOC’s “What You Should Know about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” webpage.  For more information on pregnancy discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/pregnancy-discrimination.


3-20-2024.  To counter promoters that marketed misleading information about the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), the Internal Revenue Service urged businesses to review seven suspicious signs of a bad claim and see if the agency’s special programs can help them avoid future compliance issues.

  1. Too many quarters being claimed

  2. Government orders that don’t qualify

  3. Too many employees and wrong calculations

  4. Business citing supply chain issues

  5. Business claiming ERC for too much of a tax period

  6. Business didn’t pay wages or didn’t exist during eligibility period

  7. Promoter says there’s nothing to lose


4-18-2024.  The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released 2023 injury and illness data collected under the agency's new Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses regulation published July 2023.

The data include specific information submitted by more than 375,000 establishments on OSHA Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. It also includes individual injuries and illnesses for employers with 100 or more employees in select high-hazard industries.

 

Current Case Spotlight:  eeoc.gov


My Side Note:  This case study shows the importance of preventing sexual harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge claims to avoid harming your employees, tarnishing your company name, and digging deep into your pocketbook. It is recommended to provide training on sexual harassment upon hire and at least annually thereafter.  Contact me  for your teams’ sexual harassment training needs. 


4-22-2024.   Restaurant chain Red Robin International, Inc. agreed to pay $600,000 to four former employees and provide other injunctive relief to resolve a sexual harassment, retaliation and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a 45-year-old male line cook was allowed to sexually harass female employees on a daily basis with offensive sexual comments, requests for sex, unwanted remarks about their bodies, leering, and touching without their consent. Despite multiple female employees reporting the conduct to various managers, Red Robin failed to take prompt or effective action to stop the harassment, forcing one female server to quit. 


Such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace and requires employers to investigate complaints of sexual harassment and take measures to prevent harassment. An employer may also violate Title VII if its failure to intervene and stop unlawful harassment results in a workplace becoming so intolerable that an employee has no choice but to quit.


Under the three-year court-approved consent decree settling the suit, Red Robin will pay $600,000 to four former employees. For 12 Washington state locations, Red Robin will also hire a third party with expertise in employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation to review its policies, assist with investigations and conduct training for employees, managers, and human resources investigators. Red Robin must also adopt policies holding its managers and supervisors accountable for compliance with EEO policies and procedures.


Elizabeth M. Cannon, director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, said, “Not only should employers strive to prevent harassment and discrimination, they must also protect workers who are brave enough to speak out against it when it occurs. This resolution sends a clear message that sexual harassment is unacceptable and must be met with prompt remedial action. We will continue to relentlessly pursue justice for victims of workplace sexual harassment and retaliation.”


For more information about on sexual harassment, please visit: https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment.


Smile Moment… :)

My teachers told me I'd never amount to much because I procrastinate so much. I told them, "Just you wait!"

 

Message:

This document is abbreviated, and highlights added to summarize content. and is not intended as legal advice.  I don’t make any express or implicit warranty regarding the sufficiency, accuracy or completeness of the material.  I encourage you to obtain independent legal advice before implementing any new policy or practice that you are unsure of. 


Please contact me at your convenience if I can assist you with your leadership development or workforce training needs, Human Resources (HR) practices consulting, or HR projects.


Cheers! 

Deborah




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