ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Jan. 5 – 11, 2020: settlement of cases arising from stupidity, Chipotle, FMLA, religious discrimination, Uber, and more.

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.

In the post on Sunday 1/5/20, we saw that American Woodmark will pay $25,000 to settle an EEOC disability discrimination suit. Yes, this is an example of costly stupidity easily avoidable. So, what happened? The EEOC alleged that the employer denied a request for accommodation. What did Erica request? See the post. And instead of just granting the request, the employer took the action noted in the post. Ugh. Now, besides paying monetary relief, the company must create and implement an ADA policy and take the other actions noted in the post.

            TAKEAWAY: Know what you can and cannot do, and must or must not do, when an employee requests an accommodation. Consult an employment lawyer to be sure.

The post on Monday 1/6/20 we learned that Chipotle did not discriminate against undocumented workers (or so says a federal court). Here, two employees filed national origin claims. Both employees are Mexican and undocumented. They alleged that their supervisor reduced the work hours for undocumented, Spanish-speaking employees, gave the hours to documented, English-speaking employees, and the other things noted in the post. How and why the federal court ruled as it did is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Remember that both state and federal laws may apply to any given situation, so know all of them – and be able to legally justify any adverse action you take against a protected employee.

The post on Tuesday 1/7/20 was about the FMLA: employee leave to care for an adult child. Yes, the FMLA is broader than you may remember. It can cover leave to care for an adult son or daughter if that child is unable to care for her/himself. Top what the statute applies is in the post as a reminder. In this case, the employee who requested leave worked at a state=run psychiatric center. The leave was to care for her 31-year-old daughter and her grandsons after their mother’s surgery. Why the employer denied the leave request is in the post. The employee sued. On summary judgment, the employer relief on the lack of proof of its lack of willfulness to violate the FMLA. The court disagreed for the reasons noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know the law – and how an employee can be eligible for its protection. Consult an employment lawyer to protect your interests.

The post on Wednesday 1/8/20 told us about a religious discrimination fair housing case that settled for $40,000. We suggested you take heed. As relates to homes in a homeowners’ or condominium association, state law may apply, but there is also the federal Fair Housing Act. Here, a condo owner alleged that the Association (and its management agent) refused to permit her to put a mezuzah on her front door. If you are unfamiliar with what a mezuzah is, check the post. Why she was refused is also in the post. So, she sued. The suit noted her request, the denial, alleged basis of legal violation, and that the mezuzah was forcibly removed from the door. After mediation, the case settled for $40K and the other thigs noted in the post.   

            TAKEAWAY: As with anything, an association may have a rule or restriction, but the law may require that it be waived in certain circumstances. Consult a community lawyer to make sure your intended action will not land you in legal hot water.

In the post on Thursday 1/9/20 we saw that the EEOC sued Blackstone Consulting, Inc. for national origin discrimination. Why? The employer allegedly hired a Salvadoran woman as a part-time cleaner. Did it know she spoke Spanish? Oh yes – see the post. She may not have spoken English well, but her job performance was satisfactory. About 2 months into her employment, she went to another location for a uniform. A manager screamed at her, made a derogatory comment about Hispanics, and made the statement in the post. He then terminated her employment and told her how she could get the job back (see the post). She went to the EEOC. Clearly conciliation failed as the EEOC filed suit.

TAKEAWAY: We keep saying it: train your managers as to what they can and cannot say or do, especially regarding a protected class or characteristic, and take appropriate action if they go against their training.

The post on Friday 1/10/20 took us back to school: A kindergarten bars boys from wearing ear studs and the parents sue for sex discrimination. Here the school is a public charter school. It had some differing grooming policies/standards for boys and girls. As noted in the post, that is what may get an employer (or in this case, a school) in trouble. Here, the school had various policies, including that “appropriate undergarments must be worn and not visible. Camis for girls and undershirts for boys …”, “tattoos and body piercings, other than girls’ earrings, are not allowed …”, “Jewelry other than watches for boys or girls, and small earrings on girls …”, and more listed in the post. Yes, the school did respond to the suit – see the post – and pointed its (figurative) finger.

            TAKEAWAY: Unless there is a valid, legal reason to differentiate based on a protected characteristic, here sex (and we will soon find out if that includes sexual orientation), don’t do it. Just don’t.

Finally, in the post yesterday 1/11/20, we read that Uber is to pay $4.4 million to settle a sexual discrimination Yep, that’s a lot of miles … Ok, so what happened? A charge was filed in 2017, the EEOC investigated, and it found probable cause “that Uber permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment”. The charge was made public in 2018 after a Wall Street Journal report. That triggered changes in ownership and management – see the post. It also preceded other executive changes as noted in the post. Not only did Uber agree to the monetary relief, it must do the other things noted in the post. The icing on the cake? The report released by Uber in early December 2019 identifying how many reports of sexual assault it received in 2017 and 2018 (see the post), including 464 for rape.

TAKEAWAY: No employer will indefinitely get away with a culture of flaunting the law – the law will catch up and it will be expensive (monetarily and in the court of public opinion). Use an employment lawyer and stamp out the illegal actions from the start.

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