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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Dec. 23 - 29, 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 12/23/18 we learned that employer obligations under the FMLA exist even before an employee satisfies eligibility. Yessirree. So what are some of those obligations? First, employers cannot manipulate the size of the worksite or number of hours of work available to avoid threshold eligibility for FMLA leave. And what about inducing an employee to waive FMLA rights? The post talks about that. Another thing the employer may not do: retaliate against an employee who requests to take FMLA leave once eligible. The post contains even more things an employer must or must not do prior to FMLA eligibility.

TAKEAWAY: As with any statute, know your rights and obligations under the FMLA before you do it incorrectly or get sued.

The post on Monday 12/24/18 talked about what the holiday movie 'Elf' can teach us about the ADA. Yes, the fun movie where Will Ferrell is elf Buddy. Early on Buddy learns he is not an elf when he has toy production issues. The assumption on which the post is built is that Buddy's height is a disability to which the ADA applies. So the first question is whether Santa and the elves must lower production standards for Buddy. No – but they may need to provide reasonable accommodation to help Buddy due to his disability. The post gives an example of how that might work. But what about transferring Buddy to another position as a reasonable accommodation? That is the accommodation of last resort under the ADA and only when the 2 prerequisites listed in the post have been met. And then other things have to happen for the transfer to be a valid reasonable accommodation – again, see the post.

TAKEAWAY: Movies are entertaining, but real-life lessons can be learned, especially when it comes to possible different ways to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee.

In the posts on Tuesday 12/25/18, here and here, we wished you and your families a Merry Christmas and more.

TAKEAWAY: Sometimes you just have to step back and enjoy. Period.

The post on Wednesday 12/26/18 asked: Is veganism a religion? One man seems to think so. He alleges that he was fired for disclosing investments in animal testing. The question, so nicely posed by the post, is "if someone firmly, and sincerely, believes animals are our partners and friends and that any and all forms of exploitation are immoral, to an extent that goes beyond a dietary choice and amounts to an article of faith, couldn't that fall under the hearing of a religion?" The timing of this matter is ironic considering what had just happened not long before (see the post).

TAKEAWAY: One man's religion is not always another's – but if a sincerely-held belief, then it qualifies for legal protection. Keep that in mind.

In the post on Thursday 12/27/18 we asked another question: Can a Director resign from the Association's Board for any reason? Do you know what PA law says? The answer is probably "yes". Directors are volunteers, albeit elected or appointed ones, but still volunteers. If they don't want to serve in that capacity any more, they can't be forced to remain. The post gives a bit more detail. .

TAKEAWAY: Board members should be treated with respect and gratitude – they represent the interests of all owners, equally, and must enforce the Governing Documents whether or not they like the contents.                   

The post on Friday 12/28/18 talked of a blind man suing the Playboy website for not being user friendly to all. You read that right. He says he wants to read the articles but can't. Donald sued for violation of the ADA, saying the website is not compatible with his software. More of his arguments are in the post. Playboy did not comment.

TAKEAWAY: The question of whether websites deserve ADA protection is winding its way through the legal system – the best way to act now is to make yours accessible and then it won't matter on which side the courts come down.

Finally, in the post yesterday 12/29/18, and in keeping with a mini-theme, we noted that when the witch in the office asks for the solstice off, don’t laugh, she’s not joking. A small percentage of Americans identify as Wicca or Pagan (but more than identify as Presbyterian!), so don't stick your head on the ground on this one. Employers must accommodate religious beliefs - to the extent possible - regardless of which religion. The post explains what might be a religion under Title VII (and why Wicca might qualify). There are some common religious accommodations an employer might consider, including exceptions to the company's dress code, schedule changes, and more listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Unless you can show an undue hardship, which is difficult and rare, be prepared to accommodate employees' religious beliefs (even if you don't agree with those beliefs).

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