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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- June 15 – 21, 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.

First up, the post on Sunday 6/15/14 was about new VAWA guidance asserting limited LGBT rights in the workplace. Know this: the Justice Department’s guidance specifies LGBT protections under the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act has explicit non-discrimination rules for employment. It covers sexual orientation and gender identity.

TAKEAWAY: Employers may think they are familiar with all laws affecting the workplace and their employees, but they should now add VAWA to that list.

On Monday 6/16/14 our post reminded everyone that USERRA still applies to the workplace and when it is forgotten, a lot can be at stake. Penske learned the hard way, settling the suit for $85,000 in lost wages for its failure to reemploy a service member.

TAKEAWAY: In the face of increasing harassment and discrimination suits, employers must still know and follow the requirements of USERRA as relates to the members of the armed forces.

Next, on Tuesday 6/17/14 we posted about saying goodbye to precedent and hello to forced speech.  Huh? This was another move by the NLRB in response to the issue of whether companies must allow the use of their email system for employees to engage in protected activities (especially when they are contrary to the employer’s interests). In 2007 the NLRB said the answer was “no”. So in a case arising out of CA, where the ALJ applied that 2007 rule, the NLRB General Counsel has appealed and is asking the Board to overrule its precedent and adopt a new rule requiring employers to treat non-business protected activity (including unionizing) the same as business activity (like talking about ongoing work for a customer).  The deadline for briefs from the public was 6/6/14, so stay tuned for further happenings in this issue.

TAKEAWAY: Stay tuned and be ready to open your system if and when such a change of precedent comes down, but don’t hold your breath. Remember the (failed) poster rule? 

On Wednesday 6/18/14 the post was about how engaging in the good-faith interactive process can be a true win for the employer. What was the big thing? The employer consistently offered to accommodate the employee’s alleged disability even though she failed to provide authentic doctor's notes after multiple requests by the employer. The court said that it was the employee who made the process break down, not the employer, so it was not liable for a failure to accommodate. (It also helped that the alleged sexually offensive comments were sporadic, few in number, and not blatant.) 

TAKEAWAY: If possible, an employer should try to accommodate an employee, even if the legal necessity to do so is in doubt.

On Thursday 6/19/14 we talked about the fact that states can be the subject of sexual discrimination suits too. In this case, the State of Hawaii allegedly subjected an employee to sexual harassment (lewd and unwelcome comments and intimidation by a co-worker) and retaliation (employment termination for complaining about the harassment).

TAKEAWAY:  Remember that states are employers too; they are not exempt from laws preventing discrimination and harassment.

The post on Friday 6/20/14 was about the fact that men can be the victims of discrimination (and even win suits). Ordinarily one thinks that plaintiffs will be female, but that is not always so. In this case, a group of men just won a lot of money on their sex discrimination and equal pay claim (making for an unhappy employer I’m sure!). While the case was in Britain, the same things apply here in the US.

TAKEAWAY:  Laws against discrimination and harassment protect both sexes.

Finally, the post yesterday 6/21/14 was about how a DIY estate plan – or having no estate plan – can have unintended consequences. In this case from FL, the person used a pre-printed legal form for a Will. Problems cropped up (including distributions to beneficiaries she did not name) when things not dealt with by the form became problematic; further, as the court noted, the amount saved by the person in using the pre-printed form was far outweighed by the costs of litigation in working through all of the issues resulting from the use of the form.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t take legal matters into your own hands. Contact an attorney who knows the type of law that is at issue. Do it for yourself and your family.

References (8)

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    Austin Law Firm, LLC - York, PA Lawyer - Homeowner, Civil Litigation, Corporate Law - ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- June 15 – 21, 2014
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    Austin Law Firm, LLC - York, PA Lawyer - Homeowner, Civil Litigation, Corporate Law - ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- June 15 – 21, 2014
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