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EEOC Continues Pushing Agenda

With Trump nominations to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stalled in the Senate, the agency continues to push its agenda in new ways.

In late July the EEOC sued a Houston employer for requiring job applicants to be of Hispanic national origin and to speak Spanish at work.

Champion Fiberglass, Inc., was charged with rejecting applicants for laborer positions who were not Hispanic and did not speak Spanish. EEOC also says the company had relied on word-of-mouth recruiting almost exclusively.

The commission asserts that non-Hispanic laborers are significantly underrrepresented in the company, and the Spanish language requirement is not job-related or consistent with business necessity.

The EEOC filed suit against an employer for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing a request to telecommute for an employee with a sensitivity to workplace smells.

The employee said she asked her supervisor three separate times if she could telecommute to avoid exposure to fragrances and odors in the workplace she claimed aggravated her asthma and COPD.

The EEOC concluded the supervisor ignored the requests to telecommute, although the employee could have performed her duties from home.

Rejecting the request without first conducting an individualized assessment of the requested accommodation violates the ADA, the EEOC said.

If an employer ignores such a request, thus failing to engage in the required “interactive process,” it risks liability for failure to accommodate, says attorney Ellison McCoy of the Jackson Lewis law firm. An employer who rejects a request after engaging in a good faith interactive process is in a much more defensible position, he notes.

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