$1.25M settlement to Black workers, revoking ex-employees’ data privileges, Board regulation of common property/amenities in condos/HOAs, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week – Sept. 6 – 12, 2020.

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 9/6/20 we saw that an electrical firm is to pay $1.25M to eight Black former employees in EEOC case. The EEOC alleged that Air Systems Inc. is an electrical subcontractor at the construction project for Apple Inc.’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California. The allegations of racial harassment included racist graffiti of swastikas and racial epithets drawn on the walls of the Apple Park construction project’s portable toilets, as well as more as noted in the post. Moreover, the EEOC alleged that the company also failed to act when notified by two Black employees that a white coworker had taunted them with racial pejoratives. The EEOC charged the company with violating Title VII. As part of the settlement, the company will pay monetary damages as well as take the other actions noted in the post. How the EEOC characterized and summed up the case is also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Treat all employees equally and do not differentiate or take adverse action based on  a protected characteristic. It is really that simple.

The post on Monday 9/7/20 asked about Access Denied? COVID-19 complicates revoking ex-employee’s data privileges. We know that the coronavirus has resulted in a massive amount of work being done remotely. It has also led to many many layoffs. Together, those two factors are creating yet another potential security and regulatory risk for employers: it is harder to revoke data access and get back company-owned IT equipment. The process of revoking data access privileges starts as noted in the post. Getting the employee to return all your technology, intellectual property, and any other equipment the employee may have been using can be more difficult. Again, the start of the process is as noted in the post. And what if they are using their own equipment and devices to access company data? See the post. Just as when an employee is terminated in person, certain precautions should be taken when they are terminated remotely. The post contains some tips.

TAKEAWAY: The right to terminate employees (for a legal basis) does not end when the work is done remotely; it just ends the way in-person terminations were always done and makes employers have in place a system that is legal and intended for remote workers. Consult employment law counsel.

The post on Tuesday 9/8/20 was about COVID-19 and planned community common areas: Does the Board have the authority to  regulate access to the property? Can it limit use to residents only? Within certain limited hours or days? Possibly. The federal government could issue an Order or directive superseding the board’s authority. Likewise, the Governor could do the same. Other than that, see the post and applicable Governing Documents.

TAKEAWAY: An Association’s Board is the body charged with making decisions for members; some of those decisions must be made for public health and safety reasons involving the use of common property. Consult an attorney well-versed in community association law to be sure.

The post on Wednesday 9/9/20 taught us what manufacturers should know about the EEOC. Many manufacturers may be used to dealing with the NLRB or dept. of Labor. Regardless, it is the EEOC that enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee or a job applicant based on membership in protected classes. Who is a covered employer? See the post. And what does the EEOC investigate and care about? Discrimination, disability and religious accommodation, and the other areas mentioned in the post. And one simple charge can give the EEOC an opening to explore other claims, such as those noted in the post. To date in 2020, the EEOC has forced large public settlements from manufacturers to resolve pending lawsuits and even to resolve pre-suit charges, with some settlement amounts reaching close to seven figures. And what could be the worst part about a settlement? See the post.

TAKEAWAY: Even in the manufacturing workplace, consult employment law counsel to ensure you stay on the right side of legal relative to employees and applicants.

The post on Thursday 9/10/20 was a history lesson: In the 1970s, a new law allowed women to establish their own credit! And what was the law? The 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) which allowed a woman to get credit separate from her husband. What else the law did is listed in the post. And ECOA was truly necessary: the idea that single women wouldn’t be able to obtain credit while making an income was absurd, but what about women who chose to stay home with children? And other situations mentioned in the post? Other protections for women also were put in place in the 1970s – see the post.

TAKEAWAY: Today, women purchase as much, if not more, than men, using credit on many occasions; hats off to ECOA!

The post on Friday 9/11/20 told us the EEOC is debating authority for Title VII bias suits. And yes, this might affect you. In late August, the EEOC met behind closed doors to discuss its authority under Section 706; it also teased publishing guidance. Section 707 has been used against companies such as Cintas Corp and CVS Pharmacy in “pattern and practice” suits. But what does that Section 706 do and how does it differ from Section 707? See the post. You as an employer care because of the potential damages available under each section. There is a question as to whether what is available under Section 707 is also available under Section 706 – see the post for what is at issue. There is also a threshold question of whether the EEOC can bring suit without an underlying complaint or charge. Other issues are also outstanding, with federal appellate courts taking different stances. See the post for examples.

TAKEAWAY: The law is extensive, but what it may or may not cover and how it is to be interpreted are still up for grabs in many ways – contact an employment lawyer to protect your rights and advise of your obligations.

Finally, in the post yesterday 9/12/20,  we talked about At Work: unfair or unlawful? HINT: Only a lawyer  knows. Why? Because employers are free to act as they please unless they violate the law. That includes salary, benefits, and more. A few types of things that might be unfair  are in the post. Whether those same things are unlawful is up to an attorney to initially determine and can be based on severity and more as noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers are allowed to act in ways that are dumb or  unfair or seem to be bad for business; but when there might be something illegal, it is time to consult an employment lawyer.

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