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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- July 6 - 12, 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 7/6/14 was about sex and sleepovers and betrayal adding up to an $11.6M discrimination verdict. Against whom? None other than Microsoft! Short story: senior sales exec was hounded for 2 years by his boss (also his ex-girlfriend) who had help from the Marketing Director, a Regional Sales Director, the National Sales Director, and the VP of US OEM Windows, Office & Servicer sales. No, this is not a soap opera but real life and the TX jury made Microsoft pay. The steamy details are in the article.

TAKEAWAY: Employers must make sure there is no discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace and that those involved in any of those acts be taken to task (before a jury does the same to the employer).

On Monday 7/7/14 we talked about the fact that following a document destruction policy can result in sanctions – and making sure you understand why. It is acceptable – and usually recommended – that companies have in place a document destruction policy – including electronic communications. But when litigation occurs, or is even threatened, the policy must be put on hold and other actions taken to preserve what might be relevant. In the spotlighted case, the employer didn’t do what it should have and the court slapped its wrist – monetarily.

TAKEAWAY: Follow your policies, even on document destruction, until it becomes important to deviate. Consult an employment law attorney to be sure which is which.

Next, on Tuesday 7/8/14 we posted about how an employer should handle stupid discrimination complaints. Complaints are made because the employee feels she has been wronged somehow – do not let that molehill grown into a mountain before action is taken (talking to the complaining employee to get to the root of the issue and understand from where it comes, find out what the employee expects the employer to do about it, thank the employee for speaking with the employer and let him/her know any resolution (if possible), and document everything for the file(s).  

TAKEAWAY: There is rarely a stupid complaint about anything – employers should investigate each and every employee complaint and take action where warranted.

On Wednesday 7/9/14 the post was about 5 on-site investigations with 5 unhappy endings (and how you can learn from them). This post covered 5 situations that occur in the FMLA arena: asking for too much information; moving a full-time employee to part-time; not notifying the employee of his/her FMLA rights (and penalizing him/her for something that would have been covered); not telling the employee of certification rules; and remembering that the FMLA applies to those acting “in loco parentis” as well as actual parents.

TAKEAWAY:  Employers must know the law – be it FMLA or other – or be reminded of what they did wrong when hit with an administrative charge or lawsuit and, possibly, large monetary settlement or verdict.

On Thursday 7/10/14 we talked about how history + pretext can = trial. Huh? In short, and as the author says, a history of workplace racial imbalance might undermine your legitimate non-discriminatory reason for a promotion (or other) decision.

TAKEAWAY:  Hiring, promotion and termination decisions should be based on legitimate non-discriminatory reasons – make sure they are the REAL reasons before a court tells you otherwise.

The post on Friday 7/11/14 talked about 5 important questions for your business after the recent Hobby Lobby decision. Yes Virginia, religion CAN affect business more than you think. Given that the Supreme Court just gave closely-held corporations the right to act like persons in some cases, it is important for corporate entities to think about these 5 questions. 1) Should you declare your religion in the hiring process? 2) Should you declare your religion to existing employees and customers/clients? 3) Might your group insurance rates increase if you decide to deprive your female employees of comprehensive reproductive health care? 4 and 5 are in the post.

TAKEAWAY:  Supreme Court decisions can touch you every day in ways you might not even think of. Make sure you have an employment attorney who knows these things and helps you work in your business’ best interests.

Finally, the post yesterday 7/12/14 was about how not to get caught in an EEOC discrimination nightmare.  What is one of the areas in which an employer must be especially careful (given the EEOC’s renewed push)? Religious discrimination. It can touch many facets of an employee’s job. But remember that any accommodation must still be reasonable – and that can differ as do the circumstances. Reasonableness also comes into play in accommodating for a disability (so does undue hardship). The post also touches on age discrimination and a short overview of the EEOC process.

TAKEAWAY: The easiest course for an employer to follow is one that bases decisions on legitimate business needs and looks at how it can accommodate reasonable requests from employees. Those who don’t take this path find (EEOC) thorns strewn along the way.

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