The ADA and mask policies, the Bostock sexual orientation lawsuit, EEOC suits for discrimination and harassment, fighting to display the American flag, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, October 25-31, 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.

The ada relative to mask policies

In the post on Sunday 10/25/20, we asked that you remain mindful of the ADA relative to mask policies. While many retailers, professional offices, and others have instituted mandatory face mask policies pursuant to federal and state guidelines, reasonable accommodations for those who cannot wear a mask due to a disability must be considered. The CDC recommends that all individuals wear masks in public settings, but it is a balancing test. CDC and governmental mask mandates may have exceptions such as those noted in the post. Despite COVID and mask requirements, the ADA still requires businesses that are open to the public to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to that business’s goods and services. So what does that mean for your business? You may need to make reasonable modifications to certain policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that equal access. That includes not having a blanket “no mask, no service” policy. Should you ask for medical documentation if someone declines to wear a mask? See the post. Training employees to approach customers and clients not wearing masks to advise them of the mask policy. Then take the steps noted in the post. In the retail sector, the ADA does not give the customer the right to enter the store without a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. What the ADA does do is in the post. Other businesses may not have to provide a reasonable modification if that would change the nature of the service or pose an undue financial or administrative burden. And those mask exemption cards? See the post.

TAKEAWAY: Even in this pandemic, other laws apply; the ADA still requires reasonable accommodation to people with disabilities.

Bostock sexual orientation suit continues

The post on Monday 10/26/20 told us that Mr. Bostock’s sexual orientation lawsuit proceeds. Recall that Bostock won at the US Supreme Court earlier this year. So what does that mean? That the federal appellate court revived his suit alleging that the county employer terminated his employment because he was gay. The court had found that sexual orientation discrimination was not prohibited by Title VII, but SCOTUS decided it indeed is. So now what happens is noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY:  This is but one case that has had a circuitious journey; stay tuned to see if Bostock can prove his case.

racist comments, racial slurs, and more

The post on Tuesday 10/27/20 told us that the EEOC sued contractor CCC Group for racial harassment. The facts in this case are definitely egregious! The EEOC alleged that the contractor violated federal law by fostering a work environment rife with racist comments and discriminatory work conditions. This goes back to 2016 when the Texas company operated a work site in NY. Allegedly white supervisors and employees regularly made unwelcome racist comments and did more as noted in the post. Some of the slurs even occurred on a company radio channel for all to hear. More? The EEOC alleges that African American employees were given more physically taxing and dangerous work than Caucasian counterparts with examples listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: You must train your employees as to behaviors that are illegal and will not be tolerated – have your employment lawyer do the training to ensure that it is taken seriously.

The post on Wednesday 10/28/20 was about an Army veteran in a fight with an HOA over displaying the American flag. Army veteran Rich Killingsworth is in year two of a dispute with his homeowner’s association. He said Parkside is charging him $50 per day and threatening to put a lien on his home all over an American flag on a flagpole in his backyard. State law protects the flying of the flag. But the HOA says it’s not about the flag. What is says is the issue is in the post. And why does Killingworth think the HOA is fighting him? See the post. The letter that the HOA sent out is also in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Know what can and cannot be restricted in a planned community – and how. Consult a knowledgeable community association lawyer.

In the post on Thursday 10/29/20 we learned about EEOC updating its ADA compliance in light of COVID-19. These are things for every employer and employee to know. The Guidelines are for employers looking to bring people back to work. Whether through a hybrid model or reinstating the regular work schedule, there are many things for emloyers to consider. One of the biggest is the ADA due to compliance with CDC recommendations. As noted, the ADA requires that health information be kept private, including whether or not an employee has COVID-19. But this does prohibit employers from asking necessary questions about the employees’ health in keeping with CDC guidelines to screen employees before entering the workplace. What to ask, how to ask it, and how to store the information received is all discussed in the post. Importantly, if it is determined that an employee has or may have come into contact with the virus, employers are within their rights to require that the person stay home. But as for work, reasonable accommodation is not as simple as just letting people work remotely. It might depend on the technology available and the type of work a person does. Things to consider for continuing remote work are listed in the post. And remember, just because remote work was allowed (or required) at one point does not mean it must be allowed indefinitely. And don’t forget about accommodating customers and clients – see the post.

TAKEAWAY:  Now you get it: even during the pandemic, other laws such as the ADA still apply. Know the law and get legal assistance when needed.

The post on Friday 10/30/20 told us to beware of ‘benevolent reasons’ to treat older workers differenlty amid COVID19.  Yes, altruism can put you at risk for legal liability. CDC has determined that the older you are, the greater is the COVID-19 risk. But can an employer act on that? Maybe. See the post for the things to consider and how to act (or not act).

TAKEAWAY:  Are you seeing a theme? While working through COVID, you must still keep in mind other laws including that prohibiting age discrimination.

Finally, in the post yesterday 10/31/20 we learned about what employers should know about hiring seasonal workers. With the holidays coming, this can be important. The first thing to consider is how the employer-employee relationship changes. Each party brings possibly different expectations as noted in the post. There are some employer responsibilities that remain the same, including providing a safe workplace (under OSHA and more), classifying workers appropriately and correctly, and the other items listed in the post.  

TAKEAWAY: Know your legal obligations before hiring seasonal workers; it will be a long season if you get into legal hot water.

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