In the cases of Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc. and Murphy v. United Parcel Service, the Supreme Court holds that the question of an individual's disability requires evaluation of his or her impairment in its "mitigated" or corrected state. To be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the individual must show that he or she is substantially limited in performing a major life activity even with the use of medications or assistive devices. As a practical matter, this means that individuals taking medications to offset the effects of a condition like diabetes or epilepsy may not be able to secure ADA protection if they cannot show that they were substantially impaired while in a mitigated state.
In Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp., the Supreme Court agrees with EEOC's position that a plaintiff can go forward with his or her Americans with Disabilities Act case despite having filed an earlier claim for disability under the Social Security Act alleging he or she is unable to work.
In Gibson v. West, the Supreme Court endorses EEOC's position that it has the legal authority to require that federal agencies pay compensatory damages when EEOC has ruled during the administrative process that the federal agency has unlawfully discriminated in violation of Title VII.
EEOC revises the federal regulations governing the federal sector EEO process (29 CFR Part 1614) to now permit EEOC administrative judges to issue decisions which are virtually final on federal complaints. EEOC also requires all federal agencies to establish an alternative dispute resolution program for federal employees with EEO complaints.
EEOC resolves EEOC v. Tanimura & Antle, a class action sexual harassment lawsuit against one of the country's largest lettuce growers. In a consent decree, the defendant pays female farm workers nearly $3 million as a result of suffering sexual harassment and retaliation. This is EEOC's largest lawsuit against an agribusiness concern.
In October, the Commission issues an Enforcement Guidance on Remedies Available to Undocumented Workers, explaining that undocumented workers are entitled to the same remedies available to all other workers for violations of laws enforced by the EEOC except in the limited circumstances where the award would conflict with the purposes of the immigration laws.
EEOC adopts a Comprehensive Enforcement Program (CEP) to maximize the effective implementation of the National Enforcement Plan policies. Under the CEP all facets of the Commission's work are integrated, from outreach to the development of charges, resolution and litigation. In practical terms this means, for example, that attorneys will participate in investigations and investigators may assist at trials.
District offices launch a National Mediation Program relying on mediators from alternative dispute firms, volunteer judges, lawyers, ADR professionals and EEOC's own staff trained in mediation. In its first year, the agency conducts approximately 6,000 successful mediations proving the program to be effective and much faster than the conventional charge process. EEOC has one of the largest mediation programs run by any one single organization.
EEOC expands its outreach efforts by hosting a series of Commission meetings outside of Washington, D.C. to discuss persistent workplace problems such as low wage earners (Houston); national origin and language issues (Chicago) and wage discrimination (Philadelphia).
EEOC implements a Small Business Initiative to improve customer service and expand education, outreach, and technical assistance to the mid and small business community. In each district office, an EEOC staffer is designated as the small business liaison to answer questions and to provide information to this group.
The Commission's Office of Federal Operations collects a record $9.8 million in monetary benefits in addition to restored leave and other non-liquid benefits for federal employees who are the victims of discrimination.