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Monday
Nov212016

ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Nov. 20-26, 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 11/20/16 we learned that Texas Roadhouse ended the sexual harassment suit for $1.4M. Yes, everything is bigger in TX! The suit had been brought on behalf of female servers and hostesses alleging that the male manager subjected female employees – even teenagers! - to unwelcome touching and quid pro quo requests for sexual favors. That is bad enough, right? Wait for it. There were numerous complaints starting in 2007, but the manager wasn't fired until 2011 after camera footage of him touching a teenage employee. The post has more details, including the judge's reaction and warning.

TAKEAWAY: When there is a complaint, investigate it – don't play ostrich. Not only do you endanger your employees, you put yourself and your business at risk for a huge liability.

The post on Monday 11/21/16 noted that 7 Eleven was sued by the EEOC for disability discrimination. The suit alleges it did not provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers at a warehouse and distribution center. Casey was a stocker; his doctor put him on short-term restrictions for a disability. He asked for a temporary transfer. 7-Eleven told him that since it was not due to an on-the-job injury, there would be no accommodation. For the cherry on the cake, it then fired him after he was going to be absent for 3 days. The post details additional allegations in the suit.

TAKEAWAY: Know the law and your obligations under it – including whether or not you must try to accommodate disabled employees. Don't just stick your head in the sand or say no.

In the post on Tuesday 11/22/16 we asked: Are you courting a wrongful discharge suit? What does that mean, you ask in return? It means that need to know what questions to ask or things to look for before terminating an employee. The list includes a history of WC claims, refusing to follow orders to violate applicable law, filing wage-and-hour complaints, refusing a polygraph test, and more in the post. If any of these questions leads to an affirmative response, be careful so as not to "encourage" a retaliation suit.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure any adverse action to be taken against an employee, including termination, is supported by a valid, legal basis. Period.

The post on Wednesday 11/23/16 told us this ADA violation (and settlement payment) could have easily been avoided. Hmmm. The employer agreed to pay $60,000 in damages and back pay to a former hair stylist to settle a disability discrimination suit brought by the EEOC. Nora worked at a salon owned by Regis Corporation. Nora was a claustrophobic and could not work in a confined space between others. She was first assigned to a more open station, then moved to a space between others. She continually asked to be moved back, to no avail. The post details what happened after Nora had to go to the ER.

TAKEAWAY: If there is an easy way to accommodate a disabled employee, just do it. Don't make a big deal out of it. The big deal could end up being a big headache for you down the road.

In the posts on Thursday 11/24/16, here and here, Happy Thanksgiving wishes were sent to you and your family and friends.

TAKEAWAY: Sometimes it is appropriate to just say thank you. This is one of them.

The post on Friday 11/25/16 told us a nightclub illegally fired a disabled employee after an unlawful medical inquiry based on HIV hearsay. Ugh. So what happened? After hearing from someone that the employee was HIV-positive, the employer required the employee to provide medical proof that she was not HIV-positive and when she did not, it fired her. The owner has no proof that even if she were HIV-positive it would be dangerous, but just acted. More details are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Before you act, make sure you are acting on something that is real and that needs to be acted on – otherwise you could cause yourself trouble that need not be there.

Finally, the post yesterday 11/26/16 asked: What is immediate and appropriate? At least in the context of the employer's obligation to act after investigation of an harassment complaint. This of course depends on the facts of each situation, but the list includes that the action be quick, be proportional, and the other items listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Fulfill your legal obligation to act if an investigation determines harassment occurred – delay or no action could lead to lability for you.

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