2023 is in full swing. While everyone is abuzz about ChatGPT taking over the world, a newly divided Congress is finding its sea legs and state capitols are eyeing new regulations. Agencies and courts have taken up hot-button labor and employment matters, from noncompetes to biometric privacy. And not to be left out, the NLRB and the FTC have taken aim at employment contracts and severance agreements.
What will this all mean for employers? There are challenges for sure, but with planning they are manageable. We take a look at the top trends that will shape labor and employment law in the months to come.
DISCRIMINATION AND EEO ISSUES
Given trends from last year and public messaging from top enforcers, we anticipate an increase in harassment and discrimination litigation, particularly for class-based claims.
In its recently released 2022 Financial Report, the EEO signaled its plan to strengthen enforcement around systemic discrimination. The Agency heralded several victories including obtaining $29.7 million in monetary benefits for victims and collecting over $28 million in damages from 10 lawsuits asserting systemic discrimination last year. Enforcers also recovered a combined $403 million from the Agency’s top 10 settlements of 2022 (nearly doubling rates from the previous year). Highlights include an $18 million settlement with Activision Blizzard over sexual harassment and pregnancy-bias claims and $8 million from Circle K stores over disability and pregnancy discrimination issues.
Even more, the EEOC’s enforcement hike has considerable support from the White House. The President’s proposed budget requests $481 million for the EEOC – a 5.7% increase over its 2023 allocations. While this money is unlikely to materialize in full, it does underscore the growing political support for anti-discrimination and harassment enforcement.