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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Nov. 19-25, 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 11/19/17 we noted that one who could get to work on time by waking up an hour earlier isn't entitled to an accommodation allowing her to be late. Seems logical, right? Well apparently not as a case like that made it to federal court here in Pennsylvania. The employee had to be at work at 8:30am and needed 60-90 minutes before driving to allow her medically-prescribed eye drops to work. Her saga is in the post. The employer suggested she wake up earlier to arrive on time; she ended up being discharged. And then sued. The Court's ruling and rationale (which are exceedingly logical) are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Engaging in the interactive accommodation process is required – but not providing the exact accommodation requested. Or even any accommodation if none is needed.

The post on Monday 11/20/17 noted that it's almost time to deck the (workplace) halls. Read the post. Why? To ensure that you don't offend anyone = give anyone basis for suit. The post talks about some situations and what is or isn't required to be done, along with EEOC guidance.

TAKEAWAY: yes, you can celebrate in the workplace, but in an even, legal way, so check with your employment law attorney if you are not sure what (not) to do.

In keeping with the holiday theme, in the post on Tuesday 11/21/17 we noted it's also time to think about holiday bonuses … Whether to give them is up to you as the employer, but keep in mind how they can affect pay and overtime compensation. First, for non-exempt employees (probably most of your workforce), bonuses are part of "regular compensation" – used to determine the rate of overtime pay - unless they fall within an exception (you knew there was a catch, right?!?). The post explains the exemption for a true holiday or special occasion gift. The post also explains year-end bonuses that don't fall within the holiday gift exception, but are still exempt. Finally, the post provides a short test as to whether a bonus is exempt or not.

TAKEAWAY: You can make your employee's joyous with year-end or holiday bonuses, but make sure you know what if any effect that has on their compensation and overtime pay.

The post on Wednesday 11/22/17 told us Netflix settles after employee accuses it of tolerating harassment and discrimination. And the concerned employee was a former HR Director! After making a complaint and being fired, he sued. The details are in the post, including male on male sex harassment. Netflix' statement in response to the complaint and settlement is also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Even short-time employees can file charges or suits – don't underestimate them. Of course, the best thing is not to take (or omit taking) illegal action in the first place – or clear any adverse action with your employment law attorney.

In the posts on Thursday 11/23/17, here and here, we suggested you give thanks for all you have and share your bounty with others.

TAKEAWAY: Sometimes we must take a moment away from work to say thank you – to those who've helped us and to those we can help.

The post on Friday 11/24/17 reminded us that a worker must object to harassment before suing. Yep. With everything that is in the news these days, it is timely to remember that an employer cannot take steps to stop or cure harassment or discrimination of which it is not made aware. The post talks about an employee who, after working at the same store for 40 years, quit. Her reason is in the post, as are the types of harassment she alleged occurred. The court's ruling on her suit is also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Investigate every claim or charge that is made by an employee – and make sure to train your employees to encourage reporting.

Finally, in the post yesterday 11/25/17 we noted that after Harvey Weinstein, contracts that keep employees quiet are under scrutiny. Employees and their employers are free to contract away certain rights that might otherwise exist – but some legislators want to change that. See the post for the pending legislation. The intent is to help clarify the provisions in agreements that some argue are unclear and might deter reporting of harassment and discrimination. The contrary view is that employees sign such agreements in exchange for large sums of money and to protect their reputations and careers. Maybe both are right …

TAKEAWAY: Employers should make clear that NDAs and confidentiality agreements pertain only to work product, processes, and company information, not to illegal harassment or discrimination.

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