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Thursday
Oct262017

ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Oct. 22-28, 2017

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 10/22/17 we learned that a blind, deaf patron denied an interpreter wins in suit against movie theater chain. The federal court said that the theater might need to provide an interpreter to such a patron despite the cost. Why did the suit get to continue? The theater chain's past actions (as noted in the post).

TAKEAWAY: When dealing with public accommodations, you still have the obligation to try to accommodate – make sure you fulfill that obligation so as to avoid being on the wrong side of a suit.

The post on Monday 10/23/17 told us a federal court considers if funeral home must allow staff to cross-dress. Once again, the EEOC filed suit to protect what it sees as religious liberty in "the age of transgenderism". Anthony suffers from gender dysphoria; he told the funeral home employer that he would present as a woman at work. He was fired. The bases of the trial and appellate courts' rulings are interesting and in the post, with RFRA front and center.

TAKEAWAY: The US Supreme Court will ultimately have to answer this question, but until then you have to decide what side of the line you want to be on relative to your workforce (especially given that PA currently has no law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identification).

In the post on Tuesday 10/24/17 we talked about recording conversations with your cell phone: with great power comes potential legal liability. Seriously. While it's so easy to just turn on the recorder (or record both video and audio), that might not be legal in the circumstances. For example, a meeting at work. So is it legal? The answer is "it depends". The post tells us what the law is in MI as to possible criminal liability; do you know what it is in PA? (You should find out). What about civil liability? Again the post mentions MI law, but you should know PA law. And can the recorded conversation be used in court? The post says …

TAKEAWAY: Don't be trigger-happy just because you have the ability to record conversations with your handy dandy cell phone – make sure you know the law and how it might hit you if you violate it.

The post on Wednesday 10/25/17 was about 3 things to watch as Yahoo fights male employees' gender discrimination suit. The two plaintiffs say they experienced discrimination because they were men in a company that went too far to promote and hire women. They note that 83% of leadership positions at Yahoo were held by women and say it can only be intentional. Yahoo's defense is in the post – if correct, they are off the hook this time. The post also tells us things to keep an eye on as the case progresses. Also identified in the post, almost as a footnote, is that the case could set some precedents relative to the WARN Act and what must be paid out to covered employees.

TAKEAWAY: make sure there is a valid, legal reason to take adverse action against an employee. Even if you think the employee is not part of a protected group, you might find out to the contrary via a charge or suit filed against you.

In the post on Thursday 10/26/17 we read about tips for determining the right fence for you (and suggested you be alert to condo and HOA rules). More and more people each year live in planned communities – those with an Association to take care of some degree of maintenance. With that comes Rules and Regulations, often about landscaping, decorations, and even doors and fences. In addition to any municipal requirements, including permitting, whether you own a house in a planned community or are on the Board, you need to know what the Governing Documents provide as to fences. See the post for more examples and tips.

TAKEAWAY: Life in a planned community can be great – until an owner violates a rule, even if unintentionally. Make sure an attorney well-versed in applicable law and the Association's Governing Documents helps tell you your rights or obligations.

The post on Friday 10/27/17 was about a suit for sexual harassment and retaliation. Yep, something's fishy here. The suit by the EEOC is against a seafood processor and staffing firm (hence our attempt at humor) for an alleged hostile work environment. The complaint says the staffing firm took the Spanish-speaking female workers to the plant where supervisors and managers harassed them. The post lists the harassment. Despite complaints, it didn't stop. And after 3 of them filed charges, 2 were discharged. Pre-litigation conciliation failed, hence the suit.

TAKEAWAY: Don't harass or otherwise illegally act toward your employees – you will be found out and end up paying for it.

Finally, in the post yesterday 10/28/17 we learned that a supermarket chain was sued for religious discrimination over dreadlocks. Ugh. The employee, a Rastafarian, had been hired but not yet started to work; he was told to cut his dreadlocks or quit. The post tells of his offer to resolve things and the employer's response.

TAKEAWAY: Respect employees' sincerely-held religious beliefs and try to accommodate them, especially if there is an easy fix.

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