Is Your Name Job-Blocking You?

Who would have thought that getting a call back for a job interview not only comes down to experience, but also to employers’ reactions to your name?

A National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) field experiment tackled this very question. In the experiment, researchers submitted resumes of fictitious individuals in response to newspaper help-wanted ads.

The results showed that names perceived as “White” resulted in a 50 percent higher call back rate than those that sounded African-American. Resumes with addresses in better neighborhoods also received more call backs, but that didn’t seem dependent on race. Yet employers located in more African-American neighborhoods were less likely to discriminate.

Latino Changes Name on Resume, Gets Job Offers

Social Media Discrimination

Another study by Carnegie Mellon University found that employers in states with high levels of people identifying themselves as Republican were less likely to interview candidates whose social networking profiles indicate that they are Muslim.

Again, researchers created fictitious applicants, but this time they all had identical resumes. The researchers also created social profiles for each applicant that revealed sexual orientation or religious affiliation but kept all other information – even the photograph – the same. None of the resumes mentioned the applicant’s online profile.

The study found no difference in the number of call backs between the gay or straight applicant between Republican and Democratic states; however, the Republican-state employers were more likely to call back the fictitious applicants with “Christian” social media profiles than those identified as Muslim.

Using Social Media in the Recruiting Process

The career search engine Monster offers the following advice on their Social Media Recruiting: Understand the Legal Guidelines page:

“Once you review a candidate’s online profile, a court will assume you are aware of that person’s ‘protected characteristics’ that are often part of their online postings. These characteristics include gender and race as well as those that are not always evident in a face-to-face interview such as religion, age, sexual orientation or disability. In such cases employers need to be particularly careful not to expand their interview questions or decision-making beyond legal interview limits.”

The EEOC and Workplace Discrimination

In a public meeting, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) warned employers that using social media to screen applicants can put employers at risk of violating anti-discrimination laws. Information such as the applicant’s race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, religion or other protected characteristics can be gained from using social media and could constitute a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.

The EEOC recommended a couple of alternative strategies:

  • Use a third party to conduct social media screening of applicants. This is similar to the common use of a third party for conducting background checks.
  • Designate a specific employee within your company to perform social media background checks – someone who is not the final decision maker but who is trained to disregard protected characteristics when exploring job candidates.

While employers may use social media to find and interact with qualified job candidates, they must also have consistent safeguards in place to ensure they are not in violation of anti-discrimination laws.



Philadelphia Pregnancy Protections and New Required Poster

The City of Philadelphia has amended its Fair Practices Ordinance: Protections Against Unlawful Discrimination to require employers to provide reasonable accommodation for employees with special needs resulting from pregnancy or childbirth.

The Ordinance revision adds pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical issues as conditions protected against discrimination in employment opportunities, public accommodations, and housing.

How Philadelphia Employers Need to Accommodate Pregnancy and Childbirth

Philadelphia employers must provide eligible employees reasonable accommodation for workers who are pregnant, new mothers, or who suffer from a pregnancy-related or childbirth-related medical condition, as long as the accommodation doesn’t pose an undue hardship to the business.

Reasonable accommodations include:

  • Restroom breaks
  • Periodic rest breaks
  • Assistance with manual labor
  • Maternity leave
  • Reassignment to a vacant position
  • Job restructuring

Philadelphia Employers Claiming Undue Hardship

In order to demonstrate undue hardship, an employer must demonstrate cost and operational impacts that would impair normal business operations and budgets.

New Philadelphia Pregnancy Poster Requirement

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) released a new Protecting Pregnant Employees posting that informs employees of their right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Employers must provide the posting to all new and existing employees by April 20, 2014.

The GovDocs Research Department has confirmed with the Philadelphia Human Resources Compliance Department that the posting is required for Philadelphia employers, in spite of language in the ordinance suggesting the posting is optional.

City Posting Compliance

GovDocs monitors more than 50 cities in the U.S. for required workplace posters – more than any other provider in the industry. If your compliance program needs City Postings, contact us today to see how GovDocs can help you achieve complete posting compliance.

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EEOC Doubles Fines for Posting Violations

Effective April 18, 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is nearly doubling the fines it can levy against employers who do not adhere to its posting requirements. Employers now face a fine of $210 per posting violation, an increase of 91 percent over the previous fine of $110.

The EEOC is required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 to adjust fine levels for inflation as determined by fluctuations in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The EEOC reported that in the last ten years, 2010 saw the highest level of EEOC notice posting violations with 114 charges being leveled against employers.

EEOC Posting Requirements

The EEOC requires every employer, employment agency, labor organization, and joint labor-management committee controlling an apprenticeship or other training program covered by Title VII, the ADA, or GINA to post the EEO is the Law notice “in prominent and accessible places where notices to employees, applicants, and members are customarily maintained.”

The notice outlines which employee classifications are protected against job discrimination, including race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, equal pay, disability and genetic information.

About the EEOC

The EEOC enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Employers are required to post notices describing the Federal laws prohibiting job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The EEOC enforces:

GovDocs Unlimited Guarantee for Bulletproof Posting Compliance

Employers enrolled in the GovDocs Update Program can rest easy. GovDocs protects our customers’ locations from posting violation fines with the first-in-the-industry Unlimited Compliance Guarantee.

As long as the location is enrolled in one of GovDocs’ qualifying subscription-based posting compliance programs and have displayed the postings automatically provided by GovDocs, the employer is covered for all notice posting violations, with no monetary limit.

Since 1999, no GovDocs customer enrolled in our Update Program has been fined for posting violations.


Learn more about worry-free posting coverage from GovDocs.

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Could Your Accent Get You Fired?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15% of the American workforce is foreign born, meaning that 23.9 million individuals legally employed in the U.S. may speak English with what is considered as a “foreign accent” by native American-English speakers.

Employees Face Workplace Discipline for Speaking English with a “Foreign Accent”

American workers whose first language is one other than English face many challenges in addition to learning a new language including facing disciplinary situations in the workplace. For example:

  • A FedEx driver was terminated in 2012 because an Iowa weigh station worker complained about the FedEx driver’s Russian accent, which the weigh station worker deemed too difficult to understand.
  • One Arizona teacher, born in Mexico, claims she was told by school district officials that state policy prohibited her from teaching English to her students because of her accent. She has filed a complaint of workplace discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Is a Foreign Accent Grounds for Termination?

It depends.

The EEOC includes “accent” as a protected class in its National Origin Discrimination guidance, which states:

National origin discrimination involves treating people (applicants or employees) unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not).

The EEOC forbids discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring and firing; however, (and this is a big “however”) an employer can require an employee to speak fluent English if fluency in English is necessary to perform the job effectively according to the EEOC.

Any claim of discrimination based on accent would have to prove:

  • The position does not require fluent English to be performed effectively; and/or
  • The employee’s accent is not an issue and the worker is generally understood within the context of the work environment and work assignments.

3 Lessons for Employers after Double-Whammy ADA and GINA Court Case

In the first settled case of its kind, a U.S. employer was found in violation of both the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fabricut, Inc., a distributor of decorative fabrics, will pay $50,000 to settle a disability and genetic information discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibit

ing employment discrimination. This is the first lawsuit ever filed by the EEOC alleging genetic discrimination.

Here are three key lessons employers should remain mindful in terms of hiring, promotion, and termination policies.

­1. Employers: Ask No Family Medical History Questions.

Employers should be sure they are not requesting information regarding family medical history at any time during hiring process or employment.

When Rhonda Jones’ temporary position at Fabricut was coming to an end, she applied for a permanent job. She received a preliminary offer from the company for permanent employment, contingent on pre-employment screening. The court ruled that Fabricut violated GINA by asking Jones questions about her family medical history during a post-offer, pre-employment medical examination.

“Employers need to be aware that GINA prohibits requesting family medical history,” said David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC.

GINA restricts employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing such information. GINA was signed into law in 2008, and took effect in 2009. Title II of GINA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or applicants based on their genetic information. GINA also restricts employers from requesting or obtaining genetic information, which includes any information about an employee or applicant’s family medical history.

2. No Loopholes for Third Party Medical Providers.

Requesting family medical history through a third-party medical provider or examiner violates GINA.

After making Jones an offer of permanent employment, Fabricut sent her to its contract medical examiner, Knox Laboratory, for a pre-employment drug test and physical. As part of the physical, Jones was required to disclose disorders in her family medical history.

EEOC Regional Attorney Barbara Seely. “Although GINA has been law since 2009, many employers still do not understand that requesting family medical history, even through a contract medical examiner, violates this law.”

Note: GINA does not prohibit health insurers or health plan administrators from obtaining and using genetic test results in making health insurance payment determinations.

3. Increased Enforcement Puts Employers’ Policies in Spotlight.

The EEOC is launching a coordinated investigation and enforcement effort as part of its Strategic Enforcement Plan across the spectrum of equal employment law, which includes genetic discrimination. Although this case is considered the first one settled under GINA, it also brought to light violation of the ADA.

As part of a physical examination on Jones, Knox Laboratory concluded she suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Jones’ personal physician countered that Jones did not have CTS, but Fabricut rescinded its job offer based on the findings of Knox Laboratory.

In addition to the GINA violation, the EEOC alleged that Fabricut violated the ADA’s prohibition against discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities (or perceived to have disabilities) when it rescinded Jones’ employment offer based on the belief that Jones had CTS.

In addition to the $50,000 settlement, Fabricut will post an anti-discrimination notice to employees, dissemination of anti-discrimination policies to employees and providing anti-discrimination training to employees with hiring responsibilities.

Has it been a while since you’ve updated your labor law postings? Now would be a great time to make sure your employees have access to the most current workplace postings ­and save 20%. Order our convenient Federal-on-One poster that contains all postings required for U.S. employers. It includes the EEOC It’s the Law anti-discrimination posting.