Employment Law Alert – “New” Expanded Parental Leave in Montgomery County, and EEOC’s Enforcement Priorities
November 16, 2016
Clarification on Sick and Safe Leave for Parents in Montgomery County
As most employers know, the Montgomery County Sick and Safe leave law permits employees to use leave for the following:
(1) Treatment of employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or condition or caring for a family member with the same;
(2) Obtaining medical care for him/herself or a family member;
(3) In case of a public emergency or closure of school or child care center due to the same; or,
(4) Protection from domestic violence or sexual assault.
To the extent it was unclear, in October the County Council clarified that leave could be used for the following:
(1) For the birth, adoptive placement, or foster care placement of a child, and
(2) Caring for a newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed child within one year of the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the child.
No other changes were made to the existing Sick and Safe Leave Law. While characterized as an “expansion” of the law in some news reports, the clarification is not intended to result in any new leave benefits. Employers should check their current policies to ensure they are in line with the new amendment.
EEOC Provides Plan to Enforce Civil Rights Protection
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently approved a Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for fiscal years 2017-2021. The purpose of the plan is to provide a way for the EEOC to have a “strategic impact in advancing equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination in the workplace.” Continuing its commitments from the SEP 2013-2016, the EEOC will maintain its focus on six priority areas:
(1) Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring
(2) Protecting vulnerable workers
(3) Addressing selected emerging and developing issues
(4) Ensuring equal pay protections for all workers
(5) Preserving access to the legal system
(6) Preventing systemic harassment.
Under the SEP, the EEOC will also develop and strengthen partnerships with immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers and focus on issues arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act and in relation to gender-based pay discrimination. Specifically under the emerging and developing issues priority, the EEOC will pay closer attention to complex employment relationships (e.g. temporary workers, staffing agencies, and independent contractors) and backlash discrimination against specific groups (e.g. Muslim, Sikh, or people of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent) and those perceived as being members of those groups.
The SEP was drafted and communicated before the recent election. It may be that the new Administration will tweak the focus of the agency. But for now, employers can expect that the EEOC will be looking for cases that impact these areas. They should review their employment and other work related policies to ensure alignment with EEOC priorities. It is expected that the EEOC will continue pursuing investigations of employers not upholding civil rights protections and encouraging local legal authorities to do the same.
The contents of this Alert are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact a member of the Shulman Rogers Employment and Labor Law Group or the Shulman Rogers attorney with whom you regularly work.