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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – July 16 - 22, 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 7/16/17 we learned that umpire Angel Hernandez sued MLB for racial discrimination, citing Joe Torre's animosity. Yes, he's taking on the establishment, Major League Baseball, alleging that he was repeatedly passed over for advancement based on a pattern of race discrimination. How Joe Torre fits into it is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: It doesn't matter who the employer is – discrimination should not happen and will be called to the mat (or plate, as the case may be).

The post on Monday 7/17/17 was about best practices for employers under the EEOC's new strategic enforcement plan. The biggest piece is the "gig economy", where employees are temporary, part-time, leased, employed through staffing agencies, and more. The Strategic Enforcement Plan focuses on the independent contractor relationships to ensure no discrimination. The Plan also has other areas of focus: see the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers should never run afoul of the law by their actions, but should be especially concerned in the areas targeted by the EEOC for enforcement in the next few years.

In the post on Tuesday 7/18/17 we talked about 'The pregnancy pause': latest 'job' category to explain CV gaps. But will it decrease pregnancy discrimination? Most of the time an applicant will explain the gap period if it was spent on something that adds to the job. But what about maternity leave? That's sort of a "don't ask, don't tell" area to avoid discrimination. To avoid that, a creative agency is trying to get a new category on LinkedIn: "The Pregnancy Pause". The post has more details on the category and how it is supposed to work.

TAKEAWAY: Don't discriminate against an applicant or employee based on pregnancy. Just don't do it.

The post on Wednesday 7/19/17 said that a law firm was ordered to pay $3.1M to an Association (and noted it's a good thing Austin Law Firm knows how to handle these things for you!). So what happened? A NV law firm apparently enabled a contractor to cheat a homeowners' association out of $8M. So now the law firm has been ordered by the court to pay $3.1M to the Association (of which $700,000 is interest). All because a young attorney wasn't supervised and allowed ballot stuffing in an election, the FBI told the law firm it was investigating the attorney for election irregularities (but the firm didn't tell the Association (its client), and the firm represented both sides in a suspicious Association election. The post gives even more sordid details. The irony is that the law firm was brought in to oversee elections because the Association's Board thought there were irregularities.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure you have a law firm you can trust and that it knows what it is doing in the matter(s) in which it represents you.

In the post on Thursday 7/20/17 we learned a couple was stunned to learn the $458,000 they paid for a gulf-front condo may be for nothing. (We also suggested you let us help you with your real estate issues.) You've heard the saying that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is? Well this couple should have heeded that adage. They bought a condo at foreclosure sale because they thought it was a good deal. Then they found out a bank has a superior mortgage (and might soon foreclosure). The worst part relates to the former owner – that's in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Before buying real estate at a foreclosure (Sheriff's) sale, let us help ensure you will get what you think you will be getting – so you don't get stung like this couple.

The post on Friday 7/21/17 had an ADA tip: include GINA safe harbor language re medical information for an accommodation request. You remember GINA, right? Well in those certain circumstances where employers can request medical information (including evaluating an ADA accommodation request), GINA comes to the forefront. And intent has nothing to do with any violation! To be safe, use safe harbor language – a sample is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Do your due diligence in responding to an employee's request for accommodation under the ADA – but don't violate any other law while complying with that one.

Finally, the post yesterday 7/22/17 told us it's ok to set a high anti-harassment standard – and to enforce it. What does this mean? Well, you (should) know your minimum requirements according to applicable law. But if you as an employer set a higher bar, it is ok – and you can and should enforce it. The employee in the post tried to argue that since the conduct for which he was being terminated was not illegal, the employer could not take adverse action on account of it. The court did not buy into his argument.

TAKEAWAY: Workplace polices are dictated in part by applicable law, but as long as they do not conflict, you can enact and enforce policies stricter than the law.

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