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Monday
Jun222015

ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- Jun. 21 - 27, 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.

On Sunday 6/21/15 we talked about “Your Job or Your Daughter” is not the question anyone wants to hear (or should ask). Some of the facts here: of 132 work days, the employee left work early 54 times, arrived late 27 times, and was absent 17 days. She also had other performance issues (detailed in the post). Seems like a no-brainer to fire her, right? Wrong. She was caring for an ill child and had notified her supervisor of that fact. His response? To fire her, saying, among other things, “I need someone who does not have kids who can be at the front desk at all times.” More (stupid and illegal) comments from the supervisor are in the post. She sued under the ADA for associational discrimination. Her case went to a jury. Some tips on what the employer could have done differently are also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Look at performance and document problems and attempts to help improve it. If the employee is not disabled, no accommodation is necessary to help improve performance. DO NOT stray into territory unrelated to performance.

The post on Monday 6/22/15 was about a former Honda employee’s second lawsuit, including retaliation. Cliff, an African-American, was hired in 2008, promoted 3 times, and in late 2013 complained internally about race discrimination. He filed a charge with the EEOC in November 2013, alleging race discrimination, and was fired January 2014. This suit alleges that he was fired for complaining about the discrimination.

TAKEAWAY: As we’ve said before, even if the underlying suit has no merit, employers must be careful not to take action against the employee for initiating the suit – retaliation has its own legs in a court of law.

In the post on Tuesday 6/23/15, we talked about an employee suing Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for race discrimination. Aneesha said that she was mocked for being black and her pronunciation of certain words, that a doctor once asked her if she eats chicken and watermelon, and that the hospital employer didn’t stop any of it. The employer has denied most of the alleged acts.

TAKEAWAY: Investigate all complaints of harassment or discrimination and take action if and when appropriate. Do not retaliate against the employee who filed the complaint. Period.

The post on Wednesday 6/24/15 asked whether your company should allow pets for Take Your Dog to Work Day (which fell on 6/26 this year). So did you? Some of the questions to ask for next year include whether or not to let employees bring pets to work, legal implications (including differentiating pets from service animals), and what should be included in a pet policy (yes, you need a pet policy if you intend to allow pets in the workplace). The answers to those questions, along with other Q&A, are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Having a pet at work can give an employee the warm fuzzies, but it can also cause problems for other employees and for the employer. Make sure to think it through in both business and legal terms before allowing pets in the workplace.

The post on Thursday 6/25/15 confirmed that hiring a newly-licensed professional and then immediately firing her after finding out she’s pregnant is a big NO NO. The EEOC alleges that an employer in Georgia committed this error. April had been employed for about 2 weeks and then was fired 2 days after the company found out she was pregnant. And, to make matters worse, when she asked the reason for termination, the company told her she had deceived it by not disclosing the pregnancy during the interview.

TAKEAWAY: Do not ask about pregnancy unless it is job-related; treat pregnant employees and applicants like all others unless the person asks for something different (and then consider what your legal obligations are in the circumstances).

The post on Friday 6/26/15 was about a problem of recruitment or employment when a border patrol agent spied on female employees in the bathroom. Yep, this happened in the US. A male border patrol agent allegedly filmed women for about 9 months and then told officials the cameras were to catch agents using drugs. Additional details are in the post. The agent has since been indicted and placed on non-work status. Apparently the indictment came after the Border Patrol launched a recruitment drive for more female employees, necessary due to the increased numbers of women and children crossing the border. The question is whether the incident was a problem with recruitment or instead one in the employment realm. Current and former female Border Patrol agents talk of different (read: less favorable) treatment due to their gender.

TAKEAWAY: Outlier incidents that break the law can, and do, happen everywhere, but there is a problem bigger than that if they are merely a symptom in a much larger scheme or issue of discrimination or harassment due to a protected characteristic.

Finally, in the post yesterday 6/27/15, we talked about potential liability to an employee for third-party harassment or discrimination. Your employee is being harassed by a customer or vendor; that party doesn’t stop even though your employee asks. Finally, your employee complains to HR; later, the harassment continues and your employee resigns and sues. Are you liable? Quite possibly.

TAKEAWAY: Employers may well have a duty to prevent harassment of and discrimination against their employees not only by co-workers, but other invitees too, so training as to what is and is not allowable behavior or action is even more important.

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