- This year, the EEOC gave the first "Freedom to Compete" Awards, recognizing private and state and local employers who had made strides towards an inclusive workforce. The awards were given in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
- On July 8, the Commission approved a plan to realign the field office structure. The plan was designed to reduce labor costs, particularly at the management level, and flatten the overall management structure. The reorganization more accurately aligned resources with ongoing charge activity and promoted greater uniformity across the field. It did not require closing any office, and, in fact, two new offices - Mobile and Las Vegas - were added. Twenty-three district offices were reduced to 15. Repositioning did not result in any EEOC employee losing his or her job or having the job downgraded.
- Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans over Labor Day weekend, and, for the second time in four years, an EEOC field office was destroyed. The New Orleans staff of approximately 50 fled the flooding of the city and ended up throughout the United States. Within three days, the EEOC confirmed that all employees survived and were safe. A new EEOC New Orleans office opened a few blocks from the old office just three months after Katrina devastated the city. The EEOC was among the very first federal agencies to reopen for business in downtown New Orleans. For more information about the EEOC's response to Hurricane Katrina, see the sidebar.
- The Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs produced a 40th anniversary video: Benchmark on a March to Justice.
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EEOC at 40: Benchmark on a March to Justice
- The EEOC developed the IT capability to enable businesses which are required to file EEO-1 reports annually to update and submit these required reports online.
- The EEOC issued a Spanish-language version of the Youth@Work materials in June.
Notable Supreme Court Decision
- The Supreme Court held in Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi that the ADEA authorizes recovery in disparate impact cases and permits the employer defense that the challenged action was based on a "reasonable factor other than age."
Notable EEOC Trial Victories
- In EEOC and Tamayo v. Harris Farms, Inc., No. F-02-6199 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 21, 2005), a jury awards approximately $1 million, including $500,000 in punitive damages (subject to a $300,000 cap), to a former farmworker woman who was subjected to egregious sexual harassment, including rape by her supervisor and retaliation. This case was the first federal jury trial in the United States brought on behalf of a woman farmworker.
- In EEOC v. EchoStar Communications Corp., No. 02-CV-00581 (D. Colo. May 6, 2005), a jury awarded over $8 million to a blind applicant who was denied a reasonable accommodation, in violation of the ADA. The jury award of compensatory and punitive damages was subsequently reduced in accordance to the ADA's statutory cap of $300,000.
- In EEOC v. Dial Corp., No. 3:02-CV-10109 (S.D. Iowa Sept. 29, 2005), a federal judge ruled that a pre-employment strength test for production operator positions used by the defendant at its meat packing plant had a disparate impact against women, and was illegal under Title VII. This ruling followed a jury trial which found that the test was intentionally discriminatory after the extent of the disparate impact should have become apparent to the company. The court awarded approximately $3.38 million to be shared among 52 class members, all of whom also received job offers with rightful place seniority.
Notable EEOC Resolutions
- The Commission settled EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. (N.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2005) for $40 million for a class of African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and women who were subjected to race, color, national origin and sex discrimination in all aspects of their employment and applications. A nationwide consent decree established the settlement fund and also required the defendants to create an office of diversity and hire 25 full-time diversity recruiters to recruit minority applicants. The decree also established percentage benchmarks for the selection of African-Americans, Asians, Latinos and women into sales associate and managerial positions.
- EEOC v. Ford Motor Co. (S.D. Ohio June 16, 2005) settled for $8.5 million for approximately 3,400 current and former African American Ford employees who took the company's Apprentice Training Selection System test. The EEOC alleged that the defendant used this written test for skilled trades apprentice positions that had a disparate impact on African American applicants. Besides the monetary relief, the consent decree provided that an industrial organizational psychologist selected by the parties would design and validate an apprenticeship selection process consistent with the EEOC's Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures and with professional standards. The settlement also provided that Ford select 280 class members for apprentice positions.
- Rivera Vineyards, Inc. (C.D. Cal. June 14, 2005) settled for $1.05 million for a class of Latino farmworkers, mostly women, who were subjected to sexual harassment, including rape, touching, groping, breast grabbing, leering and derogatory comments. The EEOC also alleged that a class of farmworkers who were fired and not rehired after opposing the harassment, were denied job opportunities. Besides the monetary relief, the consent decree provides for reinstatement and certain hiring goals for women applicants into non-traditional job positions.
Significant EEOC Guidance
- The EEOC, the National Council on Disability and the DOJ jointly issued two fact sheets, Q&A for Mediation Providers: Mediation and the ADA and Q&A for Parties to Mediation: Mediation and the ADA.
- The EEOC also issued:
- a report, Practical Advice for Drafting and Implementing Reasonable Accommodation Procedures Under Executive Order 13164 to assist executive branch agencies in instituting procedures for processing reasonable accommodation requests under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- a fact sheet, Q&A: Association Provision of the ADA, explaining the ADA provision prohibiting discrimination based on a known relationship or association with an individual with a disability.
- Questions & Answers About Blindness and Vision Impairments in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act" (updated in 2014).