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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Mar. 6-12, 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 3/6/16, we noted that all dogs go to heaven, but can they go to work? Dogs become family members to some people; they often calm and comfort people, hence the desire to bring them to work. The ADA doesn’t talk of service dogs, so they must be looked at under the accommodation context (and as part of the interactive process). The ADA does define ‘service animal”, so that is one starting point, but it applies only to public accommodations and not employers. Tips on what an employer should do are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t just reject out of hand an employee’s request to bring his/her dog to work. Find out on what the request is based and work through whether allowing the dog’s presence may be legally required.

The post on Monday 3/7/16 was about 7 policy provisions to curb FMLA abuse. Yes Virginia, FMLA leave is an entitlement under certain circumstances, but that doesn’t mean employers have no control over it. The post lists 7 provisions that should appear in a handbook concerning FMLA leave, including that all leave requests should be in writing and medical certifications and recertifications will be required.  The other tips are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: While the employee is away (on FMLA leave), the employer … will still control the basics of the leave as outlined in the post, starting with how the leave will be requested.

In the post on Tuesday 3/8/16, we talked about 2 reasons not to forget about the ADA’s interactive process. What are the reasons? NC and WI. The states where we find the defendants in 2 recent cases dealing with the ADA interactive accommodation process. Read the post for details on the cases.

TAKEAWAY: If the employer knows of the need for reasonable accommodation, it must, in good faith, engage in the interactive process.  Period.

The post on Wednesday 3/9/16 we learned that Cessna settled a disability discrimination suit (and isn’t flying so high now). It will be paying $167,500 to 2 former employees. Read the post for more.

TAKEAWAY: Just because an employee has a disability does not mean the person cannot perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation. The employer’s first step should NOT be to take adverse action based on the disability.

In the post on Thursday 3/10/16, we moved close to home where an ex-employee accused Medical Products Laboratories of racial discrimination. James filed suit in federal court, alleging unlawful termination and discrimination based on race. He said he had excellent evals, but that a co-worker, subjected Liberian- and African-descent employees to discrimination, including doing unnecessary work. More details are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers must ensure that employees at all levels are trained in what is and is not discriminatory and told the company does not tolerate the former.

The post on Friday 3/11/16 told us the diocese settled with a food pantry coordinator fired for a same-sex union. This part of sex discrimination is the new (but now here) frontier. So what (allegedly) happened? The diocese specifically cited to her same-sex union as the reason for dismissal (which happened only after the marriage became public and mentioned the church); she sued the diocese and its former bishop. Coincidentally, the settlement came 2 days after a judge decided that 2 of her 3 claims could proceed to a jury trial. More details are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: The dismissed claim was based on employment discrimination against an ecclesiastical entity; this was one of a few (if not the only) situations where religion can trump normal employment discrimination statutes and jurisprudence.

Finally, in the post yesterday 3/12/16 we learned that Two Hawk Employment Services was dues by the EEOC for disability discrimination. Two Haw is a temp agency; it allegedly asked an applicant illegal medical questions during the application process and, to top that, refused to hire the applicant based on the responses. Ugh.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure you know what you can and cannot legally ask of applicant and employees relative to their ability to perform essential functions of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation. Not knowing will land you in hot water.

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