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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Nov. 11 - 17, 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 11/11/18 we learned that Winn-Dixie urged a court to reverse a landmark ADA website ruling. We noted that this is not yet the law in PA, but you should think ahead just in case. Where did this start? With a June 2017 ruling which found that the Winn-Dixie's website violated the rights of blind internet users and laid the groundwork for an influx of website accessibility lawsuits. Why Winn-Dixie appealed, what the arguments are on both sides, and the possible impact on you(r business) are all in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Sometimes it's best to be proactive even if not legally required; websites may be one of those times.

The first post on Monday 11/12/18 was a thank-you to veterans (and current members of the armed forces).

The next post on Monday 11/12/18 asked: Can employees bring emotional support animals to the workplace? You need to know how to analyze and answer this question. You've probably seen or heard about the "certification" that someone with an emotional support animal offers to show. Is that sufficient for that person to bring the animal to work as an accommodation under the ADA? The post goes through the analysis, including the threshold question of whether or not the animal would provide an effective means to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The analysis then goes through the rest of the process, as in the post. One of the most important things to consider relative to emotional support animals is in the post.             

TAKEAWAY: Know what type of accommodation is or is not required under the ADA relative to animals – and consult employment counsel if necessary.

In the post on Tuesday 11/13/18 we learned about the law that changes life for airline passengers, flight attendants and airlines that almost nobody knows about. Really. Recently the President signed into law an FAA bill a little before the moment when everyone else in Washington and beyond was watching a key senator's speech about Judge Brett Kavanaugh (with Congressional support as noted in the post). So what isn't in the bill? There are no restrictions on what airlines can charge for baggage or change fees. What is in it? To start, the bill prohibits airlines from "bumping" passengers who've already boarded a plane. It also requires the FAA to set minimum standards for seat width and pitch. And at least 15 other things listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: It is good to know your rights as an airline passenger – this bill expanded them in some scenarios.

The post on Wednesday 11/14/18 was about why owners hate their homeowners or condominium associations. We suggested you not be one of those associations. In 2016, approximately 69 million Americans lived in a home within a homeowners’ or condominium association, according to the Community Associations Institute, or about 21% of the U.S. population. That's huge! Even among those who actively participate on the association's board, just 57% said they love their association. The post contains more interesting statistics that might help you whether you are someone who lives with an association or are on the board. For example, what are the top three most-hated rules? Lawn appearance and 2 others in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Associations are supposed to make life easier for residents and they do that via the Governing Documents – make sure those documents are not only enforced, but evenly enforced. Let us help you if there is an issue.

In the post on Thursday 11/15/18 we read that an employer's legitimate non-discriminatory reason for termination ended a suit. Here, an executive housekeeper at a hotel had run the department since 1977, including managing 50 people and their payroll. Her employment was terminated shortly after she returned from an approved FMLA leave. No surprise, she filed suit, alleging discrimination and retaliation on the bases of age, taking FMLA leave, and opposing discriminatory practices. The employer's response is in the post. Keep in mind the burden-shifting scheme (also in the post) when there is no direct evidence and you will see why the court ruled as it did (see the post).

TAKEAWAY: Employers should always have a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for adverse actions; that will serve them well in case of suit.

The post on Friday 11/16/18 was again about emotional support animals in the workplace. We suggest that everyone needed to read this. So you read the post from Mon. 11/12/18. But are you sure of the distinction between support and service animals? It can make a huge difference to your pocketbook (when you are sued for making the wrong decision). Emotional support animals are usually a broader mix of animals than are service animals – the post lists just some types. Service animals are trained to perform a specific function for the owner; contrast that with emotional support animals whose purpose is as in the post. So when deciding whether or not to permit an employee to bring an emotional support animal to work, sue the analysis in the post on Mon. 11/12/18 as well as the considerations in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Even if an emotional support animal is not permitted as an accommodation, you may still be required to provide another accommodation – follow through on the interactive process.

Finally, in the post yesterday 11/17/18 we talked about what is "work" and when is it compensable? Yep, pretty important. You may not have thought about this much, or at all, but the federal Department of Labor's Wage & Hour Division sure has. It has issued 23 opinion letters so far in 2018, six of which were pretty recent. Three dealt with what is compensable time. The first area is travel time; the post looks at whether or not that is compensable and the circumstances. The opinion letter changed a long-standing policy/rule even when there is no regular place of employment – see the post. Next up is whether rest time is compensable. Again, the post analyzes the opinion letter and notes that common sense actually prevailed (for once). Finally, the post looks at compensability of participation in employer-sponsored activities like wellness programs and educational opportunities.

TAKEAWAY:  Know when to compensate your employees – it will be cheaper and easier to do it right from the start than to have to go back over it and pay possible penalties or damages.

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