10 Practical Steps to Avoid Employment Liability in 2010
In January, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing that 93,277 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the federal agency nationwide during Fiscal Year 2009 - the second highest level ever. The number of charges alleging age-based discrimination reached the second-highest level ever. Continuing a decade-long trend, the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in FY 2009 were charges alleging discrimination based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and sex-based discrimination (30%). Monetary relief obtained by the EEOC for victims in FY 2009 totaled over $376 million.
In releasing these statistics, EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru stated, “[t]he latest data tell us that, as the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the Commission’s work is far from finished.” The EEOC opined that the near-historic level of total discrimination charge filings may be due to multiple factors, including greater accessibility of the EEOC to the public, economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of their rights under the law, and changes to the agency’s intake practices that cut down on the steps needed for an individual to file a charge.
Undoubtedly, from the ADA Amendments Act, to new FMLA regulations, to the stimulus package, 2009 was a year of change in the employment law arena. With such sweeping changes and in light of the EEOC’s reported statistics for FY 2009, this is a good time for schools to internally audit, update and review Board policies, administrative guidelines, and employee handbooks. Here are some recommendations for avoiding liability.
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