ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week – Oct. 27 – Nov. 2, 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 10/27/19 we saw that a federal court said supervisor fired for loss of $130K, not age or disability. Lorraine was a regional director at Temple University Health System. She complained more than once about her supervisor making racially insensitive comments (some of which are noted in the post). HR investigated. Lorraine then went out on FMLA leave, then the things noted in the post happened. Lorraine then ended up suing. The appellate court affirmed the decision of the federal trial court in favor of the employer on the grounds explained in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Being on a protected leave does not mean that the job is protected for or from all non-leave related matters – as long as the reason is legitimate and supported.

The post on Monday 10/28/19 noted that with new federal overtime rules coming, now is a good time to make sure jobs are properly classified. Yes, the new overtime pay rule will become effective January 1, 2020, so get ready now. It sets a new, higher minimum salary for exemption from overtime pay. Some of the changes include increasing the standard salary level to $684/week, increasing the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees to $107,432, and more as noted in the post. Some of the things NOT changed by the new rule are also noted in the post – so employers still must deal with them the best they can, including the duties test for exemption, an example of which is in the post. Failing to properly pay an employee can lead to a legal minefield for the employer, including the items noted in the post.  

TAKEAWAY: Now is the time to ensure all positions are properly classified under the new rule and make sure pay reflects any changes effective 1/1/20. Consult an employer lawyer with any questions.

The post on Tuesday 10/29/19 told us the EEOC says a pediatric group fired the worker whose religion prohibited her from attending a holiday party. The employee asked to be excused from the holiday party because it would violate her religious beliefs (which are enumerated a bit more in the post). She was immediately fired by the owner. The text message which terminated her is quoted in the post (and is pretty blunt). Ah, but how the company treated other employees differently is also in the post. The EEOC sued.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t treat employees worse because of their true religious beliefs. Also, don’t treat them differently than other employees because of those religious beliefs. Respect them and the law.

The post on Wednesday 10/30/19 was about a homeowner who won’t back down in a landscaping fight with the Association. The homeowner wanted to use black lava rock mulch. While putting it down, a neighbor told her she needed Association approval, so she stopped the landscaping and submitted a request. It was approved and she finished the expensive landscaping. The end, right? Nope. After 2 years, it is an issue again. See the post (and the VID).

TAKEAWAY: If there are issues regarding community associations (condo or homeowners’ associations) from either the Association or owner’s viewpoint, consult a community association lawyer (like us).

In the posts on Thursday 10/31/19, here and here, we wished you a Happy Halloween and reminded you that workplace rules and policies must still be enforced! Yes, holidays are fun, but policies and procedures don’t take breaks for holidays.

TAKEAWAY:  Evenly enforce your rules and policies or be prepared for them not to be upheld if and when they are before an administrative or judicial decision-maker.

The post on Friday 11/1/19 was a lesson in the making: After SCOTUS declines to take the Domino’s Pizza website accessibility case, more ADA suits could be coming. So why is a decision not to take a case both good and bad news? The suit was brought by a blind man who said the site was not accessible (on the basis noted in the post) and thus violated the ADA. The Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case means that the decision of the appellate court (from California) governs, at least as of now. What that decision held is in the post. And now it goes to trial, so we will either get a decision (with a probably appeal by either side) or a settlement. And in the meantime, other suits will be filed around the country.

TAKEAWAY: Since there is no clear federal standard or opinion regarding the applicability of the ADA to websites, the safest course is to ensure full accessibility to all.

Finally, in the post yesterday 11/2/19 we read that a woman allegedly called ‘little old lady’ by a manager gets an age discrimination trial. No, this is not a fairy tale. Here, the employee, Pamela, was 58 years old and supervised by Juliet, a 52-year-old. Pamela alleged that Juliet made at least 6 comments about her age, including those noted in the post, and teased her about other issues also noted in the post. On summary judgment, the appeals court reversed the ruling for the employer and sent the matter back for trial; its reasoning is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Train employees as to what they can and cannot say and do – and make sure they follow their training to keep you out of legal hot water. Keep an employment lawyer close at hand just in case.

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