Retaliation even with no underlying discrimination, EEOC Guidance regarding COVID-19 and the ADA, smoking and restrictions in community associations, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week – June 28 – July 4, 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 6/28/20, we learned than an ex-employee’s retaliation charge against JPMorgan was reinstated. So, what happened? Erik files suit against the company and 2 supervisors under Title VII, SCRA and state law. Erik is from Ecuador. He claimed that he was given les work than non-Ecuadorian bankers and other different types of treatment as noted in the post. The linchpin was that he says he was terminated after complaining  to HR and the EEOC. Ugh. The trial court dismissed all of his charges but the appellate panel reinstated the retaliation charge. The court’s reasoning is in the post (and gives good tips for employers).

TAKEAWAY: Remember: success on the underlying charge of discrimination is not required for a valid retaliation claim.

The post on Monday 6/29/20 reviewed new Guidance regarding COVID-19 and the ADA. The Guidance is from the EEOC, so pay attention! First, the ADA should do 3 things in the midst of a pandemic: regulate the questions an employer can ask applicants and employees, prohibit employers from barring employees with disabilities from the workplace, and require employers to provide reasonable accommodation for those with disabilities (as each is explained in more detail in the post). Importantly, coronavirus has been upgraded to a “direct threat”. How and why that matters is laid out in the post, including but not limited to employer having the right to send employees home if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. Much more detail is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Employers, applicants and employees all need to know their rights in this age of COVID – consult an employment lawyer to be sure.

The post on Tuesday 6/30/20 noted that where there’s smoke, there’s a conversation about association rules. All types of smoke can present issues in community associations, whether coming through the ductwork in a high-rise or wafting across the grass from yard to yard. So, what can an association do? Enact and enforce rules. Know what the rules are, when they are broken, and what the repercussion is. Examples are in the post. Also in the post are some idea as to how to handle smoking that might bother others in the community.

TAKEAWAY: All owners need to know the restrictions and rules by which they must live; enforcement can get ugly and costly.

The post on Wednesday 7/1/20 told us that Gabrielle Union says NBC’s Chairman threatened her after she reported racism. The report was about behavior on the set of “America’s Got Talent”. She says that NBC did not back her complaints, but rather retaliated against her (but what NBC did is in the post). She also says that the chairman threatened her when she spoke up about a toxic environment; what else he supposedly said he would do is in the post. NBC’s response to the allegations is also in the post.

            TAKEAWAY: Illegal conduct can – and does – happen everywhere; make sure to investigate any claims in your workplace and take appropriate action.

The post on Thursday 7/2/20 taught that a FedEx manager’s questions about retirement didn’t prove age discrimination. Roddie Melvin worked for FedEx for 33 years. Melvin said that when he met with a supervisor, he was asked his age, when he was going to retire, and more (noted in the post). That same supervisor fired Melvin sic months later (after intervening actions noted in the post). Melvin sued, alleging age discrimination. The trial court ruled in favor of FedEx and that was affirmed by the appellate court for the reason noted in the post (which is part of the burden-shifting scheme every plaintiff must follow and carry).

TAKEAWAY: Age-related comments can be deadly for employers, but documentation of performance-related reasons for adverse actions can save the day. Contact your employment lawyer to see where you fall.

The post on Friday 7/3/20 was about answers to wage and hour questions you’re afraid to ask as workers return. Yes, the minefield of return-to-work during COVID-19 continues to expand, so know some of the answers. First, what should employers consider when reducing or reinstating wages? State law, the FLSA, PPP/CARES, and maybe more as noted in the post. Next, can an employer change or eliminate PTO policies? The answer is “maybe”.  There are several options as noted in the post; all should be discussed with an employment lawyer to ensue legal validity. Finally, is COVID-19 temperature-taking compensable time? You’re probably thinking “it takes maybe 30 seconds, what is the big deal?), but what if the person has to wait in line to have a temperature taken? Current caselaw goes both ways (as noted in the post), so again talk to your employment lawyer.

TAKEAWAY: Activities related to work, but not doing the required work, may or may not be compensable, but it is a factual inquiry best answered by your employment lawyer.

Finally, in the posts yesterday 7/4/20, here, here, and here, we wished you a Happy Independence Day and suggested you celebrate wisely and legally.

TAKEAWAY: Even on holidays, workplace laws apply, so keep them in mind at all times.

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