New EEOC Guidance on Retaliation and New Law Combatting Age Discrimination in Hollywood

Recently, we received reports that a new bill in the California Senate has been approved. This Bill AB 1687 will prohibit age discrimination in Hollywood. Once the law takes effect, it will permit actors, actresses and directors to request that their ages and birthdates be removed from sites that include their information for employment purposes. The Bill was asked for by the Screen Actors Guild and gained favor with the democrats in the state senate. We believe that making it harder for casting directors to know an actor’s age will make it less likely to that they will discriminate against the actors. See our dedicated age discrimination blogs here.

Also, today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued the final version of its updated guidance on workplace retaliation issues. This is the first revision of that policy in 18 years. The revision expands the scope of protected employee activity to go with the courts’ interpretations of the law. The revision Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues replaces its 1998 Compliance Manual section on retaliation. The guidance also addresses the separate “interference” provision under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits coercion, threats, or other acts that interfere with the exercise of ADA rights.

The EEOC also issued two helpful guidance in the form of a question and answer pamphlet summarizing the guidance and a Business Fact Sheet the summarizes the main pints in simple language. See this guidance and this summary.
Most importantly, the guidance breaks down what it considers “retaliation.” Retaliation takes place when employers take a materially adverse action as a consequence of an applicant or employee asserting his or her rights protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. Asserting EEO rights is called “protected activity.” There are also other types of retaliation such as an employment policy that itself is unlawful as it discourages employees from exercising their EEO rights.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibit employers from discriminating because an employee belongs to a “protected class.” Under Title VII, it is unlawful for employers to discharge or discriminate against individuals in their compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Similarly, under FEHA, an employer may not because of the race or national origin of a person treat that person differently in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment. (Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(a).) One item in which the two laws are different is that Title VII applies to those who employ at least 15 individuals in a year, while FEHA applies to California employers with at least 5 employees in a year. Most recently, California passed laws expanding this reach to enable most lawsuits to be filed against smaller employers.

If you believe that you, or another employee, suffered an employment law matter related to age discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, prompt action to preserve your rights is vital since the statute of limitation is a short one year. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.