Editors Column: Looks Like the Government Has its Own EEOC Problems

Every once in a while, I amuse myself by reading The DIGEST Of Equal Employment Opportunity Law. If you're looking for some good bedside material, you can always link here. Here's what I learned from a perusal of this most recent Digest:
  1. If an employee comes into your work environment with a pre-existing asthmatic condition and you don't transfer them away from the irritants causing or exacerbating their problems they may get depressed and you may get hit with a disability accommodation claim.

  2. The EEOC awards additional damages when they think an employee has suffered emotional hardship. According to some of the cases, damages were recovered for: hopelessness, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, hair loss, weight gain, loss of appetite, migraine, a divorce, severe mood changes, isolation, anger, sorrow, loss of self-esteem, crying spells, pain, and muscle spasms. Bottom line: it's not easy being a federal employee!

  3. I am always amazed at how long people will put up with unfair harassing, hostile intimidating, and otherwise poor conduct. Claimants say they suffer these things for years. Are they so afraid of their ability to get a new job they would rather suffer the pain they know? And just how bad can it really be if they are willing to tolerate it...sometimes for years? I remind folks: it's called work, not jail.

  4. A number of cases raised the possibility of accommodating employees by allowing them to work from home whether it's because they can't physically handle a long commute, they're being harassed, or suffering some kind of other malady. It matters not that you don't offer this benefit to your existing employees. If telecommuting would in fact help to accommodate someone they get special treatment.

  5. It seems like there wasn't a single federal agency that wasn't named in some type of suit-Department of Veterans, Department of Justice, United States Postal Service, Department of Transportation, Department of Treasury, the Army, Airforce, Navy and Department of Defense, TVA, Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, Department of Commerce, NASA and I'm sure I missed an agency or two. It appears that a number of these agencies breached the settlement agreements they got into with their employees.

    And this is the same government that's trying to tell us how to properly manage our workplaces!

  6. The Digest concluded with a brief discussion surrounding religious expression and harassment. The bottom line is this: keep religion out of the workplace unless you are discussing it on your break or at lunch with somebody who's willing to participate in the discussion. Do not bring it into performance discussions, and do not harass or act in a hostile manner towards people even if you believe they are possessed by the devil.
In one case against Department of Justice, a Unit Chief commented that complainant had a spiritual disconnect, questioned whether they love Jesus and God, and says she did not think God wanted them to work at the agency. Luckily for the DOJ, the court found that the employee would have been terminated anyway due to their poor performance and that all the Unit Chief needed was some appropriate training. I don't make this up.
Need insurance for You, Your Family or Your Business?
We can match you to a qualified, local insurance expert!
Further Reading
Here's what HR professionals are told to worry about most: FMLA, ADA, EEOC, DOL, OSHA, NLRB, FLSA, OFCCP, GINA, HIPAA, COBRA, Title VII, etc. Discipline, termination, layoffs, bullies, violence, EPLI, etc. Protecting ourselves fro...
If you rely on government contracts for your work, then you probably have some questions about the federal hiring freeze. Namely: Is it good or bad for contractors? The answer: it remains to be seen, but probably not. It may well turn out to be a ...
Policy changes in workers' compensation can be fast and sudden or slow and painful. Every time the goalposts are moved, people have to learn to adapt. With the president's agenda making headlines everywhere, it's worth taking the time out t...
For years, I've been in a cat-bird seat understanding human resource risk management. One message I’ve preached to clients and readers is the uninsurable risks in HR dwarf the insurable ones (i.e. employment practices liability claims)...
The case of In re: Beth V. Beth V., Appellant, v. New York State Office of Children & Family Services et al., Respondents. Workers' Compensation Board, Respondent was an appeal from a decision by the New York State Workers Compensation Board that...