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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Dec. 10 - 16, 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 12/10/17 we read about 4 types of employees nearly every company has and what to do about them. We noted that you will recognize all of them. First is the office romance. The employee who brings love to co-workers. Whether or not it is a problem for an employer depends on consensuality, chain of command, and more. See the post with how to deal with this. Other types include the office revolutionary and 2 more in the post (which also talks about how to handle them).

TAKEAWAY: You don't have to like all of your employees, but you do have to treat them legally (and pursuant to your policies).

The post on Monday 12/11/17 noted that prior entitlement to FMLA leave is not a free ticket to miss work for non-FMLA covered reasons. In a case binding on us here, the court affirmed an employer's decision to discharge an employee pursuant to its absenteeism policy despite the employee's prior FMLA leave. Why? See the post. The court looked at her work history, the FMLA leave, and more in the context of her FMLA interference and retaliation and ADA claims and dismissed them all. The reasoning is in the post.  

TAKEAWAY: Even if an employee had an approved FMLA leave, you can still enforce your absenteeism policy for absences not related to the reason for the FMLA leave.

In the post on Tuesday 12/12/17 we saw that the EEOC (finally!) scores victory in sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit. And in a federal court in Pittsburgh to boot! The court awarded more than $55,000 to the EEOC on behalf of the employee. This was one of the first cases the EEOC filed about sexual orientation and one of the first holding sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited sex discrimination. So what is the background? Dale was a telemarketer. From day 1, his supervisor harassed him about his sexual orientation – the many ways he did it are in the post. Dale reported it and the CEO/owner did nothing. Dale quit, field charges … and here we are. The post contains more details on the suit and the damages phase, including where the employer fell short.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure to train employees on anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. Then enforce those policies.

The post on Wednesday 12/13/17 was about how to identify serial harassers in the workplace. You know, those people who do it again and again, with impunity. Many accused of that behavior have been or are in the news now. An article mentioned in the post talks about ensuring that the first to report is not victimized again – by creating some type of repository until there is another. The post explains how it might work and change the culture that seems to pervade today's society.

TAKEAWAY: Whatever system you choose in your workplace, encourage reporting of harassment – and then investigate and take action as appropriate. Don't turn a blind eye.

In the post on Thursday 12/14/17 we found out that timing is everything when defending a retaliation claim. Especially with this case that is binding on us here in Central PA. Miriam worked as a ticket agent for a bus company. She was fired. Two weeks after telling the company she needed FMLA leave for breast cancer surgery. The post gives more background details – you will (hopefully) cringe when your read them. The court did and let Miriam's retaliation claim go forward. The rationale is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: If you take adverse action against an employee, make sure there is a valid, legal basis for it – from all angles.

The post on Friday 12/15/17 told us about a car dealership paying $150,000 to settle a discrimination suit. That's a lotta green! The suit alleged that it paid Chinese technicians less than other workers. And more – in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Don't tell an employee anything you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the Washington Post – and don't pay them less for a reason that isn't legally valid.

Finally, in the post yesterday 12/16/17 we see the Department of Labor aggressively pursuing back pay claims. And suggest you not be on the wrong side – contact us. The FLSA is sometimes confusing, but don't get mired down and end up paying more than you had to from the start. The post gives a good (but hopefully extreme) example of a small amount being owed but not paid for overtime, the employee complaining, and nothing being done – until the DOL filed suit.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure to properly pay employees, each and every pay period.

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