There was an expectation that the EEOC’s enforcement efforts would shift or decrease with the Trump administration in place. This has not been the case thus far. In fact, there was recently an uptick in EEOC lawsuit filings – 88 were filed in September 2017. In September 2016, the number was a third of that. Change may still be coming, however, as Trump has recently nominated new Republican members to serve as commissioners. Once those individuals are confirmed, the rate and focus of enforcement may shift.
The EEOC’s largest enforcement priority in 2017 was Title VII cases, but disability-related cases were very prevalent among the EEOC’s filings. Given this focus, it is a good idea to ensure not only that your HR Department understand employees’ rights and responsibilities related to disabilities, but also that you train your supervisory staff as well, so they understand the employer’s obligations when it comes to accommodation requests. This is especially important when such a request is not explicitly called a reasonable accommodation. For example, an employee may request time off to deal with an illness, but a supervisor may not realize that the request is more than a simple vacation or PTO request that cannot just be denied without further inquiry.
The EEOC has identified LGBT-related discrimination as an enforcement priority until 2021. Make sure handbooks are up to date and include LGBT individuals in your list of protected categories. Again, train your workforce, and especially your supervisory staff, so that any possible violations of the law can be caught early and rectified swiftly.