The post on Sunday 5/14/2023 was about keeping up with the EEOC: 5 takeaways from its algorithm rewriting settlement. In late March the EEOC announced a settlement with DHI Group, Inc., a job search website operator; the EEOC found ‘reasonable cause” to believe that job ads posted by DHI’s customers violated Title VII in one particular way (noted in the post). A link to the EEOC’s press release is also in the post. So, what can employers learn from this settlement? First, make sure certain terms/words do not appear in any ads,, including those noted in the post (and for which DHI must now rewrite its programming and “scrape”). Next, make sure your clients/customers don’t violate the law when it relates to what you do for them. (How that played out for DHI and its customers is in the post.) There are also 3 more tips and they too are in the post.
TAKEAWAY: AI is huge and so is the EEOC’s enforcement effort. Know what you can and cannot do in the hiring process (and after).
The post on Monday 5/15/2023 noted a disability advocacy nonprofit was sued for disability discrimination. Ironic. Achilles International is a nonprofit that helps connect people with disabilities to athletic opportunities. It is also now the defendant in a federal suit brought by a former employee under the ADA. McKinney had worked a desk job since 2013. She had medical issues (see the post) and an approved accommodation based on her medical condition (the post also details the accommodation). In 2019 a new CEO came in and rescinded the accommodation. When McKinney tried to explain her need for the accommodation, the CEO wanted nothing to do with it. But that same person allowed a worker without disabilities to work remotely for the reason noted in the post. Then in September 2020 McKinney was furloughed. She was asked to sign an agreement (the contents of which are described in the post) but did not. Achilles fired her in March 2021 and was told that her position was being eliminated. But o and behold, shortly after a nondisabled employee was put in that position. McKinney’s suit also alleges a systemic discharge of disabled employees. And what has Achilles said about the suit? See the post.
TAKEAWAY: Don’t take adverse action against someone based on their disability – rather, once they request accommodation, work through the interactive process and fulfill your obligations under the ADA.
The post on Tuesday 5/16/2023 was about condo election fraud: a mixed verdict. Elections in a condo or homeowner’s association might seem like nothing, but they often represent big stakes for owners. How big? A municipal official was on the wrong end of a verdict in a trial for allegedly fixing a condo board election in 2019. Victor Rios, 80, was convicted on 3 counts (see the post) and acquitted of 2 counts (also in the post). All counts on which he was convicted are third-degree felonies that carry prison sentences. So, what did he (allegedly) do? Alter ballots to make it look like residents who did not vote had voted for him. The voting rate raised suspicions (see the post). It was a contentious election and 2 residents wanted to see ballots (which was their right). They found what appeared to be irregularities (as described in the post) and later DNA testing – yes, DNA testing for a condo board election! – proved them out (again, see the post). Rios had been elected to city council in 2014 but resigned mid-term in Oct. 2020, four months prior to being charged with the counts related to the condo board election.
TAKEAWAY: Not only can election irregularities violate an association’s governing documents or state law, so too they might carry criminal penalties. Get a community association lawyer involved.
The post on Wednesday 5/17/2023 said a former employee files gender discrimination lawsuit against AARP. The suit was filed against a state office of AARP and its director, Gregory Marchildon, alleging gender discrimination and breach of contract. Philene Taormina worked there for 20 years as associate director of advocacy before being terminated in August 2022. The suit says that Marchildon was Taormina’s supervisor for 18 years; how he allegedly treated her during that time is in the post (and is not favorable). He allegedly also discriminated against her based on gender by taking full credit at AARP’s national office for things they accomplished and – yes there’s more – gave credit for her work to a male attorney who was a friend of Marchildon. Taormina reported the issues to AARP but allegedly it did nothing (which was then followed by further action by Marchildon as noted in the post).
TAKEAWAY: Treat all employees the same, regardless of protected characteristic; that can only land you in legal hot water.
In the post on Thursday 5/18/2023 we saw an ex-Tesla factory worker testifies in racial discrimination trial. Owen Diaz is a Black former escalator worker at a Tesla factory. He filed suit over claimed racial discrimination when he worked there from mid-2015 – 2016. He says his coworkers subjected him to racially discriminatory comments and actions. He testified to many things, including his first complaint (filed in 2017) based on how he was addressed (take a deep breath then look at the post). In 2021 tesla said that Diaz was not an employee, but rather a contract worker for another company – and that the use of “racial slurs (including the n-word)” were used in a “friendly” manner. Tesla also then took the actions noted in the post. There are also other allegations about Tesla and its racial discrimination – see the post. At one point Tesla’s lawyer told the jury that while racial discrimination at the factory was indefensible, the claims by Diaz were exaggerated and Diaz may not have suffered psychological damage. More background: the first trial in this case was in 2021; there was a HUGE jury verdict in favor of Owens (how huge? See the post) but the judge reduced it to $15 million; Tesla, however, did not accept that and decided to go for a new trial.
TAKEAWAY: Question: can racial slurs (including the n-word) ever be used in a “friendly” manner? Do you really want to find out (in a court of law or public opinion)?
The post on Friday 5/19/2023 was about homeowners concerned over who’s paying to fix subdivision roads. Many associations have this issue, so let’s take a look. In the post, even the state legislature is getting involved because roads and infrastructure in planned communities are not being built property (the ramification of which is in the post). One potential way to lessen the harm is to require bonds for some (or all) of the cost. But what happens when the developer transfer control to the association? It may depend on state law. Or the owners may be left holding the bag …
TAKEAWAY: make sure all work the developer is to do in your association gets done and done right. Contact a community association lawyer if there are issues.
Finally, in the post yesterday 5/20/2023, we saw a parent fired for taking time off after child’s birth was awarded more than $67,000 in FMLA case. Federal officials say a parent was wrongfully terminated from his job for taking time off from work to care for his newborn baby and spouse which is a violation of the FMLA. The subject employer is U.S. Logistics Solutions Inc. It has been ordered to pay damages (as noted in the post). So, what’s the background? US Logistics withheld parental leave from a dock supervisor at a distribution center despite being aware of the birth of the employee’s child. Then shortly after they met with him on several issues (noted in the post). At that meeting he was terminated. Oh, we’re not done yet, A week later, US Logistics said it had canceled the employee’s FMLA request before the child was born but had failed to inform the employee before terminating him, officials said. Ugh. Yep, FMLA violation (see the post for a reminder as to FMLA details). Here the employee wanted FMLA leave for parental bonding and to care for a spouse with a qualifying health condition, which meets the FMLA’s guidelines. So what will the employee get now? Monetary damages (to compensate for the items listed in the post).
TAKEAWAY: Know the law – and your obligations as an employer and the rights of employees too.