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Weekend Roundup: Total EEOC Fines in 2018, Equal Pay Law, and More

Is your workplace anti-discrimination policy up to date? You may want to give it another look after hearing this sobering fact: Employers paid more than half a billion dollars this year to resolve U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges, according to the commission’s latest Performance and Accountability Report published November 15. In other news, Oregon issued its final rules recently related to the state’s new equal pay law and American Airlines is being sued by its union employees over its drug testing policy. Find out why in today’s Weekend Roundup:

Employers paid $505M to resolve EEOC charges in FY201

EEOC is capping off what may be remembered as a historic year for the commission, if not for the issue of workplace discrimination, generally—and for workplace harassment in particular. Just over a year has passed since the October 2017 allegations published against filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, spurring a wave of similar accusations against high-profile men in the business world, along with the near-synonymous #MeToo movement.

Sexual harassment isn’t the only issue tracked by EEOC, but it has become one of the commission’s most active areas of enforcement this year. The number of sex-harassment suits filed by EEOC jumped more than 50 percent year-over-year in 2018, while the number of sex-harassment charges filed with the commission rose 12 percent over that same period.

Bureau Issues Final Rules on Oregon’s Equal Pay Law

On November 19, 2018, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) issued its final administrative rules relating to the state’s Equal Pay Law, which prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of protected class, as well as screening job applicants based on current or past compensation.

The rules establish definitions for several key words in the law, provide more concrete guidance on how to meet the law’s posting requirements, and seek to clarify certain provisions of the law related to screening job applicants based on salary history, determining whether employees perform work of comparable character, establishing bona fide factors that may justify paying employees performing work of comparable character at different compensation levels, explaining benefits as a component of compensation, and “red-circling” or freezing employee compensation in order to bring the pay of employees performing work of comparable character into alignment. Finally, the rules establish that an employer commits an unlawful compensation practice each time an employee is paid in violation of the Equal Pay Law. 

Union Sues American Airlines Over Drug Tests

A union that represents American Airlines fleet-service employees is suing the Fort Worth-based carrier because of what it deems are unnecessary drug tests.

Fleet service employees perform jobs such as bag loading and aircraft cleaning. While federal law dictates some aviation employees receive drug testing, there is no rule that dictates fleet service employees have to, the Transport Workers Union of America argued in a lawsuit filed last week in the Northern District of Illinois.

The union and airline’s collective bargaining agreement, or CBA, says only if there is “reasonable cause” or after an accident can fleet service employees be drug tested, the TWU said in the lawsuit.

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