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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- Nov. 2 - 8, 2014

Below is a review of the posts (on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) from the past week.  You can check out the full posts by clicking on the links.

The week started with the post on Sunday 11/2/14. We talked about the FMLA and in-laws. As in, can someone take FMLA leave to care for an in-law? The simple answer? Maybe.  The law itself does not require leave to care for an in-law. However, an employer may allow that type of leave if it chooses (and then must do so for every employee).

TAKEAWAY: Know what is and is not required under laws that impact the workplace.

The post on Monday 11/3/14 asked how you advertise open positions. It also pointed out one employer who did it the wrong way (and got sued). This Maryland employer allegedly used only word-of-mouth to recruit in an attempt to avoid recruitment and hiring of black job applicants because of their race and female applicants because of their sex. As if that wasn’t enough, the suit alleged that 2 Hispanic female employees were subjected to requests for a sexual relationship, sexual comments, offensive comments based on an association with persons of another race, derogatory comments about Hispanic persons, and unwelcome displays of graphic sexual images. More? Yep. It is also alleged that the employer retaliated against the employees (by discharging them) for opposing the harassment and discrimination.

TAKEAWAY:  Mistakes happen, even egregious ones. But don’t compound things (even if a mistake) by blatantly violating the law. You will get caught (as did this employer).

On Tuesday 11/4/14 the post served as a reminder that being fired due to pregnancy is illegal; having to train your replacement is just rude. After learning Lynsey was pregnant, it hired a non-pregnant person to replace her and then fired Lynsey.  To make matters worse, Lynsey’s last duty was to train her replacement. Then because the knife wasn’t’ in deep enough, the company hired yet another non-pregnant employee. The EEOC filed suit on Lynsey’s behalf.  

TAKEAWAY:  If you take adverse action against a pregnant employee, it better not be because of the pregnancy.

The post on Wednesday 11/5/14 brought us an employment law quiz where you got to be the judge for 5 scenarios. I won’t repeat them here, so just go to the post. The answers are there too.  

TAKEAWAY:  Everyone should know the various rights and obligations of the parties under employment-related laws.

The post on Thursday 11/6/14 told us that employers can’t discriminate on the basis of what they don’t know. Some background: the employee received 4 disciplines during her 13-month employment history before she refused to pray the Rosary with a resident. She told a coworker that it was against her religious beliefs but didn’t explain to anyone what those beliefs were. The resident complained and the end result was discharge of the employee. She was told the discharge was for not praying the Rosary with the resident. After suit, a federal court said that the employer had no obligation to rescind the discharge when it did not know of the employee’s beliefs at the time it decided to discharge her.  

TAKEAWAY:   If management has any knowledge of an employee’s sincerely-held religious beliefs, action taken based on those beliefs may violate the law and land the employer in hot water.

The post on Friday 11/7/14 reminded us of that “regarded as” prong under the ADA (and the legal liability that can follow). Here the employer made a conditional offer of employment. The applicant then mentioned a prior back injury as part of his post-offer medical exam. The employer’s own doctor cleared him in October 2011 so he gave notice to his current employer and made plans to move across several states for the new job. Then things changed; the employer began asking for more medical information and tests and, 2 months later, withdrew the offer. The EEOC brought suit on his behalf on the basis that the employer regarded him as having a disability.

TAKEAWAY:  If someone does not ask for accommodation (directly or indirectly), do not assume they need it. Period.

Finally, the post yesterday 11/8/14 asked when hair length became a job necessity for a beer delivery driver. In short, a beer distributor was sued by the EEOC for not accommodating religious beliefs and refusing to hire someone because of his religion. The applicant is a Rastafarian and, due to that, has not cut his hair since at least 2009. When he refused to cut his hair for the position, he was not hired.

TAKEAWAY:  If you cannot accommodate religious beliefs, at least have a valid job-related reason.

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