EEOC Issues New Guidance on Employer Use of AI and Disparate Impact Potential

On May 18, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued the latest federal guidance on employer use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making tools. The new guidance reinforces the EEOC’s ongoing focus on the use of AI in the workplace and serves as an important reminder to employers of potential legal compliance issues associated with the use of such tools.

The COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Has Ended—But Do the Accommodations Continue?

On May 11, 2023, the COVID-19 public health emergency ended, creating uncertainty as to employers’ continued obligation to accommodate employees due to pandemic-related reasons. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sought to address these questions through an update that it issued on May 15, 2023, to its COVID-19 technical assistance, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.”

EEOC Issues Joint Statement on Automated Systems and AI Concerns With Other Agencies

On April 25, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a joint statement pledging to enforce federal laws to “promote responsible innovation” in the context of automated decision-making and artificial intelligence (AI) systems that are increasingly being used by public and private organizations, including to make employment-related decisions.

ESG: Important New Considerations for Employers

Consideration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues is becoming increasingly important for companies when conducting business and in dealings with investors and employees. The increased emphasis on ESG poses unique and difficult challenges for companies that can have a direct impact on their financial performance and broader perception as responsible corporate citizens.

Chatbots Can Raise Unique Labor and Employment Law Risks

The launch of ChatGPT on November 30, 2022, ushered in an explosion of interest by businesses seeking to incorporate large language model artificial intelligence applications into the workplace. To capitalize on efficiencies that this technology presents, many employers have implemented or are considering the use of chatbots to serve human resource functions.

Workplace Violence: Recent Events Are Another Tragic Reminder for Employers

As has been the case too many times in the past, at least one of the recent tragic mass shootings that has been in the headlines involved a workplace shooting. Some of these horrible events may not be predictable or preventable. When an employee or former employee makes any type of threat of violence, here are some responses employers should consider taking immediately in response.

DOL Clarifies Telework Eligibility Under FMLA and ADAAA, Including Reduced Schedule Leave for ‘Serious Health Conditions’

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently released informal guidance to address some issues arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that commonly challenge employers. Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) No. 2023-1 addresses points such as how to count the number of eligible employees for FMLA and FLSA purposes when taking into account teleworkers, and the interaction of the FMLA with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).

New Whistleblower Intake Program Takes Effect for OSHA-Administered Whistleblower Statutes

On February 17, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs’ new whistleblower complaint intake pilot program (Directive 23-01 (CPL 02)) went into effect, governing complaints covered by OSHA-administered whistleblower statutes. The directive creates a national pilot program changing OSHA’s intake process for whistleblower complaints.

New Changes to Section 19 Raise Questions for De Minimis Offenses, Regulation Z

Recently enacted changes to Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (Section 19) eased the restrictions on financial institutions when hiring individuals with criminal records, but the changes left some open questions regarding (i) the “de minimis” standard, and (ii) whether the changes to Section 19 effectively amended the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Regulation Z (Reg Z), which applies to loan originators through Reg Z’s incorporation of Section 19 by reference.

New Jersey Governor Signs Temporary Worker Protections Law

On February 6, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a controversial bill known as the “Temporary Workers Bill of Rights” that seeks to equalize the compensation of temporary workers with that of regular employees, increase transparency requirements, and restrict placement fees paid to staffing agencies or firms.

EEOC Releases Comprehensive Guidance Regarding Job Applicants and Employees With Hearing Disabilities

On January 23, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a technical assistance document aimed at providing guidance on how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job applicants and employees with hearing disabilities. The comprehensive document addresses (1) when an employer may ask an applicant or employee questions about a hearing condition and how it should treat voluntary disclosures, (2) what types of reasonable accommodations applicants or employees with hearing disabilities may need, (3) how an employer should handle safety concerns about applicants and employees with hearing disabilities, and (4) how an employer can ensure that no employee is harassed because of a hearing disability or any other disability.

EEOC Hears Testimony Concerning Employment Discrimination in Artificial Intelligence and Automated Systems

On January 31, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public hearing, titled, “Navigating Employment Discrimination in AI and Automated Systems: A New Civil Rights Frontier,” to receive panelist testimony concerning the use of automated systems, including artificial intelligence, by employers in employment decisions.

District of Columbia’s New Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act Changes Definitions of ‘Harassment’ and ‘Employee’

The District of Columbia recently amended the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA) by adding a new protective status, broadening who is covered under the act. The District also modified the DCRHA to redefine how plaintiffs may prove harassment claims within the District. The new law, which took effect on October 1, 2022, is entitled the Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act of 2022 (DCHREAA).

Congress Eases Criminal Offense Restrictions for Employment With Financial Institutions

Included in the defense spending bill signed by President Biden in December 2022 is a section with key provisions for financial institutions that will ease restrictions on hiring candidates with criminal records. Section 5705 in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023, titled “Fair Hiring in Banking,” further narrows convictions that would constitute a bar to employment under Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (Section 19) absent a written waiver by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

California’s New Pay Transparency Law: Pay Data Reporting Obligation Changes for 2023

California recently enacted a landmark pay transparency law that requires employers to disclose pay ranges in job postings, joining a growing number of states and municipalities that impose such requirements aimed at improving pay equity. But beyond the pay scale requirements, Senate Bill (SB) 1162, signed in September 2022 by Governor Gavin Newsom, further broke new ground in expanding pay data reporting processes and requirements for California employers, and thus increasing employers’ compliance burden.

Supreme Court to Assess Attorney-Client Privilege When Legal and Business Advice Intertwine

The attorney-client privilege protects confidential communications between clients and their attorneys made for the purpose of obtaining or providing legal advice. In Upjohn Co. v. United States, a seminal 1981 decision addressing this topic in the corporate context, the Supreme Court of the United States noted: “[i]n light of the vast and complicated array of regulatory legislation confronting the modern corporation, corporations … ‘constantly go to lawyers to find out how to obey the law.’” This reality in part led the Supreme Court in Upjohn to reject a narrow view of the persons within a corporation to whom communications with an attorney are privileged.

South Carolina Human Affairs Commission Releases Prohibition Against Employment Discrimination Poster

On November 14, 2022, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission revised its employment anti-discrimination poster. The poster serves to inform employees and applicants of the protected classes of individuals covered by the South Carolina Human Affairs Law regarding the types of employment actions prohibited by the law, how to report discrimination, and the commission’s role in enforcement.