Now Start Disclosing Records Of Employer Misconduct

A federal appeals court panel this week approved publicly disclosing records of unsubstantiated misconduct complaints lodged against law enforcement authorities in New York City.

Now let’s extend that rule to employers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has long refused to disclose any details with respect to discrimination complaints filed against employers. The EEOC even hides from public view its decisions adjudicating those complaints. Many complaints in which the EEOC found probable cause the employer engaged in discrimination are quietly settled pursuant to mediation or conciliation agreements. No one is ever the wiser.

The EEOC’s secrecy rule permits discriminatory employers to avoid accountability for violating laws that ban discrimination based on age, race, sex, disability, religion, color, national origin, etc. Some nefarious corporations undoubtedly make it a cost of doing business to pay off discrimination victims.

If the public has a right to know when a police officer or firefighter is charged with misconduct, there is no justification for permitting employers who are charged with violating civil rights laws to hide behind confidentiality laws. At the other end of the spectrum, courts should stop the practice of sealing out-of-court discrimination settlements from public view.

Courts should stop sealing from the public view out-of-court settlements in discrimination cases.

Prospective job applicants have a right to make informed decisions about whether to take a job with a prospective employer that discriminates based on race or age. Members of the general public should be allowed to patronize only employers that treat their workers well.

Continue reading “Now Start Disclosing Records Of Employer Misconduct”

NLRB Expands Transparency in Workplace Investigations

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that employers can no longer automatically withhold witness statements from unionized employees who are investigated for workplace misconduct.

In Piedmont Gardens, 362 NLRB No. 139, the NLRB ruled that employers must undertake a case-by-case balancing of the union’s need for the information against “any legitimate and substantial confidentiality interests established by the employer.” In the past, employers automatically sealed witness statements, ostensibly to protect witnesses from intimidation, harassment and retaliation.  However, there was no blanket exemption for the names of witnesses. The result of the  NLRB ruling is that witness statements will be treated like the names of witnesses.

According to the NLRB:  “There is no basis for concluding that all witness statements, no matter the circumstances, warrant exemption from disclosure… if the requested information is relevant, the party asserting the confidentiality defense has the burden of proving that it has a legitimate and substantial confidentiality interest in the information, and that it outweighs the requesting party’s need for the information.”

While the board’s ruling is limited to unionized workplaces, it could have broader impact as employers adopt uniform policies to address workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.  Continue reading “NLRB Expands Transparency in Workplace Investigations”