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Wednesday
Jul062016

ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – July 3-9, 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 7/3/16 we followed-up a prior post and noted the US Soccer Federation defends against gender discrimination & equal pay allegations. Now remember that although this is playing out in the media, it is occurring at the EEOC. The Federation asked the EEOC to dismiss the charges, saying the pay disparity is based on factors other than gender, including that there are collective bargaining agreements in place and that US Soccer supplements the female players’ salaries. More details on the defenses are in the post.                                          

TAKEAWAY: There is usually more than one side to a suit and this case is no different. While it plays out, employers should remember that any disparity in pay between men and women should be based on (and provable by) a valid, legal basis other than gender.

The posts on Monday 7/4/16, here and here, wished you a Happy Independence Day and asked that while you enjoy yourself, you remember from where our freedoms came.

TAKEAWAY: Enjoy our holidays, but remember why we have them.

In the post on Tuesday 7/5/16, we noted a suit claiming failure to accommodate a FMLA leave request & failure to advise of FMLA rights. Oops?!? This case came out of Western PA. The suit was filed in early May alleging that in August 2015, Joseph had headaches and he had to miss work. The company president allegedly told him she’d take care of his staff while he was out sick. Then, in direct contrast, the president started to harass him for not doing the things she said she’d do in his absence. After requesting but not being approved for FMLA leave, in September he learned through others that he’d been terminated. More details are in the post.

TAKEAWAY:  There is probably more to this than appears in the quick article; if not then it seems a no-brainer. However, to prevent your company from being the next defendant, make sure to respond properly to all requests for FMLA leave and not take adverse action against anyone to whom the FMLA might apply.

The post on Wednesday 7/6/16 taught that Prime Inc. will pay $3M to settle a sex discrimination suit. Ouch is right. Prime is the 20th largest carrier in the US, so one would think it would know how to comply with applicable law. Apparently not. The EEOC sued, alleging that Prime’s policy that female drivers could only be trained by female trainers acted to deny women driving jobs based on gender. While Prime agreed to settle, it denied the allegations and said that at least some in the trucking industry were behind the policy (which it discontinued). Go to the post for more details.

TAKEAWAY: While the policy was well-meant – to prevent male trainers from sexually harassing female truck operators – it was still based on gender and therefore violated the law. Employers’ good intentions will not necessarily win the day.

In the post on Thursday 7/7/16 we asked should you pay off your mortgage early (and things to consider). The question matters even for those not close to retirement who, with low interest rates, can continue working and have more time to build their retirement funds. Each person should look at his/her financial goals and current interest rate.

TAKEAWAY: The media is replete with advice to pay off one’s mortgage as quickly as possible, but that is not always the best advice for you. Look at your unique situation and determine what’s best for you.

The post on Friday 7/8/16 was about an IT admin facing felony charges for deleting files under the hacking law. Employers take heed! How broad are the hacking laws? IT administrator Michael found out. He deleted files before leaving his job in 2011 and was sued for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). That law was enacted in 1986 to prevent (and enable prosecution of) malicious hacking. He was not charged with unauthorized access since, as IT admin, he had full access. Instead, he was charged with unauthorized damages based on the employer’s allegations that his file deletions were malicious and resulted in over $5K damages. More details (including him fleeing to Brazil and the US seizing some assets) are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: This case might set precedent – dangerous for employees, possibly a boon to employers. We will have to see how it plays out, but in the meantime all should be careful of actions that might possibly be connected to this law.

Finally, the post yesterday 7/9/16 noted that employers and applicants need to know what job interview questions are out of bounds. I think everyone knows that “how old are you” is an inappropriate (and illegal) question. The post mentions other areas that should not be the subject of interview questions – unless they are directly job-related (which most protected characteristics are not). One example in the post is not to ask if the applicant has children or family obligations when the intent is to find out if the applicant is available to work outside of normal business/work hours; instead, just ask what is intended.

TAKEAWAY:  Employers usually have the company’s best interests in mind, but sometimes step into quicksand with some questions – avoid that by writing down questions and sticking to them in the interview.

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