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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Dec. 31, 2017 - Jan. 6, 2018

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 12/31/17 we saw that the Masterpiece Cakeshop had its day before SCOTUS – what we know as we wait for a decision. Five years ago a customer requested a wedding cake. Now that request is before the US Supreme Court. Ok, back to the history. Charlie and David asked Jack, masterpiece's owner, to create a cake for their same-sex wedding. He said no due to his religious beliefs. They filed a charge with the state HRC. The post details the rulings of the HRC, the state appeals court and the state supreme court on the way to SCOTUS. There, Phillips argued his constitutional rights to free speech and free exercise. Many individuals and groups filed briefs supporting the parties. Stay tuned.

TAKEAWAY: Constitutional freedoms are important, but they can't all be paramount – sometimes one must trump the other and that is what is to be decided here.

The post on Monday 1/1/18 wished you health, wealth and wisdom to see you through the year!

TAKEAWAY: It's a fresh start for all – make it a good one!

In the post on Tuesday 1/2/18 we learned the ex-CEO of BNA filed a wrongful termination suit against the airport authority. In firing him, the employer cited 6 issues (see the post). The suit, however, says the employer did not let him resume his duties when he returned from an approved FMLA leave. The bases upon which the suit was filed are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Even if there is a legitimate reason for an adverse action, the timing can make it look suspect; be careful.

The post on Wednesday 1/3/18 was about an employee fired 2 days after company doctor suggests he suffered on-the-job hernia advancing claims. The discharge was allegedly for working unsafely. The federal court judge denied the employer's motion to dismiss and found in favor of the employee on various claims under the ADA and more (as in the post). To avoid being that employer, see what the employer did (as in the post) and don't do the same thing. Also keep in mind a lesser-used prong under the ADA (record of disability).  

TAKEAWAY: As with our post from 1/2/18, even if there is a legitimate reason for taking adverse action against an employee, keep in mind the timing of that action so that it doesn’t look suspect.

In the post on Thursday 1/4/18 we saw that $1.16M was awarded in a transgender employment discrimination trial. A jury trial. So what happened? Dr. Rachel Tudor, a male-to-female transgender tenure-track professor, sued the university employer, alleging that it discriminated against her on the bases of gender and gender identity (with specific bases and background facts mentioned in the post). The tenure committee recommended granting tenure; administrators rejected that recommendation. What happened next is in the post. DOJ filed suit on her behalf (wow!) and later she intervened with another claim. DOJ settled out prior to trial. The post explains in more detail what sex stereotyping is.  

TAKEAWAY: Litigation is proving out that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is illegal – but stay tuned since DOJ has now changed its stance under the current Administration.

The post on Friday 1/5/18 told us workplace civility rules get a boost from Labor Board decision. And yes, even you non-union employers care. In mid-December the NLRB overturned a prior decision and how (or whether) it applied (see an example in the post). Now, Boeing was successful relative to a "no-camera" rule banning employees from taking photos or videos on job sites without permission. The question now is whether the rule is mere workplace civility or something else. And that is where the EEOC will come in with possible discrimination.

TAKEAWAY: Yes employer, there is the ability to have civility rules, but make sure not to enforce them in a way that is discriminatory (and invites a second look from the EEOC).

Finally, in the post yesterday 1/6/18 we learned about common mistakes employers make in handling complaints of sexual harassment. So timely. And so important. First, there is the failure to promptly and competently investigate. In other words, don't be an ostrich. Keep that head up, acknowledge the complaint, and investigate it thoroughly (taking action if necessary). Four other common mistakes are in the post with tips on how to avoid (or remedy) them.

TAKEAWAY: Mistakes happen – but try to avoid them if possible by taking complaints of harassment seriously and processing them properly. Get legal help if necessary.

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