EEOC Sues Con Edison for Allegedly Requiring Job Applicants to Submit to Medical Exams and Provide Genetic Information

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On September 27, 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – filed a complaint against Consolidated Edison Inc. (Con Edison or Con Ed) that “accused the utility of improperly requiring job applicants to submit to medical examinations and provide genetic information of family members before being hired,” according to a report from Reuters.

Reuters reports that the complaint filed by the EEOC in a Manhattan federal court claims the hiring practices of Con Edison – which “provides electric and gas service in New York City and neighboring Westchester County” and “employed roughly 15,000 people at year end” – violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

Reuters reports the EEOC claimed Con Edison discriminated against three employees with disabilities: “Con Ed moved one to a lower-paying job, reduced the hours of a second, and caused a third, who had epilepsy, to lose his job by preventing him from returning to work after a car accident, causing him to exhaust his sick leave.” Con Ed told Reuters they had “productive discussions with the EEOC” and were confident the matter would be resolved.

Reuters reports the EEOC “is seeking compensation and other relief for successful and unsuccessful job applicants subjected to medical examinations, and permanent injunctions against disability discrimination and the collection of genetic information.” The case is EEOC v Consolidated Edison Co of New York Inc, No. 17-07390, filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. The complete report from Reuters is available here.

According to the EEOC, disability discrimination occurs when an employer or an entity covered by the ADA treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because he or she has a disability. The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or applicant with a disability unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense – “undue hardship” – for the employer.

Title II of GINA makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information, prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions, restricts employers and other entities covered by Title II from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information, and strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information. The EEOC enforces Title II of GINA that deals with genetic discrimination in employment.

Enacted by Congress on November 21, 1991, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 amended several of the statutes enforced by EEOC – both substantively and procedurally – so parties could obtain jury trials and recover compensatory and punitive damages in Title VII and ADA lawsuits involving intentional discrimination. In addition, the 1991 Act added a new subsection to Title VII that codified the “disparate impact” theory of discrimination.

In January 2017, ESR News reported the EEOC released detailed breakdowns of the Enforcement and Litigation Statistics for the 91,503 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received in fiscal year (FY) 2016. In FY 2016, disability made up 30.7 percent of all discrimination charges filed with the EEOC while GINA made up 0.3 percent. The complete statistics are at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) reminds readers that allegations alone made in a complaint are not proof that a business or person violated any law, rule, or regulation.

ESR Whitepaper on EEOC Criminal Record Guidance

On April 25, 2012, the EEOC issued updated “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” that changed the way U.S. employers perform criminal record background checks on applicants. The complete EEOC Guidance on the use of criminal records by employers is available at www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers employers a whitepaper written by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen entitled “Practical Steps Employers Can Take to Comply with the EEOC Criminal Record Guidance” to help them avoid any potential discrimination charges. The complimentary whitepaper is available at www.esrcheck.com/Whitepapers/EEOC-Criminal-Record-Guidance/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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