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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Nov. 5-11, 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 11/5/17 we noted that no boss should comment on language skills, hearing - unless s/he wants to put the employer at risk. The risk is of the employee claiming the existence of a hostile working environment. The post gives an example about how this might play out. Don't let it play out like this for your company.

TAKEAWAY: Treat employees respectfully – even – and especially – when they are different. Unless it has to do with performance, don't comment on differences in speech or hearing abilities.

The post on Monday 11/6/17 noted EEOC sues Professional Endodontics for age discrimination (and suggested you review your policies). The employer was a dental surgery practice; it is now a defendant in a federal lawsuit brought by the EEOC. The post tells us the allegations relative to Karen, a 37-year employee.

TAKEAWAY: Policies or decisions made solely based on age are most likely illegal – talk to an employment law attorney.

In the post on Tuesday 11/7/17 we noted you should feel free to terminate if you find wrongdoing while employee is out on FMLA leave. (But consult an attorney to be sure.) Remember that the key is not to terminate because the employee was out on FMLA leave; but termination for other (valid, legal) reasons is ok. The post gives an example. Tracey worked for a company and also had her own business; as part of that, she signed an agreement with the employer. The terms of the agreement are in the post. While Tracy was out on FMLA leave, a colleague told the employer she had violated the agreement. She was fired and sued. The post provides the outcome of the suit and the rationale.

TAKEAWAY: Remember the key: termination for a valid reason other than taking FMLA leave is acceptable.

The post on Wednesday 11/8/17 noted for dreadlocked servicewoman, the fight for acceptance is both a military and civilian battle. And she has been fighting this battle for over 4 years. It centers on grooming regulations prohibiting soldiers from wearing natural hairstyles. The post gives the detailed history, including the definition of "natural hairstyle", and what the Army finally did this past February relative to some of the hairstyles. So the military battle is partly won, but the civilian battle remains – see the post as to why.

TAKEAWAY: Dress and grooming policies often include prohibitions on certain hairstyles – make sure they don't infringe on an employee's religious beliefs.

In the post on Thursday 11/9/17 we learned that former Tesla factory workers are suing over claims of racially motivated abuse. This is the 2nd suit against Tesla by African-American workers at the Fremont factory. Tesla said there were no internal complaints filed. The allegations in the suit as noted in the post differ and provide some details about what happened. As an aside, tesla also faces an inquiry before the NLRB on whether or not it sought to suppress unionization.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure to train managers on what not to say or do – and how to deal with co-workers who harass or discriminate.

The post on Friday 11/10/17 was about avoiding employment lawsuits over the holiday season. Yes, you need to start to think about it now. The post mentions some things, including religious discrimination (don't do it!) and accommodation (do it!) and the holiday party – voluntary, mandatory, liability for injury, and more.

TAKEAWAY: Don't stop celebrating the season – just do it legally and so it doesn't infringe anyone's rights or beliefs.

Finally, in the post yesterday 11/11/17 we noted a bus driver fired for refusing "Mark of the Devil" in background check can sue employer. The employee didn't want to be fingerprinted for her background check on religious grounds. The employer fired her, thinking fingerprinting was required under applicable law. She then sued. The post tells of her bases for suit and what the employer could or should have done.

TAKEAWAY: It can be difficult when one law requires an employer to do (or not do) something, but another law requires it to do something else – consult an employment law attorney to help determine which law takes precedence.

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