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 12/6/20, we saw that a fired Amazon worker filed a discrimination lawsuit over pandemic conditions. This past March and April, Amazon fired Christian Smalls and at least 3 other workers who were critical of its pandemic response. The terminations were based on various alleged workplace violations. And specifically, as to the basis for terminating Smalls, see the post. The NY Attorney General then questioned Amazon’s seeming attempt to silence its critics. Smalls has now filed a proposed class action suit, claiming Amazon fired him for discriminatory reasons and that it put Black and Hispanic workers at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. What was (not) done relative to the referenced protected classes as contrary to the mainly Caucasian managers? See the post. And the alleged discrimination? That is based on a leaked memo from Amazon’s general counsel to its Chief Executive, Jeff Bezos; the post mentions the contents of the memo. The suit remains pending.
TAKEAWAY: Ensure that adverse action against an employee, whether or not in a protected class, has a legally supported basis.
The post on Monday 12/7/20 showed us that a termination letter advised the employee to “focus on her health” says an ADA suit. The employee worked as a title clerk for a car dealership. After she missed several days of work due to a sudden illness, she told her boss she’d been hospitalized and was being tested for cancer. She also said she would return to work in a few days. And how did the employer reward that honesty? A letter terminating her for the reason noted in the post. The EEOC filed suit alleging a violation of the ADA, in that the employer regarded her as disabled. How a “regarded as” claim works under the law is discussed in the post. The relief requested in the suit is also mentioned in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Once made aware of an employee’s (potential) disability, an employer has an obligation to begin the interactive accommodation process, not to fire the employee. Consult an employment lawyer to make sure you act appropriately.
The post on Tuesday 12/8/20 told us that another former Jim Burke Automotive employee alleges race discrimination. Apparently we had a mini theme going on of discrimination in the auto industry. We say “another” as 3 current and 1 former employee of the same employer filed suit not long ago with similar claims. This new suit by a Black man also claims discrimination on the basis of race, and specifically that an executive repeatedly used racial slurs without discipline. So, what did the executive (allegedly) do? Used the “N-word” in one or more meetings in front of white and black employees, made the comment noted in the post (you won’t believe this one!), and suspended the employee after he complained. The employee resigned on October 12th. There is one more allegation in the complaint; it is about the employer’s anti-discrimination training. See the post.
TAKEAWAY: Train employees on what they can and cannot say or do to employees – the employer will be liable if there is no or inadequate training or improper or illegal actions go unchecked.
The post on Wednesday 12/9/20 was about a homeowner who filed suit against an Association over an order to remove a BLM flag. Antoine Mickel lived in a neighborhood for 20 years. He and his neighbors expressed various views through flags on their homes. The content of the flags varied as noted in the post, including some that are seasonal. Antoine’s HOA told him to remove his BLM flag. Did he? No, he filed suit against the Association, its management agent, the president, and the property manager. A national group that supports fair housing laws hired an attorney to represent Antoine. The legal basis for the suit is noted in the post. And the HOA’s response to a news source? See the post.
TAKEAWAY: Remember that rules must comply with state and federal law. Consult a community association lawyer for assistance.
In the post on Thursday 12/10/20 we learned about trusts and estates in reality TV. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City to be exact. Let’s set the stage. The housewives are Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Meredith Marks, Whitney Rose, and Jen Shah. Mary is married to Bishop Robert Cosby Sr., who was also the second husband of Mary’s deceased grandmother, Dr. Rosemary Redmon, the founder of the Faith Temple Pentecostal Church. Grandma Rosemary died at the early age of 65; leaving her husband with the many assets noted in the post. At age 24, Mary wed her step-grandfather; they have been married for 20 years now and have a child. How the marriage was intertwined with Grandma Rosemary’s estate is in the post. More? Grandma Rosemary’s daughter, Rosalind, who is also a pastor, accused Bishop Cosby, her stepfather and Mary’s husband/step-grandfather) of forging documents related to Grandma Rosemary’s property. There were lawsuits (of course); at least one went to judgment as noted in the post. All of that divided the church, with some supporting Rosalind and the others Bishop Cosby. Still more? As part of the lawsuits, Rosalind asked that Grandma Rosemary’s body be exhumed. What they found is noted in the post. But this is not the only Real Housewives show with trust & estate issues; some of the others are described in the post. All real-life drama but playing out on tv for the rest of us.
TAKEAWAY: Make sure your estate plan is properly and legally documented; consult an estate planning attorney. Don’t leave your estate to be fodder for a television audience.
The post on Friday 12/11/20 told us the EEOC sued employers for rejecting hearing-impaired job applicants. Yes, remember that protection extends to both employees and applicants. Here, in the first case a qualified, hard-of-hearing person applied for a sandwich-maker position at a Subway. The reasons she was rejected is noted in the post. The second case centered on a case against Dollar Tree for failing to accommodate or hire a deaf applicant for an entry-level warehouse position. What the employer, through a supervisor, did wrong is detailed in the post (and is just despicable). These employers may be on their way to a hefty price tag, just like FedEx in its settlement of a disability discrimination suit (also detailed in the post).
TAKEAWAY: Treat all employees and applicants the same; don’t assume anyone, hearing or hearing-impaired, will need an accommodation or be unable to do the job.
Finally, in the post yesterday 12/12/20 we saw that DXC settled equal pay discrimination claims. DXC is a technology company formed in 2017 from a spin-merge of Hewlett-Packard Enterprises’ services business with Computer Sciences Corp. OFCCP alleged that the HP portion paid female employees less than comparable males in the positions mentioned in the post. OFCCP accused DXC of violating an executive order prohibiting government contractors from employment discrimination. If the settlement, DXC agreed to pay a hefty sum (see the post for the actual amount) and take other non-monetary measures (also in the post). DXC’s statement? See the post.
TAKEAWAY: Whether inherited or organic, an employer may face liability for unequal pay for substantially similar work; don’t join that party.