NBC Universal CEO fired for sexual harassment; the most common condo & HOA violations; FMLA serious health condition defined; and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, June 4-10, 2023.

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.

The post on Sunday 6/4/2023 told us NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell fired after CNBC anchor alleges sexual harassment. Shell was ousted after NBC corroborated the allegations (pursuant to the company’s SEC filing). Shell was a long-time employee who issued a statement (in the post) at or just after termination. The complainant was identified as Hadley Gamble, an anchor and international correspondent. Her attorney said she complained of sexual harassment and sex discrimination. And what did he say about her identity being made public? See the post. The leadership structure was at least temporarily collapsed, and the President and CEO issued a public letter (with some of the contents noted in the post). This wasn’t the first sexual misconduct issue NBC Universal has faced in recent years: there were others in 2017 and 2020 as discussed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Nobody is (or should be) above the law. When a complaint is filed, make sure it is thoroughly investigated and appropriate action then taken.

The post on Monday 6/5/2023 explained that a trucking company pays $1.25M to settle allegations it refused to hire women. Here, R&L Carriers, based in Ohio but operating nationally, will pay this money to a class of female job applicants. The EEOC alleged that the discrimination occurred for at least 7 years, 2010 – 2017. The EEOC had filed suit in August 2017, alleging the Title VII violation noted in the post. What was used to support that allegation is also in the post. Now, 5-1/2 years later, the parties entered into a consent decree. The monies will be paid into a fund to compensate those identified by the EEOC as eligible (the definition for which is in the post). And of course there is also a non-monetary component to the settlement: R&L must post conspicuously notice of its nondiscrimination policy in the facility noted in the post, send a notice of nondiscrimination in hiring policy to all recruiters, employment agencies, job services and others involve in its hiring process, and more as detailed in the post. This was not the largest settlement in recent years related to sex discrimina-tion; a 2022 settlement for $5M is referenced in the post as well as a pending suit.  

TAKEAWAY: Don’t treat job applicants or employees differently based on sex. Just don’t. It will be costly in so many ways.

The post on Tuesday 6/6/2023 told us that a Pennsylvania subcontractor will pay $384K in back wages, penalties for violating H-2B rules. This is timely as it is a swimming pool subcontractor that is involved. GSA Pool Finishes will pay over $317,00 in back wages to 3 US workers and 56 Mexican workers employed under the H-2B visa program pursuant to a consent decree with DOL. The workers were hired as cement masons; the incorrect things GSI did (or in some cases, did not do) are noted in the post. GSI contested the back pay calculations; an ALJ found inconsistencies in the evidence and has scheduled a hearing but the parties agreed to certain facts. That led to entry of the consent order. What GSI must pay on top of the back wages, and on what the amount is based, is in the post. This became an issue because those employed under the H-2B program have certain terms and conditions for wage payment (some of which are described in the post).

TAKEAWAY: Know how to correctly pay your workers; talk to an employment lawyer to make sure.

The post on Wednesday 6/7/2023 taught us the 4 (most) common condo & homeowner association violations. Two of the goals behind restrictions in a community association are to keep residents safe and the community attractive. A national survey of more than 1000 owners resulted in these 4 most common violations. First is trash pickup. Maybe cans must be kept out of sight. Or perhaps there are limits on when the cans can be at the curb or other pickup location. Next is fencing. There might be restrictions on the height, set-back, materials, and more. The top 2 most common violations (which will not surprise you) are in the post and described a bit.

        TAKEAWAY: Knowing the restrictions in your community, BEFORE YOU BUY, is key. So is the assistance of a community association lawyer.

In the post on Thursday 6/8/2023 we reviewed condo life: a sample process for approval of heat pumps. This was in Canada, but the analogy to a US condo or homeowners’ association is obvious. Do you know how this process would work in your association? Here we read about a 19-story condo with over 233 units. And there are four other condos in the same block that are of similar or greater size. (Can you imagine how many people are in that small area?!?!). Owners in the subject condo must get approval to many things (like those noted in the post). There is an elected council (equivalent to a Board here in the US) that manages operations. The election process is described in the post as well as what the council/board does, including holding meetings. There might also be a management agent to assist the council/Board with its duties. Some things the management agent does are noted in the post. What the council/Board was faced with here was deciding whether to put heat pumps on the roof and plumbing in all units or just letting owners buy standard heat pumps from a pre-selected vendor. The pros and cons of each were discussed and a decision made (see the post). Then the council/Board discussed contractor and technology – again see the post. Then other issues arose that needed to be discussed and decisions made (see the post). And finally timing was an issue – because of the substance and governing document (or statutory) requirements as noted in the post.   

TAKEAWAY: Does the Board of your association follow the required procedure for various maintenance obligations? Does it engage a community association lawyer to help guide its legal decisions?

The post on Friday 6/9/2023 was about FMLA leave: what counts as a serious health condition (and more basic FMLA Q&A). Ok, you should know that (among other things) the FMLA allows eligible employees to take job-protected leave to care for themselves or an immediate family member related to a serious health condition. So how does an employer differentiate between a standard illness and a serious health condition under the FMLA guidelines? First, the employer should verify that the FMLA applies. Is the employer a covered employer (i.e., does one of the criteria listed in the post apply)? If so, then determine if the employee has worked the requisite length of time and number of hours (again as detailed in the post). If so, then (and only then) should the employer look at whether a serious health condition is at issue.  

Guidelines on what constitutes a serious health condition are not necessarily based on the diagnosis, but rather the impact of the illness on the employee or their family member and the treatment required. The FMLA defines a “serious health condition” as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves one of the criteria listed in the post (including listed ongoing conditions). Employers will have the treating physician complete an FMLA leave request form relative to the asserted serious health condition (see the post for what that means). The one thing employers cannot require be provided to them? See the post – which also explains why the employer really doesn’t want to know that one thing.

The FMLA does not cover minor ailments like the flu, common cold, or an upset stomach. That would be something dealt with by sick days. But keep in mind that the FMLA applies equally to both mental and physical conditions as long as the criteria are met. And what about cosmetic procedures and migraines? See the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know the laws that apply to your workforce and also what your rights and obligations are under those laws. Have an employment lawyer on speed dial.

Finally, in the post yesterday 6/10/2023, we read that Zora Bar Rooftop owner accused of employment discrimination. There is a VID. And after watching surely you could spot the problem, right? A Black bartender alleges that the owner (Alan) wanted servers who fit a specific mold (noted in the VID) which she did not. And there’s more, involving the liquor itself (see the VID). The suit is pending.

TAKEAWAY: Treat all employees the same and don’t discriminate in hiring employees. It will come back to bite, hard.

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