Firing for political cartoon; workplace face mask messages; condo/HOA special assessment effects; preparing for a business downturn; and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, Sept. 4-10, 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.

former flight attendant sues delta after being fired for sharing anti-trump cartoon on social media

In the post on Sunday 9/4/2022 we saw that a former flight attendant sues Delta after being fired for sharing anti-Trump cartoon on social media. Leondra Taylor filed an employment discrimination lawsuit after she was fired for posting an anti-Trump editorial cartoon on Facebook. Taylor is Black. She admitted posting a cartoon on her personal Facebook page; what it showed is detailed in the post. After Delta reviewed the  Facebook page when prompted by a fellow employee, it found posts that it deemed to be in violation of its social media policy”, according to the lawsuit. In January 2021, a group of Delta employees told Taylor they did not “tolerate disrespectful, hateful or discriminatory posts,” the lawsuit says. And a mere month later, a manager terminated Taylor’s employment for the reason noted in the post. Taylor alleges in her suit that the posts were “political statements, but they were not hateful or discriminatory” and Delta discriminated against her because of her race. What does Taylor’s lawsuit say about her posted cartoon? See the post. The suit alleges that African American employees were also penalized differently by Delta for social media activity. What Taylor seeks in her suit is listed in the post. And Delta’s response to the suit? See the post.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure all policies are legal and communicated to your employees – before you try to enforce them.

BLm messaging on face masks in the workplace – what employers can and cannot restrict or prohibit and why

The post on Monday 9/5/2022 was about BLM messaging on face masks in the workplace – what employers can and cannot restrict or prohibit and why. There was a time when the pandemic was raging and after the death of George Floyd in June 2020 when many employers grappled with whether they could and should regulate the type of face masks worn in the workplace. The appellate courts for the federal First and Third Circuits recently addressed the issue but came to different conclusions. What the First Circuit decided is noted in the post. However, in a Third Circuit decision – which is binding in Pennsylvania – the court enjoined the employer from enforcing a dress code policy that banned employees from wearing BLM face coverings. The difference in outcomes is probably due to the type of employers as noted in the post. The First Circuit decision is discussed in detail in the post. The Third Circuit analyzed a public employer’s policy on First Amendment grounds. There the employees of a public transportation company alleged that their employer violated their First Amendment rights by implementing a dress code that restricted employees from wearing BLM masks. More details on the policy are in the post, including how it was revised in July 2020 and again in September 2020. Both the company and the employees’ union moved for a preliminary injunction. The district (trial) court granted a preliminary injunction, preventing the company from enforcing its mask ban, and the company appealed. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding that the transportation company was unlikely to succeed on the merits but that the union was likely to succeed on the merits. First, the court discussed the speech component – see the post – and found that the two threshold requirements had been met. The court next looked to whether the employer’s interest (detailed in the post) was outweighed by the employee’s interest (again, detailed in the post). On the first prong the court found that the company’s argument failed because the masks bore messages relating to matters of public concern on which the employees had a strong interest in commenting, but on the second prong it found as noted in the post. A key that worked against the employer was how it had enforced its prior ban on buttons; that is discussed in more detail in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know the law that governs your workplace and what you can and cannot enforce against employees – get assistance from an employment lawyer.

can i toke up at my condo (or HOME in an homeonwers’ association)?

The post on Tuesday 9/6/2022 asked: Can I toke up at my condo (or home in an homeowners’ association)?  If you’re the homeowner and you say it’s okay, you might be able to do what you want under appli-cable state law. But a condo or homeowners’ association can set rules banning your ability to puff in your yard, on your porch or in any other space that could fall into the definition of “common area” for the community. The Association might even be able to tell you when and how you can puff indoors. Why is that? See the post. So what can you do if you don’t want this oversight and the possible restrictions? Get out of the association.

TAKEAWAY: Life in a planned or common interest community – condo or homeowners – comes with a set of restrictions that might change over time, but which everyone must live by. Consult a community association lawyer for questions about enforcement.

single unwanted kiss supports cop’s harassment suit, court says

The post on Wednesday 9/7/2022 taught us a single unwanted kiss supports cop’s harassment lawsuit, court says. This type of thing is so fact dependent.  A U.S. appeals court recently said a police lieutenant’s unwanted kiss of a subordinate was “close enough” to sexual harassment to support the officer’s claim that she was unlawfully fired for complaining about it. The federal judicial panel revived a lawsuit by Laura Alkins, saying the kiss from her supervisor at the Sheriff’s Office was severe enough to bolster her claim that she believed she had been sexually harassed. In her 2020 lawsuit, Alkins had claimed she was fired in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in violation of Title VII. A federal trial judge initially dismissed the suit, the basis for which is in the post. The appellate court disagreed, saying “few types of physical contact are more invasive than an open-mouthed kiss.” The court went through past cases to bolster its finding; hat it cited is in the post. Alkins alleged in her lawsuit that she had notified a supervisor about the unwanted kiss, which had happened years earlier, after she was told she would be transferred to the county jail where the lieutenant worked. An investigation into her claim was inconclusive, but what Alkins was then told before being terminated is in the post.

        TAKEAWAY: Train your employees not to act on the edge of legality and know where that edge is legally.

the wireless solution will pay $30,000 to settle eeoc sexual harassment and retaliation case

In the post on Thursday 9/8/2022 we learned that The Wireless Solution will pay $30,000 to settle EEOC sexual harassment and retaliation case. Al Meghani Enterprises, Inc., doing business as The Wireless Solutions, a specialty retailer of wireless products, services and accessories, has agreed to pay $30,000 in damages and furnish other relief in order to settle a lawsuit for sexual harassment and retaliation filed by the EEOC. According to the lawsuit, the company’s store manager discriminated against a female employee by subjecting her to sexual harassment. What the alleged harassment included is listed in the post. The female employee said no. She also asked the manager for the contact information of the company’s owner or corporate office so she could report the harassment. How did the manager, the highest-ranking employee at the location, respond? See the post. Oh, and she was then fired, allegedly in retaliation for opposing the sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The three-year consent decree settling the suit was entered by the judge on August 22, 2022. In addition to the monetary relief there are many other important provisions which are listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Train your employees what not to say or do relative to other employees – and if and when they are out of line, take immediate action to remedy the situation.

war on the shore: the inner turmoil at a wealthy high-rise condo (with problems similar to those in your condo/hoa)

The post on Friday 9/9/2022 was about war on the shore: the inner turmoil at a wealthy high-rise condo complex. Yes, this is like a soap opera, but read to the end because underneath it all the underlying issue is probably similar to one your condo or homeowners’  association has or will face. One would think the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort promises the ultimate in luxury, pampering and serenity. But in the condo community that wraps around the oceanfront spa, providing breath-taking views of beach and ocean, residents feel more insulted and abused than pampered. And they are not serene. Why? The condo dwellers, many of whom are affluent snowbirds from the Northeast seeking a healthy lifestyle, say the spa, hotel and common areas, while still upscale, aren’t what they used to be — or what they were promised. The fight has bounced around the court system for nearly seven years. The judge currently overseeing it steered the enormously complex litigation over the catastrophic collapse of Champlain Towers South. How the Judge characterized the owners is in the post. One might find raucous board meetings, blood feuds and fights over assessments in many associations, but what’s happening at the Carillon stands out. Back in 2015, before things went sour, the Carillon was known as Canyon Ranch, for the acclaimed health-and-wellness outfit that ran the resort to exacting standards. But there was one problem: the hotel and resort were tangled up in bankruptcy. They were bought by Z Capital Group headed by James Zenni (some of whose holdings are detailed in the post). The unit owners asked that Canyon Ranch be retained as the operator of the spa. Z Capital agreed, but it didn’t happen. Then the suit was filed by owners. This year things got spicy. The defendants sent aggressive notices to unit owners, citing “millions in unnecessary legal fees” and imposing special assessments against the unit owners — the folks suing them! Owners were aghast, but turnabout is fair play (and fun for those of us entertained by the beautiful people). Here any units in one of the towers were bought by management rented out, but … see the post as to how that played out. Z Capital was not happy, so it didn’t pay. What did the association do? Again see the post. The judge called a halt to the collection of those legal fees sought by management (and more as noted in the post). But one thing he did require is also in the post – and makes sense. The lawsuit is scheduled to finally go to trial in November. What will need to be explained t , own governing boards that establish assessments against unit owners in their buildings, and a fourth entity, the hotel lot, is in effect the governing body for the hotel, the spa, the restaurant, the elevators and controlled by management with residents having no say. How the hotel lot affects owners in the Towers is explained in the post. Unit owners became suspicious of where the money was going and demanded the right to examine the books and audit the numbers. After that was denied, they filed suit in March 2016. Fast-forward six years and the parties are still at it. Which is a shame given the storied history of the property which is detailed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Minus the glitz and glamor, this is about whether an association fulfills the obligations it has to owners, something that occurs in every community association. Get legal help with any questions about your association.

how to prepare your small business for a potential downturn with a few strategic steps

Finally, in the post yesterday 9/10/2022, we learned how to prepare your small business for a potential downturn with a few strategic steps. Know how to keep your business afloat in times of revenue ebbs and flows. First, lean on the past and what you learned. During the pandemic you probably had to adjust daily operations, vendor management and relation-ships, and how you reach and provide products and services to customers. What you should now do with that information is in the post. Another thing to do is to take what you have learned from the first step and put it into action. When? At the time noted in the post. Three more things that you should do are listed and discussed in the post. All of these together help you take a long view on your business’ success while preparing for a potential downturn in the shorter term. The impact that can have on your bottom line is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Being a successful business owner means knowing how to run the business and when to make changes to the operations – including planning for those changes when they come.