Mother sues ex-employer who asked improper questions; what NOT to ask an applicant; dealing with condo/HOA record requests; restaurant denies service due to service dog; and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, Mar. 27 – Apr. 2, 2022.

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.

mother sues ex-employer after being asked if keeping baby was ‘good idea’

In the post on Sunday 3/27/2022 we learned that a mother sues ex-employer after being asked if keeping baby was a ‘good idea’.  Darci Topping started to work for a nursery on a contract for 37 hours a week in February 2020. A week later she told her boss that she was pregnant. Did she get cheer and congratulated? Unfortunately not. She was asked her about the baby’s father and some other things as noted in the post (and as was part of trial testimony).  Darci was earning minimum wage and, when COVID hit, had her hours reduced involuntarily. What else happened at the same time is noted in the post. She was the only person whose hours were cut.  Shortly after she was let go. The court found that she was terminated because of her pregnancy and will award damages after another hearing. And yes, this would probably play out the same in the US.

TAKEAWAY: Don’t take adverse action against an employee solely due to pregnancy – it will cost you a good employee and a lot of money.

4 tips to avoid discrimination in a job interview

The post on Monday 3/28/2022 taught us 4 tips to avoid discrimination in a job interview. First, and what should be common sense, it to avoid anything personal. That includes age, ethnicity, family situation, and the other things listed in the post. If the candidate brings up the topic, that is fine, but the interviewer should not. Next, target the questions. Make sure they are job-related. An example is in the post. The other 2 tips, along with examples, are also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employment discrimination can occur as part of the hiring process, so make sure you do it the legal way. Consult a lawyer if you are unsure of the legality of any questions you intend to ask applicants.

federal agencies guard against workplace retaliation – and work together

The post on Tuesday 3/29/2022 reminded us that federal agencies guard against workplace retaliation. You may be wondering why you need to care about this; it is because in November 2021, the EEOC, DOL and NLRB announced a joint initiative to raise awareness about workplace retaliation and promote workers’ rights. The EEOC enforced federal laws against job discrimination and harassment, including Title VII and more. What DOL is responsible for, and the NLRB’s general task, are in the post. What this means to you is that these agencies will be looking more closely at complaints that might lead to findings of retaliation; there might also be additional guidance from the agencies. The EEOC already started as noted in the post. Some ways you as an employer can try to ensure legal compliance are having, and uniformly enforcing, written policies against retaliation in your workplace, reporting, and more as noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Work with an employment lawyer to create and continually update your policies to ensure legal compliance.

record requests in condo/HOA: even if lengthy & difficult to follow, produce if sought for a proper purpose

The post on Wednesday 3/30/2022 was about record requests to condo or homeowners’ association: even if lengthy and difficult to follow, they need to be produced if sought for a proper purpose. In this instance the records sought included bills or invoices showing the cost of past litigation, records relating to orders for wrist bands for pool access, and 5 other categories of items listed in the post. The association ignored the request. The requesting owner sued. The trial court agreed that the requests were long and difficult to follow, but that they gave the association enough information about what was requested and why. The purpose as determined by the court is in the post. The association appealed and was again unsuccessful. The basis on which the ruling was appealed is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know what PA law says about owner record requests – work with your community association lawyer who should know both condo/HOA law as well as other applicable state law.

lawsuit settlement by law firm, engineers to pay surfside victims $55.55 million

The post on Thursday 3/31/2022, a follow-up to our post of 3/25/2022, was a lawsuit settlement by law firm, engineers to pay Surfside victims $55.55 million. Yes, three major defendants in the pending lawsuit arising from the collapse of Champlain Towers South have agreed to settle. The insurance proceeds come from their insurers. The division of settlement proceeds is noted in the post and has to do with the law firm that represented the association before the collapse, an engineering firm and a structural engineer. The connection of the last two is in the post. The settlement by the structural engineer may have even more far-reaching consequences as noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Tragedy is never good. But if lessons can be learned, and things possibly done differently or made better in the future as a result, then good can come from it.

manufacturer berry took adequate steps to stem racial harassment, court finds

The post on Friday 4/1/2022 taught that manufacturer Berry took adequate steps to stem racial harassment, Court finds. Ronald Burns started to work for Berry, a publicly traded company that is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of plastic packaging, tapes and other household and industrial products, in 2018 at a plant in Kentucky. Shortly after he started there, he was subjected to racially offensive and threatening notes and actions. At least one is noted in the post. Burns complained and HR investigated. What that entailed and actions taken by Berry are noted in the post. Burns left when he found another job; he then brought suit in 2020. The bases of his argument are in the post. Berry filed for summary judgment. The court found that the supervisor standard of review did not apply but that under the coworker standard, what Berry did was legally sufficient. On appeal the decision was affirmed. The appellate court’s reasoning is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: This case provides a good roadmap for employers and employees alike. Consult an employment lawyer for assistance given your facts and the applicable law.

man with service dog denied service at restaurant, employee facing discrimination charge

Finally, in the post yesterday 4/2/2022 we saw that man with a service dog was denied service at restaurant, employee facing discrimination charge. This actually happened in Naples, FL, but it could (and sadly might) happen anywhere. The man stopped to grab a pizza but an employee refused to serve him because he had his service dog with him. The dog was wearing a vest and helps with the man’s medical condition. When the police were called, they explained the ADA to the employee; how the employee responded is in the post. Ugh. And how did the owner of the restaurant react? See the post. At least he gets it.

TAKEAWAY: Know the law and what accommodations might or must be provided. Remember that the ADA extends beyond the employment context.

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