Racial slurs, how to define “self-employment” and holiday wishes – this and more in the blog for Dec. 22-28, 2019.

 ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week –

Dec. 22 – 28, 2019

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 12/22/19 we learned that a state agency will file a discrimination complaint against Dollar General (and we asked: When will people learn?!?) So, what happened here? Trona used to work at a Dollar Tree store; she quit 11/11 along with a former co-worker, Will. Trona alleged that a manager used racial slurs against her. Will said he left to support Trona. The content of the slurs is noted in the post, as well as the period of time over which they occurred. The post also mentions how many people were involved in the actions against Trona (hint: more than 1). Why Will also quit is in the post – and reminds one of chivalry along with a respect for the law.

            TAKEAWAY: Yes employers, you must train your managers (and all employees) as to what they can and cannot say to others; if things go awry, investigate and discipline as appropriate. Involve employment counsel if needed.

The post on Monday 12/23/19 told us that the PA Supreme Court Justices question the definition of self-employment under the unemployment compensation law. Seems self-evident, right? Apparently not so as the law does not define the term. Argument on the case before the Court led to several interchanges between the Justices and the attorneys – see the post. The background includes a beauty salon and 5 people who worked there in various capacities. The PA DOL classified them as employees but classified 5 others who worked there in similar jobs as independent contractors. On appeal, the Commonwealth Court reversed. How and why it ruled is in the post. Of course, the parties’ attorneys made contrasting arguments to the Justices. Some questions asked by the Justices are noted in the post (along with counsel’s responses).

TAKEAWAY: What we all thought we knew about self-employment in the UC context may be reworked or confirmed by the PA Supreme court – or thrown back to the state legislature. Stay tuned.

The post on Tuesday 12/24/19 asked: What do I need to know about life in a homeowners’ (HOA) or condo association? (We noted that PA law is similar to that discussed in the post, but suggested you contact us with any questions.) There are multiple millions of people whose homes are within planned communities, and probably many of them who didn’t know what they should have before they bought (or built) their homes. In this post, we saw that owners moved the trash and recycling bins from their garage to the gated yard for the (logical) reasons noted in the post. Then they got a note from the landlord as a result of HOA complaints. As in the post (which talks about TX), there is no state agency governing planned communities in PA, but there are applicable laws covering some things. And as in the post, when you purchase a home within a planned community, you are bound by its covenants, restrictions, and rules. Tenants are bound by the same documents and their owner-landlords must ensure they comply. Some examples of things the Association might due in cases of non-compliance are in the post. Also, in the post is a warning not to just withhold paying dues or assessments, as that might result in even heftier amounts due or other actions by the Association.

TAKEAWAY: Life in a planned community can by idyllic, but it can also be the opposite – consult a community association lawyer BEFORE you buy or if you run into trouble after purchase.

The posts on Wednesday 12/25/19, here, here and here, were a simple message: Happy Holidays! Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday, the posts sent wishes for a wonderful, warm and festive holiday for you, your family and your friends.

            TAKEAWAY: We all need to take time out to disconnect and reconnect.

In the post on Thursday 12/26/19 we learned about a former Rockwell employee who sued, saying co-worker groped her and company didn’t act. Marieda says a male co-worker sexually assaulted her during a Conference; what happened is in the post. She told the company about it in writing the next day. How that progressed, and the effect on Marieda, is also in the post. After the co-worker gave a different account of the incident, the employer’s investigator found out about an earlier complaint against the same co-worker – but was then promoted. See more details in the post. Here, nothing was done, Marieda developed PTSD, and alleges that she was constructively discharged.

TAKEAWAY: Make sure that all complaints are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken – don’t turn a blind eye, as it may come back to bite, hard. Contact an employment lawyer for assistance.

The post on Friday 12/27/19 told us that Compass Group USA settled an EEOC lawsuit charging discrimination in promotion. We noted this was literal hot water for the employer! So, what led to the $10,000 settlement. Patricia applied but was not selected to fill a sous chef vacancy. The EEOC says she was qualified but not chosen for the reasons noted in the post. And, to make things worse, the EEOC further alleged that when she complained about not being selected, the company retaliated against her as noted in the post. When the matter did not settle, the EEOC filed suit. The settlement is for the monetary amount mentioned plus other thigs noted in the post.

            TAKEAWAY:  Employers should make sure that any adverse action is legally supportable – having to deal with a lawsuit after the fact will end up being much more expensive!

Finally, in the post yesterday 12/28/19 we read that an egg producer settled for $93,000 in retaliation suit against a disabled employee. The EEOC alleged that the company, Herbruck Poultry Ranch, subjected a worker to a hostile work environment because of her disability – and then retaliated against her for complaining about it. The allegations in the suit are noted in the post and include request mocking by her supervisor and following her into a bathroom – ick! Conciliation failed, so the EEOC filed suit on her behalf. The settlement includes the monetary relief and other items noted in the post.  

TAKEAWAY: Yep, we said it as recently as the post on 12/27/19: don’t take adverse action, or fail to take action, unless same is legally supportable. And confirm your position by consulting an employment lawyer.

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