On The Horizon: Greater enforcement of employment laws

published in McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC | December 17, 2018

By Charlie Plumb

Despite everything we’ve heard about deregulation, federal employment agencies ramped up their activity during 2018. And according to early indications, employers should expect the same trend in 2019. Here are a few examples.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

In 2018, the EEOC spent considerable effort whittling down its backlog of discrimination charges and investigations. The Commission reduced its inventory of pending charges by nearly 20%. Much of this was accomplished through aggressively pursuing settlements between charging parties and employers. During 2018, the EEOC resolved more than 40% of charges that participated in its conciliation and mediation process.

The Commission’s 2018 Performance and Accountability Report also reflected an increase in enforcement lawsuits filed against employers. And the EEOC made larger money recoveries from companies accused of employment discrimination.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

In late 2017, ICE announced an intention to “significantly increase” worksite inspections. True to its word, 2018 witnessed greater scrutiny of employers suspected of employing unauthorized workers. A few examples:

            Worksite Investigations                  +300% increase

            I-9 Audits                                              +300% increase

            Criminal Worksite Arrests              +400% increase

Lately, ICE has conducted a number of high-profile, well-publicized raids and enforcement actions against larger companies in order to deter other employers from employing unauthorized workers.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Beginning in 2016, employers were required to electronically submit to OSHA a Form 300A — an annual summary of work-related injuries, illnesses and missed days. Beginning in 2019, OSHA plans on putting the information to use. Employers with high injury rates will be targeted for comprehensive inspections. Likewise, OSHA will conduct random inspections of workplaces that failed to timely provide their Form 300A. The inspections of high injury workplaces and non-reporting employers will involve manufacturing and non-manufacturing businesses

Like 2018, companies in 2019 should anticipate greater investigation and enforcement activities by federal employment agencies.