ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Dec. 1 – 7, 2019

Below is a review of the posts (on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter) from the past week. You can check out the full posts by clicking on the links.

In the post on Sunday 12/1/19 we learned about a man who files lawsuit saying he was denied job for using medical marijuana. Not necessarily uncommon these days. So, what happened here? Derek alleges that he was denied a job that he had been offered because he tested positive for THC – but he is a registered medical marijuana user. What does PA law say? See the post. And what does federal law provide? See the post (in case you don’t know). Resolution will probably take a judicial decision (or act of Congress).

TAKEAWAY: Employers must follow applicable federal and state law – and have a tough choice when there is a conflict. Consult an employment lawyer to assist.

The post on Monday 12/2/19 told us that the EEOC settled a discrimination lawsuit with a property management company. The suit was about disability. Here, the employer, Verity, offered an applicant a different job than the admin assistant position for which she applied. The post notes what position was offered to her. On her first day of work, drug tests showed that she took medicine for a medical condition. What the employer did and said is in the post. On Day 2, she was discharged. The EEOC filed suit on her behalf after conciliation failed. And now there is a settlement in place. Verity will pay her $22,500 and take the other steps listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t assume someone is disabled – that’s illegal; rather, provide the essential duties of the position and wait for the person to request accommodation if needed.

The post on Tuesday 12/3/19 noted that it’s that time of year … family ordered to take down Christmas decorations because it’s too early. We asked what are your Association’s rules on this? The Simmons family decorated on November 1. They then got a letter from their homeowners’ association – what it said is in the post. Also, what the letter did not say is in the post – and that’s what is most upsetting to the Simmonses. How they plan to proceed – and neighbors’ reactions – is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know the rules in any planned community – and follow them. They should be evenly enforced.

The post on Wednesday 12/4/19 taught us that the phrase ‘OK, Boomer’ used at work could violate federal protections. Apparently, this is a new catch phrase, at least on social media. And it is also apparently not sitting well with younger people. So, what might happen in the employment law arena? Even if not intended as an insult, it could have legal implications as noted in the post. The phrase in a vacuum probably will have no impact, but in certain situations (for which some examples are in the post), it might implicate legal rights or damages. Know the law.

TAKEAWAY: Train managers – and all employees – on what they can and cannot say, along with the consequences if they violate what they are taught. Consult an employment lawyer with questions.

In the post on Thursday 12/5/19 we asked: Is Sesame Street in the US ready for LGBTQ characters? Have you ever wondered if Bert and Ernie are gay? Muppets have no sex(uality); if they did, Sesame Street could be affected as noted in the post. But humans are sexual, and many identify as LGBTQ. So, should Sesame Street characters reflect the world around them? It’s a hard call given the serious differences between countries when it comes to sexual orientation (see the post). So, could (or should) an LGBTQ character be added for US showings? That would seem to be in line with other things Sesame Street has done as listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Our culture has evolved, and Sesame Street has evolved some. Is it time for more movement on the LGBTQ front for Sesame Street?

The post on Friday 12/6/19 told us that “simple teasing” doesn’t amount to discrimination – or does it? Here, a nurse had conflicts with co-workers, filed a complaint with HR, and then resigned. She then filed suit, claiming a hostile work environment. What were the conflicts? A co-worker started to sing the USA for Africa song “We Are The World” after this happened; the same co-worker also did the other thing noted in the post. How the trial court ruled is in the post. On appeal, the decision was upheld for the reasons noted in the post – including why her claim would fail even if there had been an HWE.

TAKEAWAY: Normally, one (or sometimes a few) instance of verbal or physical harassment or discrimination will not suffice in court – but it depends on the case-specific circumstances.

Finally, in the post yesterday 12/7/19 we learned about Netflix and MoNique’s race and gender discrimination lawsuit (and asked if it would be heard in (judicial) court or the court of public opinion (or both))? So, in case you are unaware, here’s what happened. MoNique sued Netflix for race and gender discrimination. She alleges that she was offered only the amount in the post for a one-hour special, while male and white female comedians (some of whom are named in the post) were paid in the multi-millions. As additional support for her suit, MoNique noted the number of black members of Netflix’s board (see the post). How will this end?

TAKEAWAY: Discrimination happens at every level – employers must be aware of their rights and their obligations toward employees and stay on the right side of legal.

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