First up, the post on Sunday 3/2/14 was about why not to wait for a “good time” to fire an employee. Employers should think about all the things that can happen between the decision to fire an employee and the delayed date when the employer actually acts on that decision. The post gives 4 examples of things that could happen and throw a screw in the works, thus making it harder for the employer to fire that person or, worse yet, maybe even giving the employee grounds for suit.
TAKEAWAY: While it may seem compassionate to time a discharge, it is a business decision that must be made and carried out in the best interests of the employer.
Monday 3/3/14 brought a post reminding employers that their position statement to the EEOC (or similar state agency) can and will be used against them both in that process and later court action. The post mentioned a case where the employer started out giving one explanation for the discharge, and then switched to another. The trial court found in favor of the employer, but the appeals court reversed on the retaliation claim. Why? Because the employer’s story had changed.
TAKEAWAY: Employer’s must get their story straight and stick to it, from the beginning.
Next, on Tuesday 3/4/14 the post was about consistency in the enforcement of policies. Inconsistent enforcement, or a complete failure to enforce, leaves the employer open to possible suit. Simple steps (such as in the post) can avoid this position.
TAKEAWAY: If a policy exists, it should be enforced, evenly. Period.
Wednesday 3/5/14 was a post about familiarity with the overlap between the ADA and FMLA. In the spotlighted case, the court ruled for the employer under the ADA because the employee did not timely return to work after an FMLA leave. Further, the employer’s documentation backed up its defenses.
TAKEAWAY: Employers should document leave start and end dates, along with other information relative to the leave, and not be afraid to discharge an employee who does not timely return from the leave.
Thursday 3/6/14’s post was about whether or not taxes can be discharged through bankruptcy. The answer is not simple, as it can depend on the type of tax, how old it is, whether or not a tax return was required to be filed and if it was filed (with or without extension), and the chapter under which the bankruptcy is filed. The article gives a brief overview of tax discharge under Chapter 7.
TAKEAWAY: If taxes are at issue, then a bankruptcy filing can help a business or individual (through payment over time or discharge).
The post on Friday 3/7/14 featured an article about why every small business needs to have a handbook. Why, you ask? Handbooks usually set forth background about the business along with the expectations of employees (and, often, benefits they get), while not forming a contract of employment. A handbook lets everyone know the rules of the game.
TAKEAWAY: A handbook is a guideline that allows the employer to treat all employees the same. Have one, use it, and enforce it.
Finally, yesterday 3/8/14 brought a post about whether an employer can ask a specific medical question without violating the ADA. The answer? It depends. On whether the employer already knows the person has a medical condition that affects the ability to perform the essential functions of the job. Or whether certain behavior by the employee puts the employer on notice that the person may have a medical condition that affects the ability to perform the essential functions of the job.
TAKEAWAY: There are certain circumstances under which an employer can ask specific medical questions that not only do not violate the ADA, but fulfill the employer’s obligation under the ADA. Know which is which.
Austin Law Firm LLC works with clients in the types of matters discussed in this blog and others occurring in the workplace or related to it. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us.