In the post on Sunday 12/20/20, we saw that the EEOC was hit with a lawsuit challenging its policy on diversity data. Who sued? The State of California. Why? It alleges the data is necessary so that it can identify civil rights enforcement priorities. Other states identified in the post have now joined the suit. They all seek data collected by the EEOC which is noted in the post. States used to be able to access and compare the EEOC’s diversity data across industries – and also employers within that state. That changed under the current Administration – how it was limited is noted in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Why the EEOC wouldn’t want help from the states in combating discrimination is beyond me, but that is the current way the policy works – and why the suit was filed. Stay tuned.
The post on Monday 12/21/20 taught us about the mileage reimbursement: what you need to know. If you intend to reimburse employees for mileage for use of their personal vehicles, or if you use your vehicle as part of work for a company that reimburses for mileage, the post contains some things you need to know. First, the reimbursement is intended to cover the employee’s cost of use of his or her vehicle, including fuel, maintenance and depreciation. Often it is set at a per-mile rate but can also be set on other bases – see the post. The reimbursement needs to be set at a minimum level as described in the post. The rate set annually by the IRS can be used but is not a mandate. At least one other suggested way to determine reimbursement is in the post. How about the tax consequences of mileage reimbursement for the employer and employee? See the post. Also, a suggestion on developing a reimbursement policy and communicating it to employees is in the post.
TAKEAWAY: If an employer is going to reimburse for mileage (voluntarily or because it must), the reimbursement should be set properly for the individual circumstances.
The post on Tuesday 12/22/20 was about the most common types of employment discrimination. Employer or employee, you need to read this. The list was compiled by a company using data from the Center for Public Integrity from 2010-2017 that was released in 2019. The list ranks the types by number of cases with relief (compensation for damages, back pay, reinstatement, training, and reasonable accommodation). During those years, 17.6% of closed cases resulted in relief, so this is essentially a small sample, but cases with relief are either r because they settled or there was a court judgment, so the list is still valuable. The list contains 50 items; #50 is drug addiction with 228 cases with relief, 157 of which provided monetary benefits. Coming in at #46 was sex-gender identity/transgender. I bet that will go way up the next list! The items on the list are broken down, such that there is not just one item for religion or race, but several depending on the religion or race at issue. Also, disability is not just one major category , but also broken down, such that, for example, kidney disease, MS, asthma, and others are their own categories. #26 was equal pay (female). “record of disability” came in at #13; this is another one that will probably be on the rise in the next list. Likewise, #8 brought us “regarded as” disabled. Age came in at #4 with 33,799 cases, 22661 of which had monetary benefits. And the #1 type of discrimination? See the post for that and the others in between.
TAKEAWAY: Discrimination remains prevalent in the workplace – knowing the types and possible remedies might help decrease the occurrences.
The post on Wednesday 12/23/20 showed us the case went to the dogs, then to court. Yes, it concerns the issues around service and emotional support animals, specifically in a planned community (one with a condominium or homeowner’s association). So, what happened here? In 2014 and 2015 condo residents claimed they were attacked by the Gottliebs’ dogs. The Gottliebs denied the allegation. Residents gathered a petition and went to board meetings to demand that the dogs be removed. The board acted; see the post. The Declaration allows pets, but has a limitation as noted in the post. It was that provision on which the board relied in taking action. No, that was not the end. Both the association and the Gottliebs sued (the association for an order requiring removal of the dogs and payment of fines and its attorneys’ fees). The court’s analysis of the provision of the Declaration and how the facts fit into that provision is in the post. The court also analyzed the provisions for fines and attorneys’ fee reimbursement – both are in the post and the latter is a good reminder to all of a key point in community association life.
TAKEAWAY: Know the Governing Documents in your association – and what can and cannot be done as part of enforcement. Engage a good community association lawyer.
In the post on Thursday 12/24/20 we learned that Trafficade is to pay over $80,000 to settle an EEOC national origin discrimination and retaliation suit. The employer here is based in Phoenix, but the applicable law is the same nationwide. The suit alleges that managers and employees repeatedly used racial slurs when referring to 2 Mexican American employees and also created an unsafe workplace for them. And there was more – see the post. The suit was filed when conciliation failed. The settlement includes monetary relief (compensatory damages and back pay) as well as other actions noted in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Again and again we say: train your employees as to what they can and cannot say and do. Wrongful behavior will come back to bite you and could be costly.
TAKEAWAY: We all need to take time out for the holidays, whichever holiday(s) we celebrate, but must now do it safely.
Finally, in the post yesterday 12/26/20 we saw that the Microsoft Xbox website allegedly violates the ADA (and noted that this should make you think about your own website). A potential class-cation suit was filed against Microsoft by a visually impaired and legally blind individual who requires screen-reading software to read website content and said that Microsoft does not have an accessible website for Xbox. How the website allegedly violates the ADA, and why that is unreasonable and just plain bad, is in the post. The suit also includes claims of intentional discrimination on the basis detailed in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Whether or not the ADA covers websites is an issue winding through various levels of courts and is one the US Supreme Court may have to decide. For now, make your website accessible and avoid potential suits.