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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- Nov. 15 - 21, 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 11/15/15 asked is telecommuting is a reasonable accommodation. The answer will vary form case to case depending on the essential functions of the job and whether or not telecommuting would cause an undue hardship for the employer. The post talked about a recent federal case that dealt with this issue (and how the court analyzed the situation and ruled).

TAKEAWAY: Don’t rule out telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation without exploring it under the circumstances in the case before you.

On Monday 11/16/15 the post was about tattoo-ism: where body art meets employment discrimination (and whether the employer can dictate personal appearance). We are talking about visible tattoos, not those under clothing. Tattoos may not be the image an employer wants to project, so the question is whether or not it can dictate an appearance code to its employees. The answer is (you guessed it!) “it depends”. On whether there is a reason for the body art or if it is just personal preference. More on this is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: While employers have an interest in protecting their image, they also must not discriminate against employees or applicants who, for religious or other legally-protected reasons, have visible tattoos. Talk to an employment attorney before making on adverse decision based on visible tattoos.

In the post on Tuesday 11/17/15 we talked about 7 former McDonald’s employees suing over age discrimination (job terminations for being over age 40). Other claims are included in the suit too.  The complaint alleged that first the employer tried to get them to quit by marginalizing them. It didn’t work. Then, when the store underwent a remodeling, younger employees were transferred to another location but others, including the plaintiffs, were not but were told they could reapply when the store reopened. When at least one of the plaintiffs asked to be transferred, the manager said she wanted only “puro gente joven” – only young people. Further ageist comments by the manager are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: There might be a special sauce on the sandwiches, but the way these employees were allegedly treated sounds far from special. Employers should not take adverse action based solely on age and certainly should not say that’s why they are doing something.

The post on Wednesday 11/18/15 was about what managers can learn from Nasty Gal’s pregnancy discrimination suit. What is Nasty Gal? An LA-based clothing retailer. Suit was recently filed alleging the company illegally fired 3 pregnant employees last year along with a male employee about to embark on paternity leave. The company denies the allegations (see the post), noting the terminations were around the time of a restructuring and layoffs of up to 10% of staff. So maybe it’s mere coincidence that those let go comprised every expecting or recent parent on the staff? This is just not good for a female-led company.  

TAKEAWAY: Do not take adverse action against an employee based on her being pregnant or having just given birth (or a male employee taking paternity leave). Just don’t do it.

The post on Thursday 11/19/15 asked, Would your company pass this discrimination test? The question arises in the aftermath of the EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch decision. The post talks about a study that was done on racial discrimination. Fake resumes were sent out – with White-sounding and Black-sounding names. Those with White-sounding names got 50% more callbacks for interviews. More findings of the study are in the post.

TAKEAWAY:  Ensure that all employment decisions, including (not) hiring, are based on measurable, job-related characteristics and reasons; otherwise, your company might end up on the other end of a lawsuit.

The post on Friday 11/20/15 was about narrowing the gender pay gap – EEOC suits under the Equal Pay Act. Yes, the EEOC continues to crack down on equal pay violations. Federal law requires that men and women be paid the same amount for doing the same work. What must be shown to prove a violation is in the post. However, a wage differential can be justified by seniority, merit, quantity or quality of work, or a factor other than sex. Employees have 2 years (or longer if the violation was “willful) to file suit – this is much longer than the statute of limitations to initiate administrative action under Title VII. Also, any disparity in pay cannot be cured by lowering males’ wages, but only by raising the females’ wages (in addition to other potential damages).

TAKEAWAY: To avoid a pay disparity suit, employers should periodically review the pay of all persons performing comparable work to ensure that any wage differential is due to something other than gender.

Finally, the post yesterday 11/21/15 gave us 6 things to research before buying a condo. Some of these items apply equally to a single home in a planned community. Why do we set apart condos (and detached homes in planned communities)? Because they are subject to legal documents that set forth obligations (and rights) of both the homeowners’ association and the owners (you, the potential buyer). So what types of things should you look at before you buy? The property itself. The budget (which must be disclosed according to PA law). The owner occupancy rate. Other things are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: The legal documents governing life in a condominium (or detached homes planned community) can provide many benefits to homeowners. However, they also put many burdens and obligations on owners, so know before you buy – let an attorney experienced in this area of law review the documents and explain them to you.

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