Doctor refused service by Chase due to race; HOA/condo communications; Amazon, religion & discrimination; rights of a job applicant; and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, Mar. 20-26, 2022.

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.

black doctor says refused service at chase because of race – “i felt like a criminal”

In the post on Sunday 3/20/2022 we learned a Black doctor says she was refused service at Chase because of her race: ‘I felt like a criminal’ she said. Let’s look at the facts. Malika Mitchell-Stewart entered a JPMorgan Chase branch in December to open a new account by depositing $16,000, her first paycheck as a doctor. She was sorely disappointed as the bank would not open the account for her. The bank’s actions and statements are noted near the end of the post. And the employees accused her of committing fraud! How Mitchell-Stewart responded is also near the end of the post. She left that day and went back a few days later to file a complaint. What she found out when speaking with a branch manager is also noted near the end of the post. The manager’s final comment (yes, near the end of the post) did not make things any better. So Mitchell-Stewart filed suit in early February 2022. The basis of the suit is described by her lawyer in the post. Chase said it is investi-gating. The facts are not new; “banking while Black” is an experience lived by many in the US. Two examples, from November 2017 and January 2020, are noted in the post. Both resulted in settlements.

TAKEAWAY: Remember that discrimination occurs in areas other than employment – and is still illegal. Know your rights and obligations under the law.

more starbucks locations unionize – and what it might mean to your business

The post on Monday 3/21/2022 told us that more Starbucks locations unionize – and what it might mean to your business. Yes the wave is picking up steam! The first Starbucks locations (2) to unionize were in Buffalo in December, and then there was one in Phoenix in February. Now employees at 3 more locations in the Buffalo, NY area have voted to unionize, making six locations in total. More efforts are under way in over 100 locations in at least 24 other states. The vote tallies for these 3 Buffalo locations were extremely close and are noted in the post. How come are characterizing that closeness – and which Starbuck denies – is also in the post. The vote counts had been delayed because Starbucks filed a complaint with the NLRB; the basis of its complaint is in the post. In early March the NLRB ruled against the complaint. What those in favor of unionizing say they want is near the end of the post.

TAKEAWAY: Take heed of what the organizers want – it is probably the same thing your employees want. Meet their needs now or you too may find yourself on the other end of a unionization drive.

homeowner has legitimate concerns about hoa (or condo) associaiotn communication

The post on Tuesday 3/22/2022 noted homeowner has legitimate concerns about HOA (or condo) association communica-tion. There were questions about how owners should receive notices from the management company (US mail or email), a surprise transition to a new management company, switching landscaping companies, cancel-lation of a scheduled owners’ meeting, and different methods of attendance for Board and owners. Wow! The usual answer to all questions is first to ask what applicable state law provides and then look to the association’s governing documents. There is probably something in the Declaration (CC&Rs), Bylaws or Rules & Regulations that may answer each issue (like the examples in the post). As to contracts with management agents, landscaping contractors and other vendors, the Board (often as delegated to an employee or manager) usually handles those relationships on behalf of the association. But again, there might be parameters or guidelines in state law or the Governing Documents (similar to the examples in the post). Notice of owners’ and Board meetings are also usually governed by the Governing Documents.

TAKEAWAY: So how would these issues play out in PA? In your association? Consult an experienced community association lawyer for the answers.

amazon primes a sunday work dilemma: religious beliefs and discrimination

The post on Wednesday 3/23/2022 showed us that Amazon primes a Sunday work dilemma: religious beliefs and discrimination. You’ve heard of freedom of religion, right? And you’ve heard of Amazon, right? Well now the two intersect because Amazon is expanding its Sunday delivery around the US. That affects many US Postal Service drivers who would otherwise have had a steady day off to attend church services and observe their beliefs they should not work on their Sabbath. The new 7 day a week schedule has already led to 2 lawsuits from drivers fired for not working on Sundays. Both suits have claims of religious discrimination under Title VII. The cases were filed in Florida (by the EEOC, the basis of which is in the post and which just recently settled as noted) and Pennsylvania (where the procedural posture is described in the post). The PA case involves Gerald Groff, an evangelical Christian who started working as a part-time rural mail carrier in 2012. What that entailed is noted in the post. The station with which he contracted then began handling Amazon’s Sunday deliveries so he transferred to a different station. That one later started Sunday deliveries. So what did he try first? See the post. Eventually he was let go. And filed suit for religious discrimination and failure to accommodate (his religious beliefs). Last year both parties filed motions for summary judgment and the federal trial court ruled in favor of the US Postal Service. A link to that decision is in the post (and an interesting read, especially the accommodations offered to Groff by the Postmaster at pages 6-7 of the decision, the analysis of whether there was an adverse decision at pages 16-17, and if and how the USPS met its duty to accommodate at pages 20-21). Even though it didn’t need to, the trial court even delved into undue hardship (as to the accommodation count), something that has been more prevalent given the requested for religious exemption from COVID vaccine mandates. Needless to say, Groff appealed. The case now awaits decision by the Third Circuit.

TAKEAWAY: This issue may affect your business in the future if it does not already, so pay attention. And consult with an employment lawyer to make sure you are doing what you need to under applicable law.

6 questions you should ask before hiring minors to address labor shortage

The post on Thursday 3/24/2022 contained 6 questions you should ask before hiring minors to address the labor shortage in retail (and other sectors). It seems that everyone needs help these days, but does that mean that you should hire minors to fill the positions? One issue to consider is whether there is a higher standard relative to harm to minors from the workplace, especially sexual harassment. Unlike adults, minors may not know how to protect themselves, or even how to recognize the harassment. And then there are the statutory responsibilities and requirements. First there is the Fair Labor Standards Act. While it deals with minimum wages and overtime requirements, it also contains provisions restricting the employment of minors, Many of those are detailed in the post (and depend on age). There might also be state law that deals with the employment of minors, including those working in hazardous occupations. Examples are given in the post. So with all that, what questions should you consider before hiring a minor? First, are there a large number of minors in the area looking for word (so that considering employing minors actually broadens the applicant pool)? Second, What level of employee will be needed in the location to comply with all obligations that hiring minors will bring or entail? Examples of what this means are in the post. The other questions to ask are listed in the post (with examples of why they are important considerations/questions). .  

TAKEAWAY: What your business does or provides might be performed by minors, but know what (additional) obligations or requirements or restrictions might come along with employing minors — before you hire them.

surfside collapse victims sue eighty seven park condo association and construction firms

The post on Friday 3/25/2022 told us that Surfside collapse victims sue Eighty Seven Park condo association and construction firms. Yep, the net keeps getting wider in that disaster. Who is that association? A neighboring luxury tower being partly blamed for the collapse along with firms involved in its construction. The Surfside victims now allege that there was negligence involved with the construction of the 18-story tower built FEET from the collapsed Champlain South tower and that since the association stepped into the shoes of the developers, it too is liable. Some of the allegations against the developers of Eighty Seven Park are noted in the post; the defendants deny the allegations. What engineers said – and the possible effect on Champlain South – is also in the post. Now the amended complaint contains new allegations, including water diversion and dewatering, and explains how they harmed Champlain South – see the post. What could be a huge tie-in between the association and the developers is noted near the end of the post. What is also interesting is the city of Miami Beach’s role in the construction of Eighty Seven Park – see the post.

TAKEAWAY: Construction defect suits are becoming more common after transition from developer (Declarant) to association (owners) but can happen at other times too. Get the right people in place, including a community association lawyer and engineers, to know what your rights and obligations might be.

what are the legal rights of a job applicant?

Finally, in the post yesterday 3/26/2022 we asked: What are the legal rights of a job applicant? Yes, there are legal rights that begin BEFORE employment starts. Employers cannot discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, pregnancy, age, and other protected categories including sexual orientation. There are ways employers try to discourage applications from people they might not want to hire, and many of those are illegal. Examples are in the post along with the topics of questions that cannot be discussed during the application process (and, really, post-hire). Questions should stick to the applicant’s ability to perform the essential duties of the job at issue. Be careful inquiring about criminal history as noted in the post. And what about pre-hire tests? Skills, personality, psychological, drug screening, and physicals. They are allowed, some only after an offer is extended, on the conditions noted in the post. And what about after being hired? Other employee rights (and obligations for employers) kick in.  Some are discussed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know the applicable rights and obligations at all phases of employment, whether employee or employer, and consult an employment lawyer when unsure.

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