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HB Legal: Employment Law 2014

(page 2 of 4)

Goodsill's Labor and Employment Lawyers Advise Hawai'i Employers on Trending Issues

Barbara A. Petrus, Partner
Labor and Employment Group

Q: What are the trends in employment law?

A: The number one trend relates to disability discrimination claims.  In 2013, disability discrimination was alleged in 27.7% of all charges filed with the EEOC and 39% of all merit lawsuits filed by the EEOC.  In fact, the EEOC identifies disability discrimination issues, such as reasonable accommodations and qualification standards, in its Strategic Enforcement Plan as a priority for the EEOC to address.

Q: Should employers be aware of any other disability discrimination issues?

A: Yes, significant changes to federal contractor obligations regarding disabled individuals became effective on March 24, 2014.  Many federal contractors and subcontractors are required to collect data regarding applicant and employee disability status and analyze that data as part of an affirmative action plan.  This must be done while still complying with stringent obligations regarding inquiries and the use of information related to disability status.  Future compliance reviews by the OFCCP will not only review these new affirmative action plans but will likely more critically analyze employment actions taken regarding individuals with disabilities.

Q: Why should employers be concerned about disability discrimination?

A: All Hawai‘i employers are required to reasonably accommodate employees who are qualified individuals with disabilities, absent an undue hardship.   This need to provide a reasonable accommodation often arises where the employee is having performance problems.  In fact, many federal contractors may be required to affirmatively inquire regarding the possible need for reasonable accommodation with poor performing employees with disabilities.


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