Employers Beware: New EEOC Flyer Targets Younger Employees

On July 22, 2016, the EEOC released a one-page information sheet that explains how religious discrimination impacts employee job rights. The flyer explains that it is illegal for employers to treat their employees differently or harass them based on religious practices or beliefs. Sounds informative, until you dig a bit deeper into the sheet and learn a bit about the historical context at work here.

In the past 20 years the number of religious discrimination charges filed with the EEOC has more than doubled, from 1,709 in 1997 to 3,502 in 2015, but those numbers do not tell the whole story, as there are a number of factors at work leading to that increase. When we examine the picture within the picture, the number of charges spiked dramatically in fiscal 2008-2013, going from 2,880 charges in 2007 to 3,273 in 2008 all the way to 4,151 in 2011 before gradually declining from 2012-2015. Not surprisingly, the spike in charges in the years following the Great Recession coincides with an extreme risk of layoff for EEOC investigatory agents. 

While the EEOC is charged with investigating and conciliating charges of discrimination in the United States, they are anything but a friend of employers, and have long been known to seek “target rich” sectors within the workforce. With 2016 being an election year, the new flier unabashedly seeks younger employees as Plaintiffs to keep the agents employed in a new administration. The flier is not ironic in its attempt to target younger workers, as shown in the paragraphs below.

First, the flyer itself is entitled “Youthwork,” and the title is spelled out in a kitschy “Comic Sans” font. Next, the three examples of employees subject to alleged discrimination are a) a barista on summer break; b) an “after school” grocery store cashier; and c) a student working in a clothing store. The examples themselves involve situations that are likely to come up among younger employees, and further channel activism and millennial angst and hostility towards authority. In any event, the flier unfairly singles out millennials as somehow more likely to be victims of religious discrimination when they are, if anything, more likely to be the targets of a form of [legal] age discrimination

Employers need to be aware of the EEOC’s campaign seeking younger employees as complainants of race discrimination. In order to combat this effort it is more critical than ever to include younger employees in compliance efforts to show them that your company is committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce, and that religious discrimination of any form absolutely will not be tolerated under any circumstances. This way, if and when the EEOC comes knocking on your company’s door your employees will let them know that they work in an environment of tolerance, and where a culture of compliance is fostered.

Syntrio’s Compliance Continuum is an innovative means of getting your corporate message of compliance across. We believe that the best way to connect with employees of all ages, whose attention spans are getting shorter is to keep them engaged and ensure the message gets across. We offer a vast array of short-form videos preparing the user for our entertaining, engaging and interactive training courses and keep the content fresh and custom to the needs of your business. With the EEOC seeking a new batch of Plaintiffs during a tumultuous period in American History, now is the time to keep your users informed and aware that religious discrimination will not be tolerated at your company.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with employment discrimination. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our Preventing Religious Discrimination online courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company

Discrimination Verdict of the Week: Colorado Jury Awards $14M to Employees in Race and Retaliation Lawsuit Against Trucking Company

In the latest enormous verdict handed down in a race discrimination lawsuit, Matheson Trucking in Colorado has lost a discrimination and retaliation case filed by seven plaintiffs, five of which are immigrants from Africa and Brazil. According to the lawsuit, black employees worked on one side of the warehouse and white employees on the other. Additionally, the plaintiffs testified that white staff and supervisors called the employees racial slurs including “dirty, stupid Africans.”

The jury verdict consisted of $318,000 in back pay for each of the plaintiffs, as well as $13 million in punitive damages, to be split between the seven employees involved in the lawsuit. Not surprisingly, Matheson’s attorney stated Tuesday that the company “prides itself on hiring and employing a highly diverse workforce consisting of men and women of different races and cultures” and plans to appeal the decision.

Social Media Outburst and Comments to News Articles Display Negative Publicity Towards Matheson

Although the old saying goes “any publicity is good publicity,” when your company is hit with a $14 million dollar, high profile verdict wherein your supervisors are accused of calling employees the “n” word and segregating the workplace you can imagine the public relations fallout. Indeed, across countless news articles in the past two days there are comments calling for Matheson’s closure and boycott of the private vendors for whom Matheson transports mail.

Discrimination Training Prepares Supervisors to Create an Environment that is Welcoming of a Diverse Workforce

Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse. With that diversity comes an increased desire among employees to work in an environment that fosters a positive culture towards people of all backgrounds. By providing anti-discrimination training on a regular basis to your managers and supervisors you can have them prepared to identify hot points that may be causes for concern. This preparation is the first step in preventing lawsuits and the negative reputation that comes with them. Had Matheson engaged in widespread management training there is no doubt they would not have faced the firestorm encircling the company this week.

Syntrio Provides Cost-Effective and Time Sensitive Race Discrimination Training

When reviewing the list of potential expenses for your company this year it is important to take a long-term view. Syntrio knows that training is a substantial time investment for your company. However, our cost-effective method of online discrimination training will have your managers up to speed without losing productivity. Contact Syntrio for more information and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your business!