New legislation affecting older workers, the right reason to fire an employee, problem playsets, and more in our social media posts this week – Feb. 9 – 15, 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 2/9/20, we saw that the US House of Representatives passed an age discrimination bill – now it is up to the Senate. We noted that this is good for older employees – and should have no effect on employers if they are taking legal adverse actions. So how does this legislation help? It would counter the Supreme Court’s decision in Gross v FBL Financial Services that required a claimant to prove that age was a decisive factor in an adverse decision. The law changes that – see how in the post. The effect of unemployment on older workers is also noted (extensively) in the post.

            TAKEAWAY: If you take any legal adverse action against all employees, regardless of age, then you have no need to worry about whether this legislation becomes law.

The post on Monday 2/10/20 explained how an account exec was fired because of low sales, not age or gender bias. Here, William sued XPO Logistics for age and sex discrimination and retaliation after it fired him during a RIF and did not rehire him for another position for which he applied. The reason for the layoffs is noted in the post. The basis upon which the company decided who to let go is in the post and carried the day. The court’s analysis on appeal is also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Court’s will not second-guess legitimate business decisions, even if they are stupid or just plain bad; just make sure those decisions are legally supported.

The post on Tuesday 2/11/20 was about how community (common interest, aka condo and HOA) association rules can be cruel at times. Playsets for children seem innocuous, right? Not always. Here, 3-year-old Colton asked for the biggest playset that could be found. His parents obliged. Now neighbors are suing; the basis is in the post. Of course, other neighbors support Colton. Stay tuned for how this plays out.

TAKEAWAY:  Community associations have rules and restrictions to be followed by everyone – whether an exception can or must be made is a legal matter best made with assistance from a lawyer well-versed in community association law.

The post on Wednesday 2/12/20 told us that M&T Bank will pay $100K to settle a pregnancy-related disability discrimination lawsuit. Here, the EEOC alleged that a branch manager in Baltimore told a VP of her need for surgery for pregnancy-related disability. While on leave, M&T told her it would fill her position unless she did what is noted in the post. Further, M&T took the action(s) described in the post. And to make it worse, see what else the EEOC alleged as noted in the post! At the end, M&T discharged her. Suit was filed. The trial court ruled that the manager was disabled and entitled to ADA protection, such that she was entitled to the relief noted in the post. M&T then settled for the monetary payment and other relief noted in the post.

            TAKEAWAY: Pregnant employees must be treated like all other employees; it will be costly if you act any differently.

In the post on Thursday 2/13/20 we learned that restaurants are to pay $175K to settle a sexual harassment suit. (We noted that’s a big tip!) This matter takes us to California. Several Italian restaurants are owned and operated by the same company. The lawsuit filed by the EEOC alleges that a male line cook at one restaurant repeatedly had his private parts grabbed by the kitchen manager, cook and chef. He reported it to the owners; what they said, and the domino effect, is in the post. He finally quit. The suit also involves a female dishwasher at another of the company’s restaurants. She suffered occasional unwanted touching by the same kitchen manager and more noted in the post. She complained to another manager; the result is in the post. The settlement terms are also in the post and include both monetary and non-monetary relief for a period of 3 years.

TAKEAWAY: Train your employees how to act and how not to act and take disciplinary action if they don’t follow their training.

The post on Friday 2/14/20 was a wish for a Happy Valentine’s Day! It was also a warning to be careful how you and your employees celebrate – make sure there is nothing illegal said or done. See the post.

            TAKEAWAY: Holidays can be fun – if everything that is done in celebration is legal.

Finally, in the post yesterday 2/15/20, we read about what small business owners should know about wrongful termination lawsuits. (And noted that in addition to the listed resources, you should contact an employment lawyer!) Suits for discrimination and wrongful termination are common, especially as against small businesses. Often the alleged violations are not intentional, but illegal nonetheless. Wrongful termination can bring in many laws, and there might not be insurance coverage to help with any eventual liability. The various statutes that might apply are listed in the post. The types of claims that might come up are also in the post. So, what is a small business owner to do? First, review policies and procedures to make sure they are what you do – and that they are legally compliant. Other steps to take are listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Before changing policies or procedures, consult your employment lawyer to make sure they are legally compliant – and then enforce them evenly.

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