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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – June 18-24, 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 6/18/17 we talked about 3 Things ‘The Office" Taught Me About Employment Law (Part 1). Yes, television can be educational (but don't tell your kids!). So what does it teach us? Timing and good documentation are everything. The series includes a part where there is an office relationship and one of the employees is discharged – she sues and proof of when their relationship started becomes key. The post gives background, but comes around to the lesson: know who did what and when, and document it.

TAKEAWAY: Keep records now in case you ever need them later – and record could mean a formal memo, an email, a photograph, or something else that records what happened, when, and who was involved.

In the post on Monday 6/19/17 we learned that non-union employees have no right to co-worker's presence during investigatory interview. While this is a ruling from the NLRB, it applies in the non-union world, so pay attention. Union employees have the right to have a co-worker present during an investigatory interview that might result in discipline. The question before the NLRB was whether non-union employees have the same right. The Board has flip-flopped on the answer in the past, with the latest decision (in 2004) answering in the negative (the reasoning is in the post). This unanimous ruling came about as a result of a petition from a former NLRB attorney.

TAKEAWAY: While the right of unionized employees to have co-worker present in an investigatory interview that might lead to discipline is intact, the same right is not extended to non-union employees; however beware as other protections under the NLRA do extend to non-union employees.

In the post on Tuesday 6/20/17 we noted that Rosebud is to pay $1.9M to settle an EEOC case of race discrimination. So what or who is Rosebud? The operator of 13 Italian restaurants in the Chicago area. [NOTE: just look at the list of the restaurants in the post; if you've been to Chicago, you've probably eaten in one of them.] The EEOC alleged that Rosebud did not hire African-Americans due to their race (and more illegal practices mentioned in the post). Conciliation failed but the matter has not settled with payments going to African-Americans who were denied jobs (and other items).

TAKEAWAY: The settlement included monetary and other remedial relief – if you don't want this to rain down on your business, don't make decision based on race.

The post on Wednesday 6/21/17 provided your entertainment for the day: strange (but true) sexual harassment cases. The first one was sex on the ceiling. A female employee was at an out-of-town business convention. Her employer booked her lodging. She met a local male friend; after dinner, they went back to her room for a tryst. She was injured – the post tells how. The employer was held liable for her workers comp claim because she was at a place her employer sent her for work. Wow. The next case was titled "do it a few more times before it is harassment". The plaintiff female employee worked part of the time in a construction trailer. One comment directed to her by a male employee was that "a large-breasted women, whom he called 'Double D', would attend a particular event. More of that comment, and others, is in the post. The court said that because the comments happened on only (its choice of language) 4 occasions, the conduct was not offensive or pervasive enough to rise to a level of HWE. What? Three more cases are in the post and provide entertaining reading.

TAKEAWAY: Life can indeed be stranger than fiction, but don't be a case told round the world – rather, follow the law and stay out of the news.

In the post on Thursday 6/22/17 we noted that bankruptcy may be your first and best option. Read the post and contact me to discuss. Filing for bankruptcy should not always be the last option you consider, but the decision is fact-dependent. For example, you can probably legally get rid of debt for less than a settlement might cost. It might also help your credit score (I know, seems counter-intuitive, right, but it's true.). The post contains a few more reasons to consider it first.

TAKEAWAY: Bankruptcy is prevalent in our society and has a bad name. However, there is no scarlet "B" and it might be the best thing for your situation – discuss it with me (or another knowledgeable bankruptcy practitioner).

The post on Friday 6/23/17 stayed in the NLRB world and noted the NLRB is still in business – watch your handbooks and policy manuals. Yes, this applies to both union and non-union workplaces, so all of you read on. All employees have right to unionize, bargain collectively and engage in other protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the NLRA. If employees could reasonably construe a policy or rule to limit or prohibit the protected activity, the Board will strike it down as illegal. That happened recently to 17 policies from one single employer. Some of the stricken policies were a responsive action policy, a conflict of interest policy, and an outside employment and business activities policy. Other examples are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Have an employment attorney review your handbook or policy manual to make sure it passes NLRB muster – you don't want to find out the hard way that something is to be found illegal.

Finally, in the post yesterday 6/24/17, we were upbeat with 7 things you can do every day to help our oceans. These are not just for divers, but for everyone. The simple ways you can help include cutting down on plastics during mealtimes (buy reusable containers, bring silverware from home, and don't use straws that are not reusable). Also, change your coffee habits (paying attention now, aren't you?). How? Don't use disposable coffee cups (from the office or coffee shop) or Styrofoam – bring a reusable cup/mug. Also, don't use individual K-cups or similar products. They are indeed convenient, but they are not biodegradable or recyclable. Instead, get and use a reusable K-Cup (or reusable coffee filters if you don't use a Keurig). The other 5 items are in the post and are pretty easy too.

TAKEAWAY: Be a world steward – today and every day. Do your part to protect the oceans – they give us pleasure and are an important part of the food and water cycle. Just do it.

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