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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Mar. 24-30, 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 3/24/19 we saw that breaking contracts has consequences (and what could happen relative to restrictive covenants).  The featured case is from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal appellate court whose decisions are binding on us here in PA. So what happened? Michael worked for Heartland soliciting people to use Heartland's credit and debit card services. He signed a manager's agreement with provisions detailed in the post. He also signed commission agreements (whose relevant terms are noted in the post). There were differences between the manager's agreement and commission agreements that are listed in the post. After Michael resigned to work for a competitor, he breached the manager's agreement. He also did other things listed in the post.  Michael's arguments as to which agreement governed and why are in the post. Also in the post is the Court's rationale as to its ruling.

TAKEAWAY: When there is more than one agreement in play, court will look at all of them and see if one supersedes the other(s). This can be important when dealing with restrictive covenants, so consult employment law counsel relative to the interplay among your agreements.

The post on Monday 3/25/19 was about documenting the failure to document (which is applicable in any employment context). Blumentritt was supposed to keep proper charts for the Mayo Clinic. Practices that were required are in the post. However, the post also talks about what the Mayo Clinic did not do. When Blumentritt was fired and sued (on the basis that he was a gay male), the practices prevailed.

TAKEAWAY: Document, document, document. And follow and enforce policies.

The post on Tuesday 3/26/19 told us Amazon was sued over bathroom breaks in a federal ADA lawsuit. A call center employee brought the suit, alleging he was fired for "time theft". Why? Nicholas has Crohn's disease which requires frequent bathroom breaks. What happened is in the post. And how much is requested for damages? See the post.

TAKEAWAY: No matter the size of your workplace, know what is required of you under applicable law and follow through.

The post on Wednesday 3/27/19 asked: When is a business NOT a business? This can make a difference in homeowner and condominium associations. Here, the homeowner bought the home in 2003. In 2005, they planted a vineyard after ARC approval. The Governing Documents had a provision noted in the post. The owner first harvested in 2009 and began selling wine in 2009. Neighbors objected. What happened in response is in the post. At trial, the owner testified; what he said is in the post. The court analyzed the facts and what, if any, effect there was on the community and the impact of the Governing Documents if taken literally.

TAKEAWAY: Even though something is classified one way for tax purposes, it may not be determined to be the same thing for community Association purposes, especially if the Association has a rational reason. Consult a community association lawyer if needed.

In the post on Thursday 3/28/19 we learned that a country club pays to settle an age discrimination suit. This is local news, occurring in Eastern PA. The suit, filed by the EEOC, alleged that starting in January 2013, the Country Club started treating the oldest groundskeeper differently than younger workers. How? See the post. But that wasn’t all. In December 2016 and Spring 2017 there was more – see the post. Especially damning was what the groundskeeper was told (which is in the post).

TAKEAWAY: Loose lips … sink employment lawsuits. Teach your employees what to say and not say and be legally compliant.

The post on Friday 3/29/19 told us that a restaurant owner sued the attorneys who filed a 'drive-by' ADA lawsuit against him. So the attorneys have apparently been filing many ADA suits against businesses around CO, including Michael's. In that suit, the plaintiff alleges ADA violations but what they told Michael is in the post. As the case progressed … see the post. So because of all that, and his losses, Michael is suing the attorneys who sued him. .

TAKEAWAY:  Make sure there is a valid factual and legal basis for the underlying action before suing someone – or when someone sues you.

Finally, in the post yesterday 3/30/19 we learned that Christini’s Ristorante Italiano is to pay $80,000 to settle an EEOC sexual harassment suit. (It must be restaurant week here in the blog ...) Ok, this one's not PG. The restaurant's owner, Chris, allegedly created and encouraged an environment where sexual comments and conduct was ok and commonplace and the female bartender was repeatedly propositioned. What he said is in the post. When she complained, he fired her. Dumb.

TAKEAWAY: whether owner or manager, know what to say and what not to say to employees – don't hand them your head on a legal platter.

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