LIEB BLOG

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Showing posts with label employment discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employment discrimination. Show all posts

Monday, January 10, 2022

New Rules Protecting Federal Employees from Employment Discrimination Published

Since 2021, federal employees have been protected from workplace discrimination by the Elijah E. Cummings Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination Act of 2020, which added protections, notice, and reporting to the No FEAR Act.


To implement the Cummings Act, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published proposed rules on January 6, 2022, which are currently in the public comment period. 


These rules include:  

  • Whistleblower and retaliation protections;
  • Notice of findings of intentional acts of discrimination to be made on a publically accessible internet page;
  • Agencies to submit annual reports to the Director of OPM;
  • Agencies to submit disciplinary action reports to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
  • Agency employees found to have intentionally committed discriminatory acts, including retaliation, will have notations of the discriminatory acts added to the employee's personnel record;
  • New public disclosure obligations; and
  • Federal agencies to add new trainings for all employees about their rights and remedies under law.


The comment period ends on 2/07/2022 and then, these rules will be finalized to become effective. 


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Americans with Disabilities Act Update: COVID-19 Considered a Disability for Purposes of Employment Discrimination

Thousands of Americans who have contracted COVID-19 may now qualify for disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) passed new ADA guidelines to cover individuals with COVID-19 disabilities.


There are three ways a person can be deemed to have a COVID-19 disability under the ADA.

  1. A person with COVID-19 has an Actual Disability if the person’s medical condition or any of its symptoms is a "physical or mental" impairment that "substantially limits one or more major life activities." An individualized assessment is [required] to determine whether the effects of a person’s COVID-19 substantially limit a major life activity. This will always be a case-by-case determination.
  2. A person who has or had COVID-19 can be an individual with a Record of a Disability if the person has "a history of, or has been misclassified as having, an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, based on an individualized assessment.”
  3. A person is Regarded as an Individual with a Disability if the person is subjected to an adverse action (e.g., being fired, not hired, or harassed) because the person has an impairment, such as COVID-19, or the employer mistakenly believes the person has [COVID-19].”

In some cases, regardless of whether an individual’s initial case of COVID-19, itself, constitutes an actual disability because the case-by-case evaluation does not result in such a determination, that individual’s COVID-19 may end up causing impairments that are themselves disabilities under the ADA.


If you meet either the “actual" or “record of” definition of disability you may be eligible for a reasonable accommodation at the workplace.


It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees or applicants based on a COVID-19 disability. Further, it is unlawful for employers to refuse to provide reasonable accommodation for those with COVID-19 disabilities if it does not place an undue hardship on the employer.


If you believe you’ve been the target of COVID-19 Disability Discrimination by an employer then you should seek the counsel of an attorney to determine the extent of your injuries. Your attorney can assist you filing a legal complaint with EEOC. If the employer is found to have acted unlawful according to the ADA, then your attorney can leverage your position so you are awarded compensatory damages, penal damages, penalties, and attorney fees.


Also, don't forget that state and local anti-discrimination laws have lower standards to qualify for protection so even if you don't qualify under the ADA, check your state, county, city, or town / village. 



Monday, December 06, 2021

Second Circuit Holds that Requiring Teachers to Submit a Letter from a Religious Leader in Support of a Request for a Reasonable Accommodation is Unconstitutional

The 15 public school teachers who challenged New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate live to fight another day in court.


The teachers have refused to comply with the City’s mandate arguing that compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is a violation of their religious rights under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.


The Court determined that the reasonable accommodation standards in the City's vaccine mandate was unconstitutional as applied to the 15 teachers because the mandate required employees who requested a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to submit a letter from a religious leader confirming the validity of the employee's religious beliefs. If the religious leader had well-documented public comments in support of taking the vaccine, the request for exemptions would be denied.


The Court reasoned as follows:


Denying an individual a religious accommodation based on someone else's publicly expressed religious views-even the leader of her faith-runs afoul of the Supreme Court's teaching that "[i]t is not within the judicial ken to question the centrality of particular beliefs or practices to a faith, or the validity of particular litigants' interpretations of those creeds."


However, the Court declined to extend protections against the mandate to all teachers stating that the mandate itself was "a reasonable exercise of the state's power to act to protect the public health."


Based on this decision, employers should only consider the employee's specific religious beliefs (in determining whether they are "sincerely held") when processing a reasonable accommodation request. Someone else's belief  - even if it is a religious leader - is irrelevant. 




Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Artificial Intelligence Decides if You're Hired! Is It Discriminatory?

Wonder why you were denied the last job or promotion you applied for? 


Wonder no more, because there is a good chance that it wasn't a human's decision. In fact, Artificial Intelligence "AI" has become the judge on who is hired or who is promoted for most employers and employment agencies. However, AI isn't perfect and may be infringing on your anti-discrimination rights if it's not properly programmed and regularly audited. 


That is why AI or Automated Employment Decision Tool "AEDT" has been the target of much scrutiny. Experts point out that AEDT are prone to bias in their hiring and promotion process. Biases include racial, sexual, and ethnic discrimination, amongst so many other protected categories. This problem has become so worrisome that New York City is putting in place an amendment to the New York City Administrative Code to curb the use of AI in hiring. 


Such amendment was approved by the New York City Counsel on November 10th, 2021. It can be read here.  The purpose of the Bill is to require employers and employment agencies to assess employees and candidates without the use of machine learned biases. The effects of such machine learned biases are discriminatory in nature.

Now, the Bill is on the Mayor's desk and goes into effect on January 1, 2023.


The Bill is limited to regulating AI decisions that screen candidates for employment or screen employees for promotion. This limitation is not without exception. An AEDT is allowed if the tool has undergone an independent bias audit no more than one year prior to it use. The audit's summary then must become publicly available on the employers' or employment agencies' website.


But how will you know if the employer or employment agency is using AEDT on you? The law enforces notification guidelines that will inform employees and candidates of its use.


If caught in violation of the law, employers and employment agencies face fines of up to $500 for the 1st violation, and fines between $500 to $1,500 for each subsequent violation. Plus, they may be exposed to a discrimination lawsuit with compensatory damages, punitive damages, penalties and attorneys' fees being awarded to the victim. If you believe that you were discriminated against by an AI / AEDT, your lawyer will be able to determine it's involvement during the lawsuit and leverage the company's non-compliance with the NYC Bill to win your case. 





Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Filing a Discrimination Complaint with the NYS Division of Human Rights Just Got Easier

As of July 16, 2021, discrimination victims need not have their discrimination complaints notarized before filing them with the NYS Division of Human Rights, per a change to Executive Law 297(1)


This applies to both victims of employment discrimination and housing discrimination.


According to the laws justification, the notarization requirement "discourage[d] people from filing complaints" and the Division nonetheless received over 6,000 complaints annually. 


How many complaints will the Division receive now? 


Do you think that this new law makes sense? 


Does it matter if a document is notarized? 


Shouldn't preventing discrimination be as easy as pie?