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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Mar. 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 3/13/16, we alerted you that the EEOC now gives employees access to employer position statements (including exhibits/attachments) upon request. This is a policy change and lets employees get the actual statement rather than just a summary form the EEOC. Because of this, employers must carefully redact information and note on any exhibits or attachments that they are confidential. This change should either really help or really hurt an administrative claimant as s/he will now know what the employer is claiming (and how to counter it if possible). The policy became effective 1/1/16. What is still not part of the policy, however, is employers getting a copy of any response the employee files to the employer’s position statement.

TAKEAWAY: This policy change by the EEOC may give employees an arrow to place in their quiver, but if the employer had a valid, legal basis for any adverse action it took, it probably need not worry.

The post on Monday 3/14/16 taught that a woman sued the school board for discrimination and retaliation under the FMLA. Jill was a teacher for the county for 11 years; she says the employment ended by an illegal discharge in violation of the FMLA (and other laws). In 2014 she had some serious health conditions (details are in the post); she notified the employer and go an approved personal leave. In August she turned in FMLA paperwork but the employer did not change her leave to FMLA leave. She was discharged in October 2014.

TAKEAWAY:  Make sure to follow all the steps related to an FMLA leave – from soup to nuts – to avoid liability.

In the post on Tuesday 3/15/16, we talked about Yahoo sued over employee rankings and alleged anti-male (gender) discrimination. Gary was discharged in 2014. He said that since Yahoo reduced its workforce by more than 30% around that time, he should have gotten a 60-day notice under applicable law. That came 3 months after he had been selected for a prestigious fellowship, Yahoo executives approved his attendance, and he was in the middle of the fellowship. The suit also alleges that supervisors favored female workers and that they received preferential treatment.

TAKEAWAY: Let’s see, we have an older male who was fired when younger women were not. Did Yahoo really think this wouldn’t lead to a suit?

The post on Wednesday 3/16/16 talked about a black bartender’s firing reminding that blatant discrimination still happens. Here it was a six digit lesson for the employer. This took place in a sports bar where, as the author said, one would think “the color of your jersey tends to trump the color of your skin”. Well apparently not so. The owner of a new bar wanted employees to have a certain look to attract the clientele he wanted. A white look, with young, blond female bartenders and servers. He fired a black bartender who had apparently been hired without his knowledge. She sued. The jury award is in the post. And the owner was not subtle about it: apparently he would not shake her hand, fired her within an hour, and thereafter insisted on seeing every applicant pre-offer “to prevent the hiring of another African-American employee”. To make things worse (yes they could be), the bar closed early one night when the clientele was predominantly African-American and used a fake guest list the next night to discourage African-American customers. And there’s even more in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Everyone should know that race has nothing to do with job performance - so don’t make adverse employment decisions based on race. Just don’t do it.

In the post on Thursday 3/17/16, we learned that another Disney security worker filed suit. What is in the air there in the Mouse House? The suit by a long-time employee (24 years!) alleges discrimination or retaliation. What happened? She says she didn’t get a promotion because she is married to an African-American. She filed an internal complaint, after which she was told she could no longer work in the security division. She ended up as a custodial administrative assistant. And the internal complaint was determined to be unfounded. Go figure. More details on this and the other 7 suits are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: We’ve said it before and will again: Employers should have a valid, legal reason to take adverse action against an employee – especially when there is a protected characteristic or other legal implication on the horizon.

The post on Friday 3/18/16 dealt with an employee’s age discrimination suit that settled for $600,000. Here, Lori, a municipal employee who had filed suit against her employer alleging age discrimination, retaliation and failure to prevent discrimination will receive a $600,000 settlement AND a new job. After Lori got a preliminary layoff notice, and in response to her inquiry, she was told reassignment was not an option. However, after Lori was laid off, the employer reassigned a co-worker with less seniority to a temporary position in another office after that position’s predecessor was also reassigned. Details are in the post. So this co-worker (who got the position Lori wanted): she is also the comparator in a suit filed by the EEOC against the same employer alleging a failure to properly hire.

TAKEAWAY: Again, adverse actin should have solid legal footing – or a solid check will be written by the employer to the subject employee as happened here.

Finally, in the post yesterday 3/19/16, we learned that Rental Pro will pay $37,000 to settle a discrimination suit. Age yet again. In this suit the EEOC alleges that the employer fired Ronald, age 52, due to age, that the employer wanted “younger and peppier” employees to bring “young blood” into the company. Wrong. Now the only blood that was involved was that being wrung from the employer along with the settlement payment.

TAKEAWAY: Employers, are you listening? Age will rarely if ever be an indicator of job performance or ability, so don’t take adverse action on account of age.

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