Large jury verdicts for race discrimination, the legality of POTUS’s firing of Vindman & Sondland, daycare discrimination, the allowance of satellite dishes/antennae, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week – Mar. 1 – 7, 2020.

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 3/1/20, we learned that in a race discrimination suit a jury awards nearly $800,000. A black electrician got the verdict after the jury decided his former employer, the city, discriminated against him and then retaliated after he complained. The breakdown of the award between the hostile environment and retaliation claims and punitive damages is in the post – and might surprise you. The suit alleged that Williams was not allowed to take a class that might have led to a promotion and what happened when he contradicted a white electrician. The post also mentions race-based comments by his supervisor. The city denied most of the allegations. Williams’ attorney did distinguish him from another black employee who did get promoted – see how in the post. Apparently, the jury did not believe the city.

            TAKEAWAY: Justice will be done – if you treat all employees equally and legally, you won’t be on the losing end of a jury verdict.

The post on Monday 3/2/20 was about the legality of POTUS’s firing of Vindman and Sondland. The discharges came a few days after Trump was acquitted by the Senate of his impeachment charges. And we know the discharges were retaliatory based on Trump’s own tweets (see the post). But what if this had happened in the (normal) employment context? The post mentions the laws that normally come into play and how or why retaliation usually occurs. The second “why” is analogous to what happened here. Causation is often a problem in the (normal) employment context, but not here. POTUS made it easy with his tweets and statements – and inside source confirmations. And, if this were the (normal) employment context, even though Trump was acquitted, the retaliation claim would survive. The post also looks at the legality of the firings in the circumstances as they are presented.

TAKEAWAY: Retaliation can stand alone – be careful of the action you take after an employee (or applicant) takes advantage of protected rights. Consult an employment lawyer if you have questions.

The post on Tuesday 3/3/20 told us that a daycare paid $27,500 to settle an ADA claim. The daycare was charmed with discriminating against a child who had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. What did it do? See the post. What the parents requested of the daycare is also in the post. The child has since been enrolled at a different daycare center. The settlement involved monetary damages and more as noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: This may not have been a typical employment situation, but the actions take are still illegal – don’t discriminate against anyone based on a protected characteristic.

The post on Wednesday 3/4/20 taught us that federal law protects satellite dishes, but not HAM radio antennas, in community (condo and homeowner) associations. So, the question is whether an Association can send a licensed HAM operator a violation notice relative to the required antenna. What if there is a rule such as in the post? The current federal rule, OTARD (spelled out for you in the post), protects an owner’s right to install a satellite dish or TV antenna. Of course, even for allowed dishes and antennae, an Association might have architectural rules/controls.

            TAKEAWAY: Know the law. And the restrictions of your Association’s Governing Documents. Get help from a community association lawyer.

In the post on Thursday 3/5/20 we read that Select Staffing will Pay $199,500 in EEOC settlement. The settlement also involves non-monetary relief as noted in the post. So, what underlies the settlement? The charges by the EEOC were that the employers failed to remedy or prevent sexual harassment of female employees placed in certain jobs. The women were subjected to sexual comments about their bodies and referred to as “prostitutes” and “dumb broads”. Others endured other conduct noted in the post. The women reported the behaviors, but nothing was done. Prior to this settlement, the City settled the suit that had been filed against it by the employees for $490,000.

TAKEAWAY: Have we not said it enough? Treat all employees evenly, fairly, and legally. Period.

The post on Friday 3/6/20 taught us that an alleged plan to remove “old timers” does not carry the day. With whom were they to be replaced? Less expensive “kids out of college”. Let’s take a step back. The state fired Keith perry for alleged improper food stamp use. He sued, alleging age discrimination and other claims. He mentioned the age comments as evidence. The trial court rued against him. Keith appealed. He lost again. The bases of the ruling are in the post, including an analysis of what is required to get past summary judgment in a stray remarks case.

            TAKEAWAY: When taking adverse action against an older employee, be careful. Carefully document the basis for the action in case it is ever needed in court.

Finally, in the post yesterday 3/7/20, we read about popstar to pizza to porn: complying with the ADA in the digital age. Yes, this puts Beyoncé, Domino’s Pizza, and PornHub in the same sentence. Why? They were all recently sued for allegedly not having websites that comply with the ADA. First, in January 2019, a blind woman sued Beyoncé’s company. A summary of her allegations (and there are many) is in the post. Next, a blind man sued Domino’s Pizza because he couldn’t order food on the website or mobile app. He won on the theory noted in the post. Domino’s appealed and lost again. The US Supreme Court did not take up the appeal, which left the judgment intact. Then most recently, on January 16, 2020, a hearing-impaired man sued PornHub because it did not provide subtitles for its “Premium” library. More specifics on his (unique) claim are in the post. And these suits join many others noted in the post. The suits have broadened the application of the ADA beyond literal doors to other things that are now part of everyday lives. But there are limits to the cases. The post talks about hos the Domino’s ruling is so limited. The post also notes the lack of official instruction on required website accessibility. There are guidelines, but no official rules (or law).

TAKEAWAY: I can’t say it better than in the post: “If you would rather spend your dollars on a better, accessible website – instead of the Lawyers’ … Retirement Fund and Spa – get educated and then change your website or build a better one from scratch.”

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