Apple target of more suits, EEOC’s AI initiative, fee increases in HOA/condo associations, remote work as an accommodation, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, Nov. 14-20, 2021.

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.

ex-employees sue apple for age and gender discrimination. is this a cultural issue there?

In the post on Sunday 11/14/2021 we learned that ex-employees slam Apple with suits claiming age and gender discrimination.  Two separate suits were filed. In the most recent, filed in June, Catherine Vartuli alleges that she was penalized and discriminated and retaliated against after discovering and reporting to her manager that she was paid less than half what her male peers were paid. This preceded Apple’s recent filing of Janneke Parrish, an organizer of the AppleToo movement (which has the purpose noted in the post) and Ashley Gjowik, a program manager (why? See the post). And that’s not all; in February a suit was filed by former finance director Bernadette Alexander on the basis of age discrimination and retaliation. But let’s go back to Vartuli first. She started working for Apple in 2015. How she says she found out she was paid less than male peers is noted in the post. She complained in Spring 2019 and was then put under investigation. In June, Apple accused her of something (as noted in the post). On July 5, she was fired (the reason for which is in the post). Her suit alleges that she received a positive eval not long before termination and that the discharge caused her to lose stock valued at $1.2M. Prior to discharge, Vartuli worked in a group of about 300 people, only three of whom were women (including her); She was the highest-ranking woman and had 19 direct reports. And what about the earlier suit by Alexander? She was discharged in October (although her suit had ben filed in February). Alexander worked at Apple for more than 13 years. Her suit claims that things changed when she got a new manager in 2017 and that he was clear about a preference for younger workers (Alexander’s age is noted in the post). She says she was told  by him to hire younger people whether or not they were qualified. One verbatim comment he made to her is in the post.  In February 2019 the manager made a change that adversely affected her; the post details what happened. In May 2019, while at a meeting of the global finance team, Alexander heard comments about worker age by other executives. Some of those comments are in the post (and just wow). As of October, Apple had not commented about either suit.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure decisions about all aspects of employment are performance-based. Period.

EEOC’s artificial intelligence (AI) initiative – get ahead of the curve.

The post on Monday 11/15/2021 gave us a look into the future: EEOC announces artificial intelligence initiative. The announcement was made on October 28, 2021 and is aimed at ensuring that AI and similar tools use in hiring and other employment decisions comply with federal civil rights laws. The application process often includes online job postings, web-based applications and questionnaires, computer-aided screening tools, and video conference interviews and presentations. And what else are employers doing to target and rand candidates in this new world? See the post. But none of this means that existing laws have gone by the wayside. To the contrary, they are more important than ever – see the post for the EEOC’s rationale as to why. One big priority that is implicated is systemic discrimination. The five prongs to the new initiative are noted in the post. So, what does this all mean for employers? IT means that employers must sit up and take notice and (re)examine what they are doing and how they do it to ensure compliance with existing laws. And if and when the EEOC investigates a complaint, they need to act as noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers often purchase software developed by third parties for use in the application and screening process; you need to understand how the algorithms work to ensure there is no built-in discrimination or bias. Contact an employment lawyer for assistance before you land in court.

holiday inn express fined in pregnancy discrimination suit – and more.

The post on Tuesday 11/16/2021 told us the Holiday Inn Express was fined $30,000 in pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The suit was filed by the EEOC against an LLC operating as a franchise of the Holiday Inn chain. Why? Allegedly the company’s operations manager told an employee that she noticed her stomach, a reference to her being pregnant. And there were more comments such as what is noted in the post. Then the manger fired the employee (with the clear statement in the post). When conciliation failed, the EEOC filed suit. Not only has it agreed to pay $30,000 as part of the settlement, but it also agreed to non-monetary relief as listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Pregnancy is not a disability; protect your business by training managers to treat pregnant employees just like all other employees.

hoarders in homeowner and condo associations; what to do?

The post on Wednesday 11/17/2021 was about HOA/condo: neighbors and hoarder’s unkempt home. We asked what your association would do in this situation. The post here recommends a letter from the management company (or even fines if allowed by the Governing Documents). But then what? It may be time to engage a community association lawyer to ask a court for an injunction. What that is, and the possible limitations even after getting an injunction, are in the post. And then the association still has to consider its possible obligation to accommodation  under the FHA (or state law). Some possible twists and turns on that road are noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Get a community association lawyer involved early to make sure everything that must be done is done and timely.

fee increases in condo and homeowner associations – how and what to tell owners

In the post on Thursday 11/18/2021 we had Q&A: How should a condo (or HOA) board tell residents about a fee increase? And not even just new owners, but all owners. What if it is an anticipated or known future increase but not here yet? These are all part of the budgeting process. In Pennsylvania, information such as this might affect the resale certificate. Other ways to notify owners of increases – and explain the basis for the increase – are listed in the post.  

TAKEAWAY: Be transparent and let owners know what goes into the budget and any resulting assessment. Consult a community association lawyer if needed.

medical testing supplies distributor sued for race discrimination

The post on Friday 11/19/2021 told us American Screening LLC, a medical testing supplies distributor, was sued for race discrimination. The suit was filed by the EEOC in late October. The EEOC alleges that the company interviewed and selected someone for an office job.  The employee wore a wig with straight hair. About a month into the job, the employee stopped wearing the wig. How she wore her hair, and the common associations with that style, is noted in the post. The owner told the managers to talk to the employee about her hair; some of the direction and comments are in the post. Undercutting the owner’s direction, however, was the fact that other employees were allowed to wear their hair in the same style. Then the owner stepped in – see the post. When the employee did not comply, she was fired. With whom she was replaced is also noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know the law – don’t take adverse action against an employee for something that is not job-related. Consult an employment lawyer if needed to make sure you are on the right side of legal before stepping off the cliff (like the owner in this post).

assessing the use of remote work as an ada accommodation

Finally, in the post yesterday 11/20/2021, we learned about assessing the use of remote work as an ADA accommodation. It was not uncommon for employers to offer no option for remote work prior to March 2020. But then COVID-19 hit and a substantial portion of jobs moved to a remote setting. While that transition was odd – and even difficult – for some employees, it was a boon for those with disabilities. The question now is whether employers can require those employees to return to the office. The EEOC issued its initial Guidance on that question in September 2020 (the link to which is in the post) both relative to COVID and in the general context also. COVID changed some things (as noted in the post) but a return to the office post-COVID (with necessary safety precautions in place) may or may not require accommodations for those with disabilities. Steps for an employer to follow as part of the reasonable accommodation process are listed generally in the post. Remote work may not be the end offering by the employer, but the process must be followed. The EEOC’s guidelines (linked I the post) offer a list of possible accommodation in various situations and when something might qualify as an undue hardship). Also helpful to employers (and employees) is the government-funded Job Accommodation Network (again, the link is in the post). This is a free service providing ideas about effective accommodations; some of what it does is discussed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know when the obligation to begin the interactive reasonable accommodation process begins and what your obligations are, including whether there is a need to offer remote work. Get an employment lawyer involved early on to keep you and the legal path.

Skip to content