The post on Sunday 4/23/2023 told us Aruba Airlines to pay $75,000 to settle EEOC pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The suit alleged that a pregnant employe in the airline’s Miami corporate office was terminated soon after she announced her pregnancy. When conciliation failed, the EEOC filed suit in federal court (in 2023). The airline agreed to non-monetary relief in addition to the $75K; that is described in the post (and is about as important as the monetary sum).
TAKEAWAY: There is no chivalry when it comes to pregnant employes; they are to be treated the same as every other employee unless and until they ask for something (for a valid legal basis).
The post on Monday 4/24/2023 notified us that DOL issues Guidance on Religious Exemption Final Rule FAQs. The Guidance came out March 1st. An important part of the Guidance notes, in relevant part, that “ … qualifying religious employers generally may make decisions about whether to employ individuals based on acceptance of and adherence to religious tenets …”, but what they may NOT do is also in the Guidance. A link to the full Guidance is in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Employers must know what they can and cannot do in the workplace – consulting an employment lawyer is often a good first step.
The post on Tuesday 4/25/2023 was a Reminder: calculating FMLA intermittent leave can result in more (or less) than 480 hours per year. Are you confused? Surprised? You (should) know to whom the FMLA applies and what it allows – if not, that is in the post. And of course you know that it is possible for the leave to be intermittent (or on a reduced schedule) basis. An example of how that would be calculated is in the post. But what if a normal workweek is more or less than a typical 40 hours? Or if the employee works more than 5 days/week or regularly works overtime? Or if the employe only works 30 hours/week? That can all change the FMLA leave calculation. DOL issued Guidance on February 9th as a reminder to employers. A link to the Guidance is in the post. The statute talks of “workweek”, not a defined number of hours or even a workday for the basis of leave. The employee’s normal workweek is what controls the FMLA leave usage and when leave is exhausted. The calculations can differ quite a bit, though, and examples are in the post. And just as important as the leave entitlement calculation is the fact that that leave might be indefinite under some circumstances. For more on that, see our blog including 3/27/2023 at www.austinlawllc.com and this post.
TAKEAWAY: Be sure to calculate FMLA leave entitlement and usage correctly – get legal assistance if needed.
The post on Wednesday 4/26/2023 noted homeowner shocked by HOA’s ‘outdated’ vehicle rules: ‘[They’re] going to discourage people from buying in our community’. That packet of documents you get at or after you agree to buy a home in a condo or homeowners’ association? Yep, it’s legal – and contains restrictions that will affect many facets of your life in the community, including vehicle parking and storage. Electric vehicle ownership is increasing, but community association restrictions have not necessarily been loosened to reflect that increase. Glenn Gordon received a letter from his HOA telling him that his new pickup truck violates the regulations and it cannot be parked in his driveway overnight. Why? Based on the rules (the applicable one of which is described in the post). The HOA will allow it to be parked in Gordon’s garage. And if Gordon leaves it in his driveway? See the post as to what the HOA can do. Gordon is upset with the rules and that they haven’t been updated.
TAKEAWAY: Know the rules and restrictions for vehicles in your condo or homeowners’ association – and follow them unless and until they are changed.
In the post on Thursday 4/27/2023 we learned that a homeowner bypasses HOA aesthetic concerns with solar shingles installation. Interesting (and ingenious). Many community associations have restrictions as to solar panels on house roofs – size, location and more. In Virginia, Jonathan Lockwood found a creative way to get around the restrictions in his HOA. He installed solar shingles – how they work is in the post. Solar shingles are supposed to blend with the existing roof so they don’t have the same aesthetic objections as traditional solar panels. The benefits of solar – and solar shingles – are discussed in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Know what is permissible in your association BEFORE you make any changes, especially expensive ones. Review the Governing Documents and contact a community association lawyer.
The post on Friday 4/28/2023 told us that SCOTUS declines to hear former Proctor & Gamble employee’s gender bias case. There is helpful information for employers and employees here. In late March the Court turned down the appeal of a decision by the 11th Circuit. The decision came out July 2022 and the appeal (a writ of certiorari) was filed in January 2023. Let’s look at a bit of background. Gladden was fired for allegedly violating P&G’s polices on vendor contracts and more as noted in the post. She sed. The Circuit Court said that she didn’t show that P&G’s reasons for firing her were pretextual (what that means – and what she did not show – are in the post). In her cert petition Gladded argued that the Circuit Court’s pretext analysis was improper and that multiple factors can be the cause for termination. Based on the denial of the cert petition, the Circuit Court’s analysis remains the law in that Circuit. It is also similar to how other Circuits have ruled as noted in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Employers should maintain documentation of the reason(s) for termination (or other adverse action) in case they need to later defend the action.
Finally, in the post yesterday 4/29/2023, we read that the EEOC sues Otis Elevator Co. for refusing to accommodate worker with ADHD, autism. In late March 2023 the EEOC filed suit in federal court alleging that Otis did not offer reasonable accommodation to an assistant mechanic with a disability – and then retaliated against him by keeping him on unpaid leave. The employee started to work for Otis in 2021. His medical condition (described in the post) affected his ability to think and concentrate on construction sites – how is also noted in the post. He requested a reasonable accommodation (reassignment as detailed in the post) and talked with HR about finding a position that would accommodate his disabilities, but he was denied. There were times when he was relocated to a work site that met his accommo-dation needs, but other times not. The employee even noted the safety factor as part of his requested accommodation (see the post), but apparently that didn’t matter to Otis. Shortly after that he was put on unpaid leave – the basis for the leave is in the post. And then Otis would not let him return to work; what it did instead is in the post. The EEOC’s suit asks for back pay, front pay, damages, and injunctive relief.
TAKEAWAY: Employers must be aware of their obligations relative to ALL disabilities, hidden and overt, and follow the required interactive process. An employment lawyer can help navigate the legal web.