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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Feb. 21-27, 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 2/21/16, we learned of a manufacturer accused of age discrimination – it asked about age in its application form! The quick and dirty is that Seymour Midwest, a hand-tool manufacturer, picked 58-year-old Steve from an applicant pool for the position of Senior VP of Sales, asked questions (see the post) including whether he was within the company’s “ideal” 45-52 age range, then refused to hire him after getting the answers. The EEOC filed suit.

TAKEAWAY: Age almost always has nothing to do with a job (or the qualifications of an applicant or employee to do the job) – so don’t get caught up taking illegal action based on age.

The post on Monday 2/22/16 was hot, hot hot: a sex discrimination suit against Chipotle. Yes it still has problems from the E. coli outbreak. But apparently that wasn’t enough – now Chipotle is facing another suit. 3 former general managers sued, alleging wrongful termination based on sex. The women say that despite receiving similar or better performance evaluation, they were not treated as well as male GMs. The jury was made up of 3 men and 5 women. Part of the early testimony described the former area manager as saying “There sure are a lot of overweight women working here.” Other statements by or about him are in the post. Chipotle argues that the women performed poorly (well, what else did you expect them to say?)

TAKEAWAY: Few cases actually go to trial; when they do, there is often a smoking gun in the hand of the plaintiff. Employers beware!

In the post on Tuesday 2/23/16, we talked about the new way sex discrimination suits will be framed – employers pay attention! Here suit was brought by a mother claiming the insurance carrier refused to pay for her teenage son’s health care during his female to male transition. He was diagnosed in November 2014 and prescribed medications. The insurer says that services and surgery for gender reassignment are specifically excluded. The mother says that if her son had been born a boy, one of the medications would have been covered and if born a girl, the other would also have been covered. Interestingly, the suit also says that the EEOC found reasonable cause for sex discrimination.

TAKEAWAY: Employers must be aware of the minefield that surrounds gender identity, including reassignment, and take care not to make adverse decisions based on same – the EEOC now includes this under sex discrimination.

The post on Wednesday 2/24/16 gave us more hot: Chipotle lost the sex discrimination suit. In a case that went all the way to a jury trial, the verdict was that 3 former general managers were wrongfully terminated based on gender and FMLA violations. The suit claimed a regional manager treated these 3 women differently than male managers. Read the post for more details. The verdict included about $600,000 in damages – mucho caliente!

TAKEAWAY: As an employer there is a chance that illegal conduct on your part may go unchecked, but when you get caught, you will get absolutely stung – so just don’t do it.

In the post on Thursday 2/25/16 we learned (and saw) that Dorney Park offered to rehire a special needs employee after a socmed outrage. So what happened? Chris, a special-needs man, had worked at Dorney Park for 12 seasons, mostly keeping bathrooms clean. Dorney Park changed its interviews for the 2016 season – it now included various activities as listed in the post. Chris didn’t do well; in fact, he says he was told he “didn’t fit in”. Well, that hit socmed and exploded. The next day he received an offer for the 2016 season. Dorney Park’s response is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers are free to hire (and fire) to meet their needs as long as there is no legal violation along the way.

The post on Friday 2/26/16 told us that Rental Pro will pay $37,000 over age discrimination allegations as part of a settlement with the EEOC. The suit alleged that it had terminated the employment of Ronald Johnson, age 52, based on age, as the owner wanted “younger and peppier” employees and more (see the post).

TAKEAWAY: Know the protected characteristics and don’t make adverse employment decisions based in any way on those characteristics. Period.

Finally, the post yesterday 2/27/16 talked about the EEOC suing a Subway franchise for firing an HIV-positive worker. The suit was filed seeking back pay and punitive damages for the unnamed employee who was “fully capable of working and experienced in the restaurant industry”. When the employer found out he was HIV-positive, it fired him. What reason did Subway give him? Read the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers should not act without knowing the facts – if an employee cannot perform the job (with or without reasonable accommodation), then it might be legally ok to discharge that employee. But acting before knowing … BAD.

References (15)

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  • Response
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