The EEOC has recently updated its What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws to include a section on Retaliation and Interference.

The update to EEOC’s guidance reviews anti-retaliation protections under the federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The updated guidance provides some reminders for employers in the COVID-19 context:

  1. Current employees (including full-time, part-time, probationary, seasonal, and temporary), job applicants, and former employees are protected by the anti-retaliation provisions of the EEO laws. In addition, anti-retaliation protections apply regardless of an applicant’s or employee’s citizenship or work authorization status.
  2. Retaliation includes an employer’s action in response to an activity protected under the EEO laws that could deter a reasonable person from engaging in protected activity. However, usually, retaliation “would not include a petty slight, minor annoyance, or a trivial punishment.”
  3. An employee who has engaged in protected EEO activity may still be subject to discipline for legitimate reasons if the employer is acting based on non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory reasons that would otherwise result in discipline.
  4. The ADA prohibits not only retaliation for protected EEO activity but also “interference” with an individual’s exercise of ADA rights, such as asking for a reasonable accommodation.

These considerations under EEO laws which are always good to remember, are especially important as employers cope with unique situations with accommodation requests and high tensions in the workplace due to COVID-19.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor changes in COVID-19 guidance and regulations impacting the workplace.  If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work or any member of our COVID-19 team.

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Photo of Cepideh Roufougar Cepideh Roufougar

Cepideh Roufougar is a Principal in the San Francisco, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Ms. Roufougar is Co-Leader of the California Advice and Counsel Resource Group. She advises and counsels management in all areas of labor and employment law, with a focus…

Cepideh Roufougar is a Principal in the San Francisco, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Ms. Roufougar is Co-Leader of the California Advice and Counsel Resource Group. She advises and counsels management in all areas of labor and employment law, with a focus on identifying practical solutions to help ensure compliance with state and federal law. Ms. Roufougar positions herself as a strategic partner when providing advice and counsel about litigation avoidance, employee management issues, implementing disciplinary actions, and collective bargaining issues. Her ability to see the big picture clearly and understand her client’s businesses in emotionally charged and highly complex disputes has helped her clients financially and prevented litigation. Her clients rely on her to guide them through both short-term and long-term planning to achieve their unique goals and strategies.

Ms. Roufougar is an experienced trainer and presents seminars on a wide range of subjects, including: leave management and reasonable accommodations; preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation; implementing and sustaining disciplinary actions; conducting defensible workplace investigations; first-line supervisor trainings; performance management/evaluations; and wage and hour issues.

Ms. Roufougar has been successful in helping her clients prevail in numerous arbitrations and administrative appeals. She has extensive experience representing employers in labor and employment disputes. She has defended employers in employment litigation matters, including claims alleging violations of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, FLSA collective actions, and claims of harassment and discrimination. Ms. Roufougar also conducts complex workplace investigations.

Before joining Jackson Lewis, Ms. Roufougar practiced at a well-regarded local labor and employment firm and served as in-house counsel for a local public agency.