In the post on Sunday 5/8/2022 we were reminded US employers must submit 2021 EEO-1 data to the EEOC by May 17, 2022. It is mandatory that covered employers (see the post if you are unsure who that includes) file a report with certain demographic information on their workforce. Certain federal contractors (again, if you are unsure who, see the post) must also file the report if they are not otherwise exempt from reporting. The EEOC has (supposedly) updated the filing process and made it more user-friendly and streamlined. Some of the new pieces you will see are listed in the post. Also, those employers who previously filed a Type 6 establishment list report must now file a Type 8 establishment report – see the post for more details on who that includes and the differences. The reporting deadline remains the same for those reports.
TAKEAWAY: File the correct report by the deadline – don’t wait and incur penalties for a failure to report.
The post on Monday 5/9/2022 told us Circuit Courts split on standing to sue in ADA Title III website accessibility suits. Why do you care? Because it makes a difference as to who can sue you, and where, over whether your company’s website meets required accessibility standards. The courts were both faced with plaintiffs who did not allege any concrete injury and had no intention of visiting the hotels whose websites were the subject of the suits, but the decisions – based on the same US Supreme Court case and almost identical facts – were contrary. The SCOTUS decision at issue came in Spokeo, Inc. v Robins in 2016. What Spokeo said is that if there is a legal violation, but no concrete harm, then there is nothing over which a federal court has jurisdiction. That of course affects ADA Title III public accommodation (and many other) cases. How that comes up in a Title III case is noted in the post. The first case dealt with the federal Reservations Rule (for which the statutory cite and explanation are in the post). The trial court dismissed the suit because there was no concrete injury and the Plnatiff was a tester so there was no harm. On appeal the 11th Circuit reversed, finding that “frustration and humiliation” suffered by the plaintiff provided standing to sue. The 11th Circuit relied on another Supreme Court case as well as a case it had recently decided (both of which are referenced in the post). At the opposite end of the spectrum was another case under the Reservations Rule. The court also relied on the other SCOTUS case. Here, while the plaintiff admitted to being a tester, he said he might possibly use the website to reserve a room in the future (though he had no such intent at that time). The 2nd Circuit said that because he had no intent to visit the surrounding area near the hotel, his travel was not hampered and so there was no concrete injury.
TAKEAWAY: While neither of these cases governs actions filed in PA, they are educational as for how a court in PA might look at someone’s standing to bring a website accessibility case against your company. Just make it accessible and be done with it.
The post on Tuesday 5/10/2022 showed that S&C Electric Company to pay $315,000 to settle EEOC disability discrimination lawsuit. S&C is a designer and manufacturer of switching and control products for power transmission and distribution. It has HQ in Chicago. It was also the defendant in a suit brought by the EEOC. The suit alleges that a designer who worked there for 52 years (no that is not a typo) was diagnosed with cancer and then broke a hip; he took medical leave. What he did when he was ready to return to work, and how S&C responded, are all in the post. He then filed a charge and the EEOC filed suit after conciliation failed. Now S&C has agreed to settle. There is an 18-month consent order containing a monetary payment and other important relief as noted in the post. The settlement conditions also provide a roadmap reminder of the required accommodation process under the ADA (which is described in the post).
TAKEAWAY: Know your obligations under the ADA – and consult with an employment lawyer to make sure you follow them to a T.
The post on Wednesday 5/11/2022 was about condo/HOA questions (must associations have published guidelines to restrict owner’s pool cage choices ) and the broader underlying lesson. Know how this works in PA. Most homes in planned communities in PA don’t have their own pools, and those that do almost always do not have cages (screened enclosures), but read on. Here the owner had to replace a pool cage due to wind damage. In the absence of an architectural review committee, the Board made approval decisions. What the person applied for, and how that compared to the majority of existing cages, is in the post. The post talks about the procedure (under FL law) but then moved to the substance and whether denial of the request was proper. That is where the roadmap for you in PA comes in. So go back to the post and read that part.
TAKEAWAY: Homes in planned communities, condo and homeowner associations (and cooperatives, but there are few to none of those in Central PA), are governed by documents containing various restrictions and also some procedural things. Know your rights and obligations as an owner or Board member and engage a community association lawyer to assist.
The post on Thursday 5/12/2022 said ‘Stupid…useless’: Ukrainian woman asked to remove ‘Pray for Ukraine’ sign. A woman had a sign in front of her home that read “Pray for Ukraine”. She fled Ukraine in March after the Russian invasion that began in February. She received a letter from the HOA telling her to remove the sign. The letter gave the reason for the requested removal – see the post. It also explained what would happen if the sign were not removed – again see the post. What she then did is in the post – and mimics what another neighbor did in a similar situation several years ago. That neighbor is now supporting her – yep, see the post.
TAKEAWAY: Even enforcement of restrictions and obligations – barring a legal exception to the contrary – is a must in condo and homeowner associations despite the underlying content or substance or other merit. Engage a community association lawyer to help you with your legal issue.
The post on Friday 5/13/2022 noted mask mandates are over on public transit: are they over everywhere? The changing times … On April 22, 2022, a federal court ruled that the CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation exceeded its authority. People everywhere ripped off their masks (ok, while some cowered with their masks still firmly on). On the same day, the City of Philadelphia reinstated its indoor mask mandate. So as things change, things also stay the same. What does that mean? Various mask mandates may be lifted, in whole or in part, but employers must still decide how to keep employees safe while being open for business. There are good reasons for employees to wear masks – see the post for a few. And then the employer must ensure that their decision to remain masked is respected by others who choose to be maskless. So how does an employer balance those interests? Carefully. And legally. For those who are immunocompromised or have young children, some ways to accommodate them are in the post. And even though mask mandates may be on their way out, employers can still require vaccinations. Again, some examples of accommodating those who cannot be vaccinated, or request exemption, are in the post. If employees give you grief, you can note the things listed in the post (including a recent US Supreme Court ruling) as support for a continuing vaccination requirement. And then there are the possible quarantines … Flexibility is needed there too. The CDC has two tools that might be useful, a Quarantine and Isolation Calculator and state-level forecast models of outbreaks from the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics; links to both are in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Employers must be flexible but keep business going; to that end they need to keep employees working and safe, often requiring accommodations that might raise legal issues. Consult an employment lawyer for those.
Finally, in the post yesterday 5/14/2022 we learned the 4 most common interview questions to avoid (and 4 you actually want to ask). It’s that time when college grads (and others) may be looking for jobs so it is important to know what you should and should not ask them in an interview. So that you stay on the right side of legal, do not ask the applicant’s age. In any form. See the post for back-door ways to ask that are still no-no’s. Age has nothing to do with job performance so just don’t go there. Also don’t ask if the applicant has any children. That might run afoul of the EEOC’s guidance on caregiver discrimination – see the post for a link. Two more questions not to ask are also discussed in the post. There are, however, questions you do want to ask that are not illegal and will still let you asses a candidate, such as what it is that they learned bout the company that made them want to apply, what they value most in a job and their employer, and 2 other questions noted in the post.
TAKEAWAY: If you are unsure of the legality of a question to be asked of applicants, run it by your employment lawyer first.