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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Mar. 10-16, 2019

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 3/10/19 we learned that CBS pays actress to settle sex harassment & discrimination matter. #MeToo comes back around to Hollywood? Eliza Dushku was hired for a new series in 2017. She says that almost immediately a male lead started to make sexually inappropriate comments to her. Yes, there's more in the post that has contract and other implications. Eventually she got $9.5M – the basis for that is in the post and includes sex harassment and another count noted in the post.  

TAKEAWAY: Finally, someone made whole in the face of illegal action – don't let your situation get to this point, do it right from the start.

The post on Monday 3/11/19 told us that a KFC worker wins $1.5 million in discrimination lawsuit over breastfeeding. Annette was hired a few months after she gave birth in 2014 and was told that breastfeeding would not be an issue. She was advised to pump every two hours, but was only allowed to pump once during a 10-hour shift. And as if that wasn't bad enough, see what else KFC did as noted in the post. Then she was demoted and co-workers got into in by complaining – yep, see the post. Annette sued for gender discrimination and harassment. She won $25,000 compensatory and $1.5 million punitive damages. Huge!

TAKEAWAY: Treat all employees the same unless the law requires something different – and then discuss with an employment lawyer BEFORE taking the varied action.

The post on Tuesday 3/12/19 was about severance pay: what you need to know. Sometimes it is necessary to discharge an employee. When you do, you need to decide whether or not to offer severance pay or a package. A typical amount is noted in the post, but of course that varies from case to case. It can also depend on any applicable contract provisions. But in addition to the amount of pay, what else might you consider for the package? Retirement account vesting, stock options (or vesting), and other things noted in the post. And why would you want to consider offering a severance package? First, if the discharge is part of a RIF or an early retirement. Also for the situations mentioned in the post. Things to consider when offering a severance package are also listed in the post.  

TAKEAWAY: Severance packages can serve a purpose, but make sure to discuss with employment counsel to ensure it will actually accomplish the purpose you want it to serve.

The post on Wednesday 3/13/19 told us how to turn $147 into $10,000 - the WRONG way! So what happened? Owners purchased a home in 2014. Two years later, owner did not pay a $147 assessment to the homeowners' association. If then assessed a late fee. Things escalated as laid out in the post. The HOA filed a lien and the owner tried to get it removed (the basis is in the post). The owner lost in the trial court and appealed. The appellate court affirmed for the reasons in the post. That $147 turned into a much much larger amount.

TAKEAWAY: Homes that are part of homeowner and condominium associations are subject to the Governing Documents (Declaration, Bylaws, and Rules/Regulations). What they say legally binds both the owners and association, so make sure you know their contents.

In the post on Thursday 3/14/19 we learned that courts rule on limits of ADA accommodation. Read on. Yes, the ADA Amendments Act broadened the scope of disability. But there are still limits. The post talks of 2 examples. In the first, an employee reported to work under the influence of drugs and failed a drug test. She was fired. She sued for discrimination, failure to accommodate and retaliation. Her arguments are in the post. Why the court ruled against her is also in the post. The second case was again about an employee fired after failing a drug test. He too sued, this time for disability discrimination. How the facts played out here are in the post as well as the limits of accommodation.

TAKEAWAY: While the employee might be considered disabled, that does not mean that every accommodation is on the table; it still must be reasonable and the process must be followed at every step.

The post on Friday 3/15/19 noted: I should have written that down ... Famous last words you don't want to hear. You’ve heard it before: location location location in real estate is akin to document document document in the employment context. That is especially true when it comes time to terminate an employee. Without documents, the employee has several bases on which to sue – see the post. So how do you prevent that? First, document everything. Next, be truthful and don't sugar coat. Why you should follow this advice is in the post. Three other tips are also in the post along with why they are important.

TAKEAWAY: While it might be nice, it is not always possible, or even the best idea for legal reasons, to change the bases for the termination – be blunt, factual and truthful. Contact employment counsel if there are questions.  

Finally, in the post yesterday 3/16/19 we saw that Whole Foods is beset with sexual harassment claims. Too bad. You know, the wonderful grocery-plus store that was bought by Amazon. The employee alleges that her shift supervisor made sexual remarks almost daily. Examples of what he said are in the post. And there was more noted in the post. This would be too much for anyone, but this employee wasn’t even 21! She told the supervisor to stop, but he didn't. She told the company; it ignored her. And then what did it do? See the post.

TAKEAWAY: Train supervisors how to treat those under them and make sure to investigate all complaints – don't let your case be tried in the court of public opinion or a court of law.

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