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Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

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EEOC’s Latest Word On “Sex” Discrimination

Federal laws prohibit employers from basing employment decisions on a variety of factors, including “sex.” This term is not defined, leaving its interpretation to change and expand with social changes and court decisions. The central entity creating and applying these interpretations is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which administers and enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a variety of subsequent laws. On July 15, EEOC reaffirmed its present interpretation, in an enforcement decision in which the plaintiff claimed he was denied access to a promotion because he’s gay (Baldwin v. Foxx). The EEOC’s order includes a clear summary of the agency’s approach to sex discrimination cases:

OSHA Proposes To Expand Enforceability Of Injury And Illness Reporting Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just proposed to revise its requirement that employers prepare and maintain records of occupational injuries and illnesses as they occur – in “I&I Logs.” (I blogged about these requirements here). Employers must also post annual I&I Summaries in each workplace, and respond to survey questions if asked by OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OSHA Narrows Process Safety Management Exclusion For Retail Facilities

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted its Standard for Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (usually referred to as “PSM”) in 1992, to require extensive risk assessment and reduction efforts by facilities where a significant chemical incident might have catastrophic consequences. OSHA has made only minor technical revisions in the ensuing two decades. However, during that time OSHA has issued a series of regulatory interpretations and enforcement guidelines that affect how the Standard is implemented.

Should You Pay Your Interns?

Since it’s the middle of summer, you may have interns working in your office. If so, are they being paid for their efforts, are they receiving academic credits, or are they working to build their resumes, portfolios and connections? Some employers always pay, some never do, and some are open to negotiations based on the intern and his or her activities.

Divided Supreme Court Vacates EPA Fossil Fuel Power Plants Rule

Late in June the U.S. Supreme Court issued its latest ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to implement the Clean Air Act (CAA). This time a sharply divided Court voted 5 to 4 to vacate EPA’s attempt to regulate hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from fossil fuel-fired electricity power plants. The justices split over when during a decade-spanning, multi-phase rulemaking did CAA require EPA to calculate the costs and benefits of regulation—the Court majority ruled that this calculation should have occurred in the first round, rejecting EPA’s decision to do so later in the rulemaking sequence.

Valley Fever Endemic in Central California

Valley fever is an illness that usually affects the lungs and is caused by the microscopic fungus known as Coccidiodes immitis, which lives in the top two to twelve inches of soil. While the fungal spores may be present in soils throughout California, they are endemic in the Central Valley counties of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Luis Obispo, and Tulare.

EPA Revises Underground Storage Tank Regulations

It’s been more than 30 years since the U.S. Congress enacted national underground storage tank (UST) requirements (federal UST Law) in 1984. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published extensive UST regulations in 1988, establishing technical requirements for the following:

Avoid Workplace Violence With Info From OSHA

When the majority of people hear the word “violence” they think of physical assault. Of course we know that acts of violence go beyond the physical to include any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated, or assaulted. Every year almost two million U.S. workers report having been victimized by acts of workplace violence, yet many cases still go unreported. Workplace violence is a much bigger problem than many people realize, and it can happen anywhere at any time, and everyone is at risk.

DHS Prepares To Expedite Approval Of Chemical Facility Site Safety Plans

Late in May 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidelines under which qualifying chemical facilities can apply for expedited approval of site safety plans (SSPs) intended to protect the facilities against criminal or terrorist activity. These guidelines respond to a Congressional requirement included in amendments adopted in December 2014 to DHS’ Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS) program.

Supreme Court Expands Employers’ Duty To Avoid Religious Discrimination

Federal laws protect individuals against job discrimination based on a variety of “protected classes” of characteristics. Most represent physical characteristics, such as race, sex, and disability. In addition, however, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits a prospective employer from refusing to hire an applicant in order to avoid accommodating a religious practice that it could accommodate without undue hardship.

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