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Updated April 28, 2016

EEOC Sues Halliburton For Breach of Mediation Agreement

Company Failed to Honor Agreement to Hire Applicant to Resolve Disability Discrimination Charge, Federal Agency Says

JACKSON, Miss. (April 13, 2016) - Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. and Boots & Coots, LLC, an oil and gas exploration services company with headquarters in Houston, violated federal law by failing to comply with obligations imposed by a mediated settlement agreement of an employment discrimination charge, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on March 31.

According to EEOC's suit, Halliburton entered into a mediation settlement agreement with EEOC and the applicant on Feb. 4, 2014, resolving a disability discrimination charge against the company. Among other relief provided, Halliburton promised to rehire the applicant into a position subject to successful employment screening. Despite the applicant's compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement, Halliburton has since failed to hire him for any position. EEOC contends that Halliburton's actions constitute breach of the settlement agreement. Further, such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

EEOC's suit (EEOC v. Halliburton Energy Service, Inc. and Boots & Coots, LLC d/b/a/ Boots and Coots Services, Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-00233-CWR-FKB, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi) seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay plus interest, compensatory damages, and an injunction against future discrimination.

" Typically, court intervention is not necessary when parties reach a voluntary agreement," said EEOC Birmingham Regional Attorney, C. Emanuel Smith. "This litigation follows numerous efforts at voluntary compliance."

EEOC Jackson Area Office Director Wilma Scott added, "When an employer refuses to honor the promises it made in a voluntary settlement agreement, EEOC will take action to enforce that agreement."

According to company information, Halliburton owns hundreds of subsidiaries, affiliates, branches, brands and divisions throughout the United States and worldwide, employing approximately 70,000 people. Halliburton provides oil and gas exploration services and related services, both onshore and offshore. Additionally, Halliburton provides oil and hazardous material spill containment resulting from oil well fire emergencies, and provides restoration services to return oil and gas wells to production.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

Bank of America Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Deaf Employee Was Denied a Sign Language Interpreter, Federal Agency Charged

LAS VEGAS (April 6, 2016) -Bank of America, N.A. will pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to EEOC's suit, Bank of America unlawfully denied a reasonable accommodation to a more than 12-year, deaf employee, who worked at a Bank of America vault location in Las Vegas. Rather than communicate with the employee using a sign language interpreter, the employee's managers and supervisors used other ineffective communication methods, such as writing notes, which were not understandable to him.
Discriminating against an employee or job applicant due to their disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in September 2013 (EEOC v. Bank of America Corporation, et al., Case No. 2:13-cv-01754-GMN-VCF) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, Bank of America also agreed to injunctive relief to ensure a dedicated accommodations team properly engages in the interactive process and effectively provides reasonable accommodations to deaf employees. Bank of America agreed to train its accommodations team on the requirements of the ADA as it pertains to deaf employees. The company also agreed that its training would address issues involving the specific communication needs of deaf employees on the job and that each deaf employee will have different communication abilities and methods available to them.

" Employers must be mindful of the diversity that exists in the deaf community in order to ensure deaf employees are properly accommodated," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District. "Rather than take a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, employers need to ensure individualized accommodations are explored and implemented to respond to the specific needs of the requesting employee."

Richard Burgamy, local director for EEOC's Las Vegas Local Office, said, "We continue to see employers fail to properly engage in the interactive process. We encourage employers to provide all employees with disabilities appropriate reasonable accommodations to ensure they enjoy the equal employment opportunities to which they are entitled."

EEOC Launches Online Charge Status System

Agency Continues To Expand Digital Services

WASHINGTON (March 23, 2016) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the launch of key services that improve service to the public. EEOC's services now include: 1) providing individuals who have filed a charge of discrimination the ability to check the status of their charge online, and 2) providing a portal for businesses to receive and upload documents and communicate with EEOC.

" We are pleased to announce the launch of online access to charge status information," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "This service provides immediate benefits to the public by allowing access to charge information online and on demand. Moving forward, EEOC will continue to use technology to streamline the charge system and improve the way we serve the public."

The new Online Charge Status System allows individuals who have filed charges of discrimination with EEOC to track the progress of their charge. The system provides up-to-date status on individual charges as well as an overview of the steps that charges follow from intake to resolution. Additionally, the system provides contact information for EEOC staff assigned to the charge.

With the new system, charging parties can access information about their charge at their convenience, while allowing EEOC staff to focus on investigating charges. Companies or other entities that have charges of employment discrimination filed against them also can access the system and receive the same information on the status of the charge.

The Online Charge Status System is available for charges filed on or after September 2, 2015. It is not available for charges filed prior to this date or for charges filed with EEOC's state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies. The system can be accessed at http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge_status.cfm or by selecting the "Check the Status of a Charge" button on www.eeoc.gov.

Additionally, all EEOC offices now use a Digital Charge System, in which employers transmit and receive documents regarding discrimination charges through a secure online portal. Originally piloted last summer, the Digital Charge System provides for faster transmittal of documents, as well as notifications to the employer and EEOC staff to improve communication with EEOC.

EEOC receives over 150,000 inquiries from individuals with questions about workplace discrimination and approximately 90,000 charges per year, making its charge system the agency's most common interaction with the public. EEOC's Digital Charge System aims to improve service to the public, ease the administrative burden on staff, and reduce the use of paper submissions and files. Private and public employers, unions and employment agencies will use the Digital Charge System, instead of transmitting paper documents.

For federal sector complaints of discrimination, EEOC launched an online system called the Federal Sector EEO Portal (FedSEP) for federal agencies on October 1, 2015 to upload hearing and appeals documents.

EEOC will offer assistance through its toll-free number at 1-800-669-4000 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820 or ASL Video Phone 1-844-234-5122) for those who do not have Internet access to retrieve the information provided in the Online Charge Status System or who need language assistance in one of the 150 languages for which we offer translations services.

Justice Department and City of Fort Worth, Texas, Settle Lawsuit Alleging Disability Discrimination

The Justice Department announced today that the city of Fort Worth, Texas, has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that Fort Worth discriminated against persons with disabilities when it refused to allow a group home for individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction to operate in a single family residential zone in the city.

The lawsuit, filed in April 2015, alleged that the city violated the Fair Housing Act when it issued multiple citations and fines against a four bedroom group home, known as Ebby’s place, in which residents who have successfully completed at least a 30-day drug or alcohol treatment program live together to reinforce and encourage their mutual commitment to recovery. After receiving the citations, Ebby’s Place requested a zoning variance that would allow it to operate, which the city council unanimously denied.

Under the terms of the agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth will allow Ebby’s Place to operate with up to seven residents and will rescind all the citations it had previously issued against the home. Fort Worth will also pay $135,000 to Ebby’s Place in monetary damages and $10,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. As a part of the settlement, Fort Worth also adopted an ordinance establishing a process whereby persons may seek reasonable accommodations from the city’s zoning or land use laws and practices, where such accommodations may be necessary to afford persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their housing.

The lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by Ben Patterson, who through Ebby’s Place LLC, owns and operates the group home. After conducting an investigation, HUD referred the matter to the Department of Justice. Ebby’s Place later intervened in the Justice Department’s lawsuit. Today’s agreement would also settle the lawsuit filed by Ebby’s Place.

“ The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect individuals with disabilities from housing discrimination, including discriminatory zoning practices,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We commend the city of Fort Worth for working with the Justice Department to reach an agreement that will safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities in our communities.”

“ The city of Fort Worth has cooperated in this investigation from the beginning,” said U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. “There was never any doubt in my mind that the city leaders would work with the Department of Justice to achieve the right result, and they’ve done just that.”

Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. Visit www.usdoj.gov/crt for more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces. Additional information about the Fair Housing Act is available at www.HUD.gov. Additional information about the Americans with Disabilities Act is available at www.ADA.gov.

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with a Texas YMCA to Ensure Equal Opportunities for Children with Diabetes

February 24, 2016 - The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement today with the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA, a local Texas affiliate of the YMCA, to resolve allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying a child the opportunity to participate in a summer day camp program because of his diabetes. YMCA refused to provide daily insulin injections to the child, which left him unable to attend the summer day camp program.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private camps and child care programs. Under the ADA, such entities must make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices or procedures when necessary to provide equal access to a child with a disability, unless a modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services. Absent a showing of fundamental alteration, where a parent and a child’s physician determine that it is appropriate for a non-nurse to assist a child with diabetes care, allowing a trained layperson to do so is a reasonable modification under the ADA.

“ After-school and camp programs provide a critical place for all children to socialize with their friends and learn from their peers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to aggressively fight all forms of discrimination that seek to deny children with disabilities the protections the ADA guarantees and the opportunities they deserve.”

Under the terms of the two-year agreement, the YMCA will designate an ADA compliance officer who will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the terms of the agreement. The ADA compliance officer will also be responsible for ensuring that the YMCA updates its application materials and implements the policies and procedures required by the agreement, including a non-discrimination policy. The YMCA will designate an individual at each branch who is authorized to receive and review requests for reasonable modifications; inform parents and guardians about how to request reasonable modifications; and train its staff on the ADA, including information on diabetes management. The ADA compliance officer will also review all denials of reasonable modification requests and any decision to exclude a child with a disability from enrollment.

The YMCA will also pay $10,000 to the family to compensate them for the denial of an opportunity to participate in the YMCA program. The department will actively monitor the YMCA’s compliance with terms of the agreement.

One of the largest childcare providers of school-aged children in the region, the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA serves the Arlington and Mansfield communities near Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas. Nearly 900 children participate in the local YMCA’s before and after-school programs and nearly 450 children participate in its summer camp program.

ADA enforcement is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of camps and child care programs under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov. ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint/.

Greyhound Lines to Resolve Americans with Disabilities Violations

February 8, 2016 - Under the terms of a consent decree filed by the Justice Department today, Greyhound Lines Inc., the nation’s largest provider of intercity bus transportation, will implement a series of systemic reforms to resolve allegations that it repeatedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Greyhound will pay $300,000 in compensation to certain passengers with disabilities identified by the department and will retain a claims administrator to compensate an uncapped number of additional passengers who have experienced disability discrimination.

The consent decree, pending approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, resolves the department’s complaint that Greyhound engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of violating the ADA by failing to provide full and equal transportation services to passengers with disabilities. The alleged violations include failing to maintain accessibility features on its bus fleet such as lifts and securement devices, failing to provide passengers with disabilities assistance boarding and exiting buses at rest stops; and failing to allow customers traveling in wheelchairs to complete their reservations online.

“ The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to transportation services so that they can travel freely and enjoy autonomy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Today’s agreement marks a major step toward fulfilling the promise of the ADA, and we applaud Greyhound for entering the consent decree.”

“ We are fully committed to ensuring equal access to all opportunities society has to offer, including transportation services,” said U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of the District of Delaware.

Under the terms of the agreement, Greyhound – which serves more than 3,800 destinations and more than 18 million passengers each year across North America – will compensate several classes of passengers who faced barriers because of their disabilities. Through a claims administrator, Greyhound will compensate individuals who experienced barriers based on disability during the three years prior to today’s filing. There is no cap on the number of individuals who may submit claims or on the total amount to be disbursed by Greyhound through this process. In addition, Greyhound will be required to pay a total of $300,000 among specific individuals identified by the department who experienced ADA violations. Greyhound will also pay a civil penalty to the United States in the amount of $75,000.

In addition, the agreement mandates that Greyhound implement a series of systemic reforms, including the following:
hire an ADA Compliance Manager;

  • require all employees and contractors who may interact with the public to attend annual in-person training on the ADA;
  • provide technical training to all employees and contractors on the proper operation of accessibility features of Greyhound’s fleet;
  • report every three months to the department on its compliance efforts; and
  • ensure that persons with disabilities can make reservations for travel, and lodge disability-related requests, through its online booking system.

Individuals who experienced disability-related discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound buses during the previous three years may be eligible to receive a monetary award. The claims administrator for the fund will be posted on Greyhound’s website, and on the department’s Disability Rights Section’s website at www.ada.gov following entry of the consent decree by the court. Questions about making claims should be directed to the claims administrator.

Greyhound Consent Decree