Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • November 19, 2012
    Guest Post

    By Sarah Crawford, Director of Workplace Fairness, National Partnership for Women & Families

    Later this term, the Supreme Court will decide the case of Vance v. Ball State, a case that will have critical implications for the ability of our nation’s civil rights laws to root out unlawful workplace harassment. At issue in the case is the meaning of “supervisor” and whether employers may be held vicariously liable for harassment committed by supervisors who have the authority to direct and oversee employees’ work, as compared to those who have the authority to hire or fire.  The Court’s decision will have important ramifications for the ability of victims of supervisor harassment to hold their employers accountable. 

    With so much at stake, the National Partnership for Women & Families led a group of ten top civil and workers’ rights organizations in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in Vance that calls on the Court to reject an overly restrictive definition of supervisor that is limited to those with the authority to make “tangible” employment decisions like hiring and firing. Quite simply, this definition does not reflect the realities of the workplace or the Court’s previously demonstrated understanding of what it means to be a supervisor. 

    Petitioner Maetta Vance worked at Ball State University as a catering assistant for the university’s dining services department when she was harassed by an employee that she considered to be a supervisor with the authority to direct and oversee her work. Vance alleges that, as a result of the harassment and physical intimidation she suffered, she lived and worked in a constant state of fear. Despite her complaints to the university, the harassment persisted.

  • May 10, 2012
    Guest Post

    By Lisa Mottet, Transgender Civil Rights Project Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

    Though garnering less attention than North Carolina's disheartening constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and President Obama's monumental announcement to support same-sex marriage, another recent piece of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) news deserves significant attention.

    In what is accurately hailed as a game-changing decision for the LGBT community, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in April (Macy v. Holder) that transgender people are protected by Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination in the workplace.

    The precedential decision involved Mia Macy, a transgender woman represented by Transgender Law Center who was all but officially hired by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) when, after she told them she is transgender, she was told the position had been cut due to funding. ATF actually hired someone else and Mia lost her home as a result of the lost job opportunity.

    When ATF discriminated against Mia she became part of the horrifying statistics on employment discrimination faced by transgender people. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey: 26 percent lost a job for being transgender; 50 percent were harassed at work; and many others face humiliation, have their privacy breached, and are denied access to appropriate restrooms. Overall, 78 percent have experienced mistreatment, harassment, or discrimination on the job.

  • May 9, 2012
    Guest Post

    By Ray McClain, Director of the Employment Discrimination Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

    In late April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), under the leadership of Chair Jackie Berrien, approved updated Enforcement Guidance on Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records by employers. The Guidance analyzes clearly and comprehensively the restrictions that Title VII places on an employer’s use of any employment screen that has the intent or effect of excluding minority workers disproportionately from being hired or retained by the employer.  

    This post addresses the broader significance of the EEOC’s updated Guidance and the additional actions that are likely to be necessary to persuade employers that the Commission’s action is not merely symbolic, but requires employers to change their practices.

    Significance of the Guidance

    Pundits try to persuade the White public that we live in a “post-racial America” because President Obama is of mixed descent – Black African and White American. Both the Guidance and the Commissioners in their remarks prior to the vote laid out a few of the many statistics that starkly demonstrate that America today is anything but “post-racial”; the Guidance recounted that:

    African Americans and Hispanics are arrested at a rate that is 2 to 3 times their proportion of the general population.  Assuming that current incarceration rates remain unchanged, about 1 in 17 White men are expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime; by contrast, this rate climbs to 1 in 6 for Hispanic men; and to 1 in 3 for African American men.

    Virtually all public employers and 80 percent of private employers check all new applicants for employment to see whether they have records of recent arrests or criminal convictions. Over 90 percent check on at least some applicants. From the EEOC’s statistics, it is clear that the practice of so many employers in excluding ex-offenders from equal consideration in hiring takes a heavy toll on minority workers, especially African Americans, and helps to keep African American unemployment at consistently twice the rate of unemployment for white workers. 

    Depression-level rates of unemployment have plagued the African American community since early in the current recession. Unemployment for African American men has recently been as high as 18 percent of those seeking employment and about 25 percent when the numbers include African American men who would work if they thought they could find anyone to hire them. The rate has been 40 percent for African Americans 19 and younger.  

    The EEOC’s updating of Guidance on this critical issue can be a major step in opening many doors to jobs that for too long have been closed to many minority workers.

    What did the Guidance do?