Week in Review

May 18, 2015

Staffing agency pays $800K to end alleged Title VII, ADA violations
A Chicago area staffing agency has agreed to pay $800,000 to resolve two employment discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC. The lawsuits alleged multiple violations of Title VII and the ADA. Specifically, the EEOC asserted that the company engaged in the following unlawful conduct:
assigned female employees to a known hostile work environment;
retaliated against 2 female employees who reported that supervision was making sexual advances towards them;
categorized jobs as "men's work" or "women's work" and assigned employees accordingly;
asked impermissible pre-employment medical questions in violation of the ADA; and
refused to assign employees to certain jobs because of their race and/or national origin.
The court-approved, three-year consent decree settling the lawsuits provides for $800,000 in monetary relief; $70,000 will go to the sexual harassment and retaliation victims, and $730,000 will be distributed evenly to a class of female employees who were not considered for certain work based on their sex.

House passes bill for penalty-free early retirement plan
On May 12, 2015, the House passed H.R. 2146, which would allow Federal law enforcement offers, Federal firefighters, customs and border protection officers, and air traffic controllers to make penalty-free withdrawals from governmental plans upon the attainment of the age of 50. The "Defending Public Safety Employees Retirement Act" would amend Code Sec. 72(t)(10), which currently allows qualified public safety employees, defined as police, firefighters, and emergency medical service employees, to take distributions from their defined benefit plans at age 50, instead of age 55, without incurring a 10% penalty tax on early distributions from qualified retirement plans. H.R. 2146 therefore expands the list of those eligible for relief from the penalty. It also would be applicable not only to defined benefit plans, as currently provided in the Code, but to defined contribution plans.

ACA Compliance -Plans must cover the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods with no cost-sharing

To be compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care plans must cover, without cost sharing, the full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methods for contraception, according to recently-released frequently asked questions from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury (the Departments). The FAQs specified that there are currently 18 distinct methods of contraception for women and all must be made available without cost-sharing. Health plans are allowed to use reasonable medical management techniques and impose cost-sharing to encourage the use of specific services or FDA-approved items within the chosen contraceptive method, the Departments noted. For example, a plan may discourage use of brand name pharmacy items over generic pharmacy items through the imposition of cost sharing. The FAQs also touch briefly on the coverage of several other preventive care services such as breast cancer susceptibility, and preventive colonoscopy.

More than one third of employers less likely to interview applicants they can't find online, survey shows
Avoiding a professional online presence may be hurting your chances of finding a new job. More than one third of employers (35 percent) say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online, according to CareerBuilder's annual social media recruitment survey. The national survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between February 11 and March 6, 2015 and included a representative sample of more than 2,000 full-time, U.S. hiring and Human Resources managers across industries and company sizes. Social media recruitment is definitely on the rise with 52 percent of employers using social networking sites to research job candidates. This represents a 9 percent increase over 2014, and 13 percent over the 2013 data. "Researching candidates via social media and other online sources has transformed from an emerging trend to a staple of online recruitment," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. "In a competitive job market, recruiters are looking for all the information they can find that might help them make decisions. Rather than go off the grid, job seekers should make their professional persona visible online, and ensure any information that could dissuade prospective employers is made private or removed." Hiring managers in information technology and financial services are the most likely to use social networks to screen candidates (76%); retail had the lowest share (46%).