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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Nov. 13-19, 2016

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.

In the post on Sunday 11/13/16 we noted the EEOC sued M&T Bank for disability discrimination. What happened? Allegedly Candace had been a branch manager for a few years when she told M&T she was pregnant and would need surgery to prevent a miscarriage. She took FMLA leave (per her boss's instructions) and filed for short-term disability. During the leave, M&T told her that her positon would be filled unless he could return to work in 10 days with medical clearance. Months later, after birth and medical clearance, M&T forced her to apply for vacant positions but didn't assign her to any. The suit alleges that M&T failed to accommodate and fired her due to her disability. More details are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Treat all employees the same unless the law requires uneven treatment. That includes those who are disabled.

The post on Monday 11/14/16 told us that yes, your boss could legally be allowed to body shame you. As noted in the post, "if a boss of any gender decides they simply don't like their employees' bodies – all genders, fat or thin – and wants to make it known, there's not much that can be done from a legal standpoint in most parts of the country." Horror stories abound, including some in the post. As long as all employees sharing the same protected characteristic are treated the same (for example, men and women are shamed due to weight), there is probably nothing illegal (unless it falls under some other type of harassment or discrimination).

TAKEAWAY: While it may be legal, it's probably not in your company's best interests for managers to body-shame employees.

In the post on Tuesday 11/15/16 we reminded you that effective 12/1, the annual salary below which overtime must be paid (for 40 or more hours worked) increases to $47,476. Yes there is at least one lawsuit pending (to stop the increase), but so far the law is on pace to go into effect 12/1.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure you have in place what you need to comply – including proper job classifications and pay rates. Contact an employment law attorney for assistance if needed.

The post on Wednesday 11/16/16 noted the EEOC sued an employer of intellectually and developmentally disabled employees for disability discrimination. Yes, really. Work Services., Inc. employed 6 intellectually and developmentally disabled employees to work on the production line at a turkey processing plant in SC. Allegedly the company discriminated against them by denying them wages or paying them less than other employees or denying them benefits. The post details more of the alleged illegal conduct, including restricting their freedom of movement and calling them names relating to their disabilities. Sadly (or perhaps good for them), this came to light in 2014 when a NYT journalist visited the plant while researching the back story for an earlier , similar case taken to trial by the EEOC.

TAKEAWAY: Disabled employees can and do perform their jobs not only adequately, but quite well. Don't take advantage or illegally discriminate against them due to their disability – the cost may be very high.

In the post on Thursday 11/17/16 we noted an ex-employee accuses media company Emmis of sex discrimination. Kristine is a former digital content manager for the media company. She alleges that producers of a local sports radio station sexually harassed her and made derogatory gay jokes. To make matters worse, she alleges that the employer took no action after she reported the harassment. The post details more of the alleged harassment, including escalating conduct after disciplining one of the harassers.

TAKEAWAY: Have a policy on harassment and discrimination and enforce it – even against managerial-level employees. Limited enforcement will lead to liability and damages for your company.

The post on Friday 11/18/16 told us Tyson Foods to pay $1.6M to settle a discrimination case. That's not chicken feed! The settlement proceeds will be divided among about 5700 rejected job applicants from 6 facilities. This arises out of allegations that Tyson violated a federal order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, race or ethnicity. Tyson also agreed to other things detailed in the post. Tyson denied liability.

TAKEAWAY: Fool me once, ok; fool me twice, not ok. Don't be the one who gets slapped with a hefty damages award (or high settlement amount) after your discriminatory practices come to light. Follow the law from the start.

Finally, the post yesterday 11/19/16 noted a deputy filed a discrimination complaint against the sheriff and county officials (and this one is close to home). Jessica is a deputy sheriff with the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office. She filed charges with the EEOC, again accusing the Sheriff of sexual harassment. Yes, again. She alleges it began innocently when she was an intern in the office and escalated over time. For fear of her job, she ignored his comments and advances. Details are in the post, including graphic stories he told her. Apparently the County Commissioners asked the sheriff to resign beginning in August.

TAKEAWAY: Nobody should be fearful of reporting harassment or discrimination – foster an environment where transparency reigns and no harassment or discrimination is tolerated.

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