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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- June 29 – July 5, 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 6/29/14 was about the fourth disability discrimination suit filed against Auto Zone.  Yes count ‘em, 4! This suit accused Auto Zone of having an attendance policy that did not take into account disability-related absences.  The post also notes that earlier in 2014 a federal appeals court upheld a $415,000 verdict against Auto Zone in another disability discrimination and retaliation suit. Some employers never learn.

TAKEAWAY: The law is there for a reason – employers must abide by it or be dogged by agencies charged with enforcement of those laws.

On Monday 6/30/14 the post was a reminder about ethnic discrimination. The suit there was against Hispanics United. What happened in this case where both sides are Hispanic? A Cuban employee asked for and was denied a promotion and that she and her husband were paid less than other employees because they are not Puerto Rican; suit resulted.

TAKEAWAY: Employers must keep in mind that it is discrimination can take many forms and often there is a thin line separating what is legal from what is not.

Next, on Tuesday 7/1/14 we posted about the fact that an inability to sit for prolonged periods can be a disability under the ADA. In this case it had an easy fix – get the employee an ergonomic chair – but the employer never did that.  

TAKEAWAY: Remember that the definition of disability is broad so the easiest and best thing for employer to do is jump straight to the accommodation process.

On Wednesday 7/2/14 the post was an employee versus contractor redux. Why do government agencies care if people are properly classified? Because erroneously classifying someone as a contractor can affect their benefits and protections, including family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance; further, it generates substantial losses to the federal Treasury and the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as state unemployment insurance and workers compensation funds. Classification can also affect the employer’s liability for the person’s action and the employee’s protection from employment discrimination. The post lists common factors used in making the classification determination. It is also a good idea to talk to an employment attorney since this has legal ramifications.

TAKEAWAY: It is SO important that those working for you be classified properly – it can be very expensive for you as the employer if they are misclassified so just get it right from the start.

On Thursday 7/3/14 we posted about whether a CNN employee was fired for flamboyant attire or another reason. Coincidentally (?) the employee’s discharge came right on the heels of his supervisor finding out he was gay. The employee claims in his suit that his supervisor told him “he should not wear his black or yellow mariachi suits in the newsroom, ‘because it was too flamboyant for a male in our department.’” The supervisor also allegedly said that the employee’s attire “might make him a better fit in the ‘entertainment or makeup department.’” The lawsuit asserts that the “flamboyant” comment was rooted in a gay stereotype and seeks $60 million.

TAKEAWAY:  If your workplace has a dress code, make sure it is based on job necessity. If there is no dress code, don’t let managers make one up based on stereotypes or personal biases.

The post on Friday 7/4/14 was short but sweet: enjoy the Independence Day holiday!

Finally, the post yesterday 7/5/14 was about whether travel time is compensable. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act comes into play here and provides for when travel time is or is not covered. Some situations discussed in the post are travel from home to work (including who owns the vehicle in which the employee is travelling), travel time when in a carpool, out-of-town travel, and overseas travel. For all of these and other common scenarios, read the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers should not assume that all travel by employees is either compensable or not compensable – there may be some of both. Rather than short-changing the employee (and possibly being subject to fine/penalty), you should know the rules of this road.

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