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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Jan. 7-13, 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 1/7/18 we found out that Bojangles will pay $15,000 to settle an EEOC sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. Not getting Southern warm fuzzies from that one. The suit alleges that Jonathan, a transgender woman, was subjected to offensive comments over and over and that management made illegal demands – see the post. She reported the harassment but it continued and, to make things worse, she was fired. Everything that Bojangles agreed to is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: More and more courts are finding that gender identify is protected against discrimination by Title VII or other laws – and the EEOC takes that position – so be careful of the actions your managers take (or don’t take but should).

The post on Monday 1/8/18 said that PA State Police paid $8M to settle claims against troopers. Yep, it's not just Congress and Hollywood.  And that payout was for 18 sexual harassment and discrimination cases since 2001, with 4 more cases pending now. The allegations in the cases that settled, along with the ranks of the plaintiffs, are in the post. The payouts ranged from $5,000 - $435,000; but the post also mentions payouts of $6.3M to settle claims against just one trooper. And the $8M does not include $250,000 from a jury verdict last month. Details about some of the cases that settled are in the post. It is sad that a law enforcement agency has been and remains embroiled in remedying this type of behavior – it needs to stop.

TAKEAWAY: It doesn’t matter who the employer is – discrimination and harassment should not happen. If it does, it must be stopped, the victim made whole (if possible), and the perpetrator punished. Period.

In the post on Tuesday 1/9/18 we asked: what is a homeowners' or condo association – and what does it mean to you? We suggest you talk to us before you buy (or if you are already residing in a planned community or on the Board of one). More and more people every day reside in condominiums or single-family homes in planned communities – those with a homeowners' association and certain documents that govern many facets of life in the community. The post gives some tips on what to know before buying.

TAKEAWAY: The documents that govern in a planned community are a legal contract and provide for rights and responsibilities of both homeowners and the Association – consult an attorney to know what they mean.

The post on Wednesday 1/10/18 told us 5 steps to take if the investigation does not prove out harassment allegations. Well, let's start with the assumption (yes, that can be dangerous!) that if a complaint is lodged, the employer investigates it, promptly and fully. But what if the facts do not support the complaint? Well, initially, and as the post notes, that doesn't mean the allegations were false or that the person who made the complaint should be disciplined; rather, there are degrees of things that may be in play (as in the post). But there are 5 things that are good to do anyway, including having the alleged harasser sign a(nother) copy of the company's anti-harassment policy, thanking the person who complained for being concerned, and 3 more in the post.

TAKEAWAY: The hope is that an investigation will not support allegations of harassment or discrimination in the workplace, but employers should take certain steps afterward to protect themselves nonetheless.

In the post on Thursday 1/11/18 we learned that being rude isn't a protected ethnic trait. In a federal court case in PA, Ina, a recently naturalized citizen, was discharged. Management documented its bases for the discharge. Ina sued for national origin discrimination. The court agreed with the employer's defense (see the post) and dismissed the suit.

TAKEAWAY: We've said it before: document document document. Make sure to have support for what you claim.

The post on Friday 1/12/18 noted that parking restrictions should be rooted in reality, not for the sake of appearance. How do yours measure up? This is another talking about life in a planned community, this time one with parking restrictions. Actually, most of them have parking restrictions so you probably are or know someone who has to live with the restrictions. But are they legal and reasonable? It will depend on the circumstances (see the post for an example). The post also gives a few ideas on what to do if the restrictions are not reasonable under the circumstances.

TAKEAWAY: Life in a planned community is governed by rules, whether or not the owners like the rules. But there are things to do and ways to change those rules – consult an attorney who practices in this area of law.

Finally, in the post yesterday 1/13/18 we learned that small Carlisle Borough settled an age bias case for $650,000. Yes, your read that right. The former public works director had filed charges of age discrimination in his discharge (and more in the post). We will never get to find out the true facts now due to the payout. The post also notes the breakdown between insurance coverage and taxpayer-funded payout.

TAKEAWAY: Sometimes, even if a complaint is untrue, it is better for both parties to settle than to litigate. But the settlement parameters – and dollars – will vary from case to case.

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