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Monday
Nov132017

ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Nov. 12-18, 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 11/12/17 we talked about website accessibility - the emerging trend under the ADA. In June of this year, a federal court in Florida ruled against Winn Dixie and in favor of a visually-impaired man under the ADA. Then a mere 2 days later, a federal judge in California allowed a similar suit to go forward. Finally, and more recently, 2 federal judges in NY denied business defendants' motions to dismiss website accessibility suits. The analyses for all are in the post. So how do you know if you should be worried? The starting point is to find out if you are in one of the 12 categories of businesses considered "places of public accommodation" and therefore subject to the accessibility requirements. The post even talks about how it works if there is no physical place of business, but only an on-line presence. A suggested reference is also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Website accessibility is not the next frontier – it is the current battleground. Check your site now to avoid legal trouble later.

The post on Monday 11/13/17 was about a Court breaking from DOJ on transgender rights. This follows DOJ's announcement that Title VII does NOT prohibit discrimination based on gender identity (contrary to the EEOC's stance). The federal court in Oklahoma issued a ruling in late October in a case brought by a transgender former professor alleging harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity after having been denied tenure following her transition. The post tells of the procedural path and why the suit will go forward. The most important part is that the Court rejected the argument that gender identity is not protected under Title VII. The Court also ruled on the claims of hostile environment and the Faragher/Ellerth defense – those too are discussed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Courts will not always rule on an issue in a particular way just because the government says that is the way they should rule – they will look at the facts and applicable law and make a legal interpretation and ruling.

In the post on Tuesday 11/14/17 we learned that 9 credit unions are hit with ADA suits over websites. The suits were filed in federal court in Virginia by the same plaintiff for alleged violation of the ADA. The basis for suit is in the post. Website accessibility is a big deal now.       

TAKEAWAY: The ADA applies to most businesses and website accessibility is the next (well, current) frontier – make sure yours is legal before you end up on the wrong side of any judicial determinations.

The post on Wednesday 11/15/17 told us that a discrimination lawsuit was filed against a county based on association. Robert Straub worked in the Business Resource Center – he took a 30-day leave under the FMLA to care for his wife. A mere 4 days after he returned from leave, he was discharged. Comments made by the administration (or relatives of administration members) are in the post – and should make you say "yuck". The suit was for violation of the FMLA as well as retaliation for association with Robert's wife, a disabled person.

TAKEAWAY: Remember this category under the ADA – association with a disable person. Don't take action based on that.

In the post on Thursday 11/16/17 we had answers on outside employment, firing works on leave, and the FLSA. The first question is whether a company can prohibit its employees from getting outside work. The answer is maybe – if there is a conflict of interest or it violates a legal policy of the employer. The other 2 questions are in the post with the answers.

TAKEAWAY: Know the law – including legal policies, FMLA leave and how it affects business decisions, and FLSA requirements for overtime pay. Contact an employment law attorney for help.

The post on Friday 11/17/17 was about 3 more former Tesla workers alleging racial discrimination and harassment. Yep, a collective ugh. The newest suit was filed by African-American men. They say that coworkers and even supervisors routinely called them the N-word. And more as noted in the post. Complaints did not make the behaviors stop. When the first suit was filed, Tesla investigated – but see the post for what happened. The suit is pending.

TAKEAWAY: Train your employees – management level and other – on what they can and cannot say and do – and then enforce it, with discipline, even discharge, if necessary.

Finally, in the post yesterday 11/18/17 we asked: is customer info a trade secret? Well, not so fast … In this case, a pharmaceutical-return company tried to enjoin former employees from operating a competitor business. It got a TRO and asked for a preliminary injunction which the competitor company opposed. The court's analysis of the terms of the restrictive covenants at issue is in the post and is instructive on how to draw up such a provision and make it stick, starting with how the company seeking the injunction protects its information.

TAKEAWAY: Restrictive covenants serve a purpose; if you are unsure if yours will be upheld when they come into play, check with an employment law attorney.

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