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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- Oct. 4 - 10, 2015

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 post on Sunday 10/4/15 asked if whether a new mother who acts as a surrogate gets PDA accommodation? How did this arise? A woman sued Marriott after being denied lactation breaks (because she was a surrogate) after giving birth. She sued for violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. More details, which help explain a bit more, are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: It may or may not be new ground, but a surrogate still gets pregnant and gives birth, so the safest thing for employers is to treat them as any pregnant employee or new mother would be treated.

In the post on Monday 10/5/15 we learned that a staffing company which assigned temps on the basis of sex will pay $800,000 to settle lawsuits. The EEOC filed suit, alleging violation of the ADA and Title VII, based on the employer’s assignment of female employees to a known hostile work environment. The other 4 bases of the suit are in the post and they are ugly. Conciliation failed so the EEOC filed suit. This settlement comes 4 years into the litigation.

TAKEAWAY: Sex will almost never be a basis to discriminate among employees (or applicants); national origin will not be a basis. Don’t act on those bases unless you too want to pay out a lot of your hard-earned money.

In the post on Tuesday 10/6/15, we talked about more women joining a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment at Ford plants. A pending class action suit alleges sexual harassment and discrimination at 2 Ford Motor Company plants in Chicago – 29 more women just joined the suit. Here’s the reason why just one joined the suit: “I’ve experienced management, supervisors asking me to take pictures of my boobs and send it to them, telling them that they are horny, they want to have sex with me.” More details are in the post. Ford’s statement did not deny the allegations; rather, it said that after investigation, it took appropriate steps in response including discipline if warranted.

TAKEAWAY: If there is a complaint, investigate it and act if warranted.  If the allegations continue, and by more people, investigate again and take appropriate action. Do not bury your head in the sand.

The post on Wednesday 10/7/15 was about construction contractors refusing to hire an applicant because of dyslexia – and paying $120,000 to settle a suit. So what happened? The applicant had 15 years’ experience as a carpenter, various training certifications and a clean safety record; he also had dyslexia. The potential employers refused to hire him after they learned about the dyslexia, saying he’d be a safety risk. More details are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Without a request for accommodation, assume the applicant (or employee) can do the job and move ahead as you normally would.

The post on Thursday 10/8/15 noted that FMLA is not a magic word – but employers DO need to know how its obligations work.  You hopefully know that an employee (or applicant) does not have to specifically mention the FMLA to invoke its protections – anything that can be deemed to put the employer on notice will suffice.

TAKEAWAY: I can’t say it better than in the post, “If the employer fails to treat the request as one for FMLA leave, the employer assumes all of the risk … If, however, the employer treats the request as one for FMLA leave, the employee assumes all of the risk ….” Make the right choice.

The post on Friday 10/9/15 reminded that if contesting unemployment, be sure you have been fair and uniform. Why? A discharge for what is deemed willful misconduct will bar the employee’s receipt of unemployment benefits. Here, Donald’s wife was sick so he started work early to be able to care for her later. His shift changed; he refused to do a delivery as it would interfere with him caring for his wife. He was fired and found eligible for UC benefits. Why? Because another driver who had refused the same assignment (due to a pregnant wife) had not been fired.

TAKEAWAY: If you claim someone committed willful misconduct, make sure that his/her (in)action was treated the same way as other people (not) doing the same thing.

Finally, the post yesterday 10/10/15 was about an ex-employee suing Red Robin for racial discrimination and wrongful termination – NOT a tasty situation to be in. The employee was fired after questioning the hiring practices, specifically relative to people of color. At the time she sued, she had been working there 11 years in various locations and was managing this latest location. The allegations include her intended hiring of an African-American being overruled by an assistant manager saying “we don’t hire n******* in this store”. More juicy details are in the post. Red Robin has not commented on the suit other than by saying it prohibits discrimination in hiring and in the workplace.

TAKEAWAY: Retaliation is also illegal. ‘Nuf said.

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