Lawsuit settlements, equality in insurance coverage despite sexual orientation, condo and HOA reserve studies, court enforcement of face covering policies, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, Dec. 27, 2020 – Jan. 2, 2021.

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.

sex discrimination in employment – with no legal basis

In the post on Sunday 12/27/20, we saw that LTI Services is to pay $25,000 to settle an EEOC sex discrimination suit. LTI is a staffing agency. The EEOC alleged that it refused to hire women for a receiving association position for Tire Rack, instead hiring men who … see the post. When the parties were unable to resolve the matter, the EEOC filed suit. Now LTI has agreed to settle, paying real dollars and the other non-monetary relief noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t discriminate based on sex – besides the fact that it is just wrong, it is illegal and can end up costing you a lot of money (and perhaps bad publicity too).

insurance coverage equality for transgender employees

The post on Monday 12/28/20 told us that a federal judge says a lawsuit filed by a sheriff’s deputy over lack of transgender insurance coverage can move forward. The suit was filed in October 2019, challenging the exclusion of transgender-related health care from the county’s employee health plan. The plaintiff was a 23-year veteran of law enforcement and has worked at this position since 2006. In 2017 she came out as a transgender woman. She began hormone therapy to change her appearance to match her gender identity. As part of her transition, she also required certain treatment as noted in the post. She was denied coverage because the plan explicitly excluded transgender care. The judge denied the county employer’s motion to dismiss (the basis is in the post) and allowed the suit to proceed.

TAKEAWAY: The Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock made clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal – now cases play out to see if that was indeed the basis for various decisions.

reserve studies for condo and hoa communities – the why’s and wherefores

The post on Tuesday 12/29/20 was about reserve studies: preparing your community association for the future. You know what a reserve study is, right? And that its purpose is to aid the association in preparing for large future repairs and creating a timeline to allocate funds for the repairs, right? For it to work, you(r association) first must know about capital reserves. These are an account separate from the operations account to fund large future repairs. Some examples are noted in the post. And why is it a separate account? Again, see the post. Knowing how and to what extend to fund the reserve account is where the reserve study comes into the picture. There are a few components as detailed in the post. The expert preparing the reserve study takes several steps as part of the process; they also are noted in the post. And once the association has the reserve study in hand, is it done? Not quite. The reserve study should be updated periodically (how often is discussed int eh post) and project out the number of years noted in the post. 

TAKEAWAY: An Association should budget for the cost of the initial reserve study and periodic updates so that it can protect owners’ investments. Contact a community association lawyer if you or your Board needs assistance.

court enforcement of face covering policy in pa

The post on Wednesday 12/30/20 told us that a federal court upheld enforcement of Giant’s face covering policy over customer claims of disability discrimination. The decision, which came out of a PA court, is a good guideline for all business owners and employers. It has been difficult for retailers to walk the line of requiring masks to be worn by customers and accommodating those claiming they cannot due to a disability. Here, Josiah Kostek is one of 69 people who sued Giant Eagle, alleging violation of Title III of the ADA (explained in the post). He requested that the court issue a preliminary injunction preventing Giant from requiring him to wear a mask to enter the stores. The stores offer alternatives to customers who cannot (or will not) wear masks – they are detailed in the post Kostek refused the alternatives and instead went to a store without a mask. The first time, he was cited and the outcome is in the post. He then did it again 11 days later – how the judge characterized that incident is in the post. Based on the judge’s analysis (in the post), Kostek actually did himself in through social media (as noted in the post). After the judge denied the preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs’ attorney said they would proceed with the case and begin discovery.

TAKEAWAY: Having alternatives to wearing a mask permits all customers to avail themselves of the goods or services offered – a good takeaway for any business. Consult an employment layer for assistance and to ensure your policy is legal.

happy new year 2021!

In the posts on Thursday 12/31/20, here, here, and here, we again took time out to wish you a Happy New Year and good wishes.

TAKEAWAY: Let’s hope 2021 is safer and healthier than was 2020.

(re)employment and the ada during the pandemic

The post on Friday 1/1/21 talked about (Re)employment and the ADA during the COVID-19 pandemic: things to know as vaccines roll out. Employees retain their rights under the ADA, but there is more leeway for employers given the safety threat of COVID. For example, employers can screen applicants for COVID after a conditional job offer. How that can play out if the applicant has no symptoms (and is not positive) but is at higher risk is noted in the post. And what about those returning to the workplace? Employers may conduct medical inquiries, exams and screenings – and can refuse to permit return by those who have symptoms or test positive. And how can employers take those steps? See the post. Employers can also institute protocols, but if they present a problem for an employee due to a disability, an accommodation can be requested. What that might be depends on the disability – examples are discussed in the post. The normal ADA interactive process still applies.  

TAKEAWAY: Applicants, employees, and employers should know what is required under the ADA, especially as it overlaps COVID protocols and the workplace. Consult an employment lawyer for assistance.

eeoc rules on return-to-work testing and disability accommodation during covid-19

Finally, in the post yesterday 1/2/21, we suggested you keep the EEOC rules in mind to avoid a tight spot during the pandemic. Yes, this continued the return-to-work theme because you still need to think about these things. As just one example, EEOC Guidance exists in the area of employers’ requiring return-to-work testing for COVID. How employers should proceed, however, is detailed in the Guidance (and noted in the post). Another part goes into what might constitute an undue hardship for a requested accommodation posing significant expense during the pandemic. That too is discussed in the post (including the differences pre- and during the pandemic).  

TAKEAWAY: It is worth one or more discussions with an employment lawyer to  know your rights and obligations in and to the workplace during COVID.

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