In the post on Sunday 10/17/2021 we saw that Dell to pay $75,000 to settle an EEOC equal pay lawsuit. The suit alleges that Kea Golden worked as an IT analysis for Dell starting in September 2017; at that time, she had 24 years of IT experience. Dell hired away Golden and 3 male IT coworkers from the same company. While employed by Dell, Golden performed the same tasks, assignment and work as one of the other male coworkers. What they were paid is in the post. Conciliation failed so the EEOC filed suit. The statutory basis for the suit is in the post. After that, the parties reached a settlement whereby Dell will pay $75,000 to Golden and do a lot of other things as listed in the post.
TAKEAWAY: When employees are doing the same work, pay them the same (unless there is a valid legal explanation for the difference, knowing that sex/gender will never be a legal justification).
The post on Monday 10/18/2021 was about weathering an employer’s duties during the storm – hurricane season is not over yet. Whether for the remainder of this season or 2022 and beyond, employers everywhere should have an emergency preparedness plan for bad weather (be it hurricane, tornado, or other). While the plan should consider employee safety, continuity of operations and records and asset preservation, there are also HR-related legal issues and liability to take into consideration before, during and after the storm. One thing employers must decide when a storm approaches is where to require employees to report to work and take adverse action against those who refuse. The post contains what is probably the answer to both of those questions. And when employees are excused from reporting to work during the storm, does the employer have to pay them? It depends if they are exempt or non-exempt workers. The distinction is discussed in the post. USERRA may also come into play if employees are called up by the National Guard or Reserves, so know that law’s provisions (some of which are noted in the post). And what about after the storm, when an employee cannot get to work dur to transportation issues occasioned by the storm? How an employer treats that absence, and whether the employee must be paid, are discussed in the post. The answers might be a bit muddied if the employee works remotely and can still perform some or all duties form home – see the post. Employers must also know if and how the FMLA, ERISA, COBRA and other laws noted I the post may come into play if the business cannot reopen for an extended period after the storm.
TAKEAWAY: All employers everywhere should have a plan to deal with bad weather; ensure all parts of the plan are legally compliant by consulting an employment lawyer.
The post on Tuesday 10/19/2021 argued that religious exemptions to the vaccine should be rare but should exist. As more and more private employers are imposing COVID vaccine mandates, and the federal govern-ment, contractors, and large employers face a similar mandate, the legal exemptions from vaccination have come front and center. One basis is medical, the other is religious. The post starts out citing to a former pastor who says there is “no actual religious basis for exemptions from vaccine mandates in any established stream of Christianity.” But is that correct? For example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an official policy and stance noted in the post. But what if someone’s religious beliefs differ from that of the authorities of their denomination? The exemption does not depend on who is right or wrong, but whether the beliefs are sincerely held. What the possible exemption from a COVID vaccine mandate does NOT protect is noted in the post, along with the steps to go through to receive an exemption. The hurdles are high and possible accommodations will vary from workplace to workplace; some examples are noted in the post. For those working remotely, the second step may be easier, but they still need to clear the first hurdle (as noted in the post).
TAKEAWAY: When requesting or considering providing an exemption from a COVID vaccination mandate for religious reasons, consult with a knowledgeable employment lawyer.
The post on Wednesday 10/20/2021 noted that electric vehicles could complicate condo or HOA cost-sharing (aka common expenses). We asked what your association would do/does? The issue of electric vehicle charging (stations) comes up more frequently in the high-rise condominium context where there is only 1 building, but it can come up in any planned community. If the Association pays for electric to a common element, for example the large high-rise or a clubhouse, and someone with an electric car plugs in there, who pays for the increased cost for the electricity? The simple (and probably best) answer is in the post – with a description as to why it should work. But what if that is not the case or does not work? Then the Association must consider alternatives including those noted in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Associations must plan now for increased electrical vehicle charging needs in the future and the possible effect on common expenses.
In the post on Thursday 10/21/2021 we discussed how HOAs and condos can protect deliveries. Security is a concern whether there is one large building with all units, attached townhomes, or single-family detached homes. Thieves can come into any of those types of communities and steal an increased number of items that are being delivered to owners. So, what are some tips for owners? First, schedule deliveries, especially for expensive items, for a time the owner will be there to receive it. Next, notify someone else (a trusted person like a relative or neighbor) that a package is expected so they can be on the lookout or even retrieve and hold the package for the owner. More tips are in the post.
TAKEAWAY: While associations may not be the guardians of the security of deliveries to owners, they can certainly suggest and assist with facilitation of the deliveries into the hands of owners and not thieves.
The post on Friday 10/22/2021 taught us about President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandates: what they do and whom do they affect? The Executive Order focuses on 3 main groups: federal employees, federal contractors, and workers at companies with 100 or more employees. So, what does the EO require: That unvaccinated federal employees and contractors get vaccinated within 75 days or suffer consequences that escalate as noted in the post. A rule coming out of the DOL will require large employers to impose vaccine mandates or face weekly testing (with more as noted in the post). It is expected that about 80 million private-sector workers will be affected by this. But wait, it’s broader than that. The EO also covers workers in most healthcare settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements (so another 50,000 or so workers) including nursing homes. And what if the larger employers do not comply? There are fines and a reporting system as described in the post. The basis for the EO is also described in the post. Will there be legal challenges to the EO? Probably, but unless and until a court halts its operation or overturns it, the EO is effective.
TAKEAWAY: Employers must know their rights and obligations including under this new Executive Order. Bring in an employment lawyer to ensure compliance.
Finally, in the post yesterday 10/23/2021, we saw that a public-school employee files lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Down the road in Maryland, employees of a county public school system had to get their first COVID vaccine shot by September 30th. One administrator (who chose to remain anonymous) filed suit, alleging a violation of his religious rights. The suit alleges that he applied for an exemption from the mandate on religious grounds but was denied – and told that there would be no religious exemptions. The post includes the basis on which he sought an exemption and the basis upon which the suit was filed. The mandate includes exemptions for medical reasons, but not religious reasons, But something interesting occurred at the initial hearing in the suit – see the post.
TAKEAWAY: a request for accommodation for religious exemption from a vaccine mandate is not the end, but only the start of the process that must occur to decide if the exemption is valid and can be accommodated (2 entirely different things). Again, get legal assistance.