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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Mar. 3 - 9, 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 3/3/19 we saw that the EEOC sued restaurants for sexual harassment. Yes, Italians (stereotypically) use their hands, but that doesn’t make what happened here right. The EEOC alleges that a male line cook at one Italian restaurant had his private parts repeatedly groped by the kitchen manager, cook and chef. He reported it, and the restaurant's response was… in the post. Then more happened, including the chef grabbing his genitals and more in the post. What the owners did next (in the post) caused the cook to quit. And that's not all. The other restaurant under the same ownership had issues too. There, a female dishwasher, was faced with daily sexual comments and physical touching by the same kitchen manager. There was more as noted in the post

TAKEAWAY: While you want your employees to literally be hands off, you need to be figuratively hands on in ensuring that employees are treated properly. 

The post on Monday 3/4/19 told us that employers can reject accommodation requests that do not facilitate job performance. Makes sense, right? So in this case, the employee, a salesperson who suffers from depression, asked for permission to end sales calls and not deal with those customers in the future if they exacerbated the condition. So what did the employer do? It (smartly) contacted counsel to see how it should proceed. As the post notes, jumping to the hardship phase is not the right thing here. The employer first needs to see if the requests actually is for an accommodation under the ADA. The post reminds us what that entails. The post also tells us how that played out here.

TAKEAWAY: Start at the beginning when you receive a request for accommodation: make sure the person is eligible under the ADA and that the request also falls within the statute's parameters. Contact counsel to be sure.

In the post on Tuesday 3/5/19 we learned everything you need to know about homeowners and condo associations. Well, not everything, but it's a good start. So what did we learn? First, that around 70 million people live in a community association. The residences are owned by individuals and the association owns other land, called common elements. Some things are owned by more than one but fewer than all owners; they are called limited common elements. The post talks about how associations are governed. The post also emphasizes the CC&R, Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, Declaration – one of the set of Governing Documents. It is a legal document that binds all owners and the association. Rules (or regulations) are another Governing Documents; how they might be effective is also mentioned in the post. It is important to make sure you will be able to abide by the Governing Documents; ask yourself the 5 questions in the post, including whether you will be able to pay all assessments and whether or not there are any pet restrictions. 

TAKEAWAY: Know before you buy – or get on the board. The Governing Documents are to be followed uniformly (unless preempted by statute). Legal counsel is often helpful to both owners and board members.

The post on Wednesday 3/6/19 told us that Buffalo Wild Wings settled a discrimination suit. No more wings flapppin' (ok, bad attempt at humor). The settlement calls for payment of $30,000 to the three males. Why?  See the post as to the underlying allegations.

TAKEAWAY: Treat all employees the same; base any adverse decisions only on job performance.  

In the post on Thursday 3/7/19 we watch from the courtroom: religious accommodation do's and don'ts. DO tell supervisors not to deal with religious accommodation requests (or, really, any accommodation requests), but to take them to HR. Why? The case in the post. Marie was a dishwasher; she needed off one day per week for religious reasons. The employer accommodated her for 6 years. But then it stopped. What the employer did next is in the post. DON'T refuse an accommodation without showing undue hardship. Huh? Yup, the case in the post. The dress code prohibited beards or hair longer than collar length for certain employees, which affected those of certain religions listed in the post. But it didn't stop there; the employer also rejected applicants out of hand if they didn't meet the grooming policy. A final DO is also in the post (and, since it's from PA, worth reading).

TAKEAWAY: Don't sweep under the rug any request for religious accommodation; look at it carefully before making a decision. And consult counsel to make sure you are on solid legal footing.

The post on Friday 3/8/19 told us that a woman with disabilities claims Walmart fired her because she was pregnant. We queried: fired for being pregnant and having a job coach? Angela filed suit against the company and 2 employees, an assistant manager and a manager, alleging sex and disability discrimination and retaliation among the other things listed in the post. Apparently Walmart has a light duty program for those with lifting restrictions, but it did not offer the program to pregnant employees. How Angela was disabled is in the post, along with how Walmart accommodated. But then Walmart went against a decision it made in concert with Angela. When she told Walmart of her pregnancy, things got worse – see the post. The clincher: what the manager said when asked for the reason Angela was fired (yes, it's in the post).   

TAKEAWAY: Loose lips sink ships. Or put an employer at risk for a large liability. Make sure you don't have one of those managers!

Finally, in the post yesterday 3/9/19 we saw that an airline was ordered to pay $77 Million in damages. We noted that’s not peanuts (pun intended)! The case in the post occurred under CA law, but the way it played out might happen under federal law (or other states' law) too. Flight attendants alleged that Virgin Air did not pay for all hours worked, including those listed in the post. It also alleged that Virgin did not allow for certain breaks or pay minimum or overtime wages. How and why the court decided CA was the appropriate jurisdiction is in the post, along with what happened after that.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure to follow all laws when it comes to your employees, including for pay. It is so much more expensive after the fact than if you do it right at the outset.

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