What to do about age discrimination; Dobbs’ impact on college athletes; costly denial of religious exemption to COVID vax; HOA horror stories; office romances, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, Aug. 14-20, 2022.

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.

why employees should make timely complaints to hr about age discrimination and how companies can reduce such behavior

In the post on Sunday 8/14/2022 we learned why employees should make timely complaints about age discrimi-nation to HR and how companies can reduce such behavior. Workers regularly taunt a colleague about age, calling the person names, laughing at how they walk and ignoring their input. The person doesn’t want to complain because it might make things worse. But the person also is anxious about going to work and is impacted mentally, emotionally and physically by the behavior. So what should that person do? Not doing anything is one option, but not a good one. First, the behavior might continue. There are also other potential impacts, some harmful to the victimized employee, as noted in the post. So what should the person do vis-à-vis complaining to HR? Send an email or use whatever other means is required by company policy. And what should be done with the email? See the post. If the company does nothing, whether after investigation or without an investigation, there are other options – see the post. To avoid this, companies should train employees on the many ways age bias can show up in the workplace and more as listed in the post.

TAKEAWAY: whether intended or not, age discrimination is illegal and can be costly for any employer – so don’t go there in the first place.

questions remain for college athletes after DOBBS decision on abortion

The post on Monday 8/15/2022 noted that questions remain for college athletes after Dobbs decision on abortion – just some of the ripples from Dobbs. This is important for students, their parents, and colleges/universities as the 2022 fall semester is about to begin. The NCAA has said nothing about how Dobbs will impact athletes as member schools, but it does have a 107-page model policy with guidelines on school care for pregnant athletes. One thing the model policy does is discourage schools from requiring athletes to disclose if they are pregnant. It also outlines federal protections as noted in the post. The model policy also says that pregnant athletes should be entitled to ‘a full range of choices, including abortion or having the child, and withdrawing from or staying on the team.’ It also has a “worst case scenarios” section that is discussed in the post. The model policy also discusses who covers medical costs associated with pregnancy as noted in the post. The tricky question will be whether school employees in states with abortion bans will help with out-of-state travel for pregnant students.

TAKEAWAY: What seems like a simple decision by the Supreme Court keeps showing its ripple effects, here for student athletes.

denying religious exemption to covid jab vax costing one hospital $10M in legal settlement

The post on Tuesday 8/16/2022 told us that denying religious exemption to COVID jab vax is costing one hospital $10M in legal settlement. The plaintiffs in the suit are a group of employees at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois. They filed suit last fall after being denied religious exemptions to the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The suit alleged a violation of Title VII by failing to provide an accommodation for sincerely-held religious beliefs. What happened to those who refused the vaccine on religious grounds is noted in the post. The suit also alleged a violation of federal law relative to the vaccine EUA – see the post for more on that. Now the parties have agreed to a settlement – which is before a judge for approval – that includes the monetary payment and other non-monetary relief as noted in the post. It is estimated that 523 current and former employees will qualify to share in the settlement.

TAKEAWAY: Know your obligations as an employer, whatever your field – and get assistance from an employment lawyer.

21 times homeowners’ associations were (allegedly) invasive, creepy, annoying, and downright out-of-control.

The post on Wednesday 8/17/2022 was about 21 times homeowners’ associations were (allegedly) invasive, creepy, annoying, and downright out-of-control.  Most condo and homeowner associations do what they need to, calmly and properly. But there are those times that things get out of hand. Reddit users recounted some of those, such as when an HOA attempted to hold a “secret” community meeting (by telling almost nobody and putting the notice where nobody would see it) and vote on turning a large field and walking path into an RV park. Why did the Board want to do that? See the post. In another incident, an owner slipped in her driveway, fell and broke her femur near the hip so she could not get up. She laid in the driveway, calling for help, and heard people walking by without stopping. Eventually someone called an ambulance. When she got home from the hospital, there was a letter from the HOA asserting a violation – see the post for what it was (and cringe). Another person said a coworker got a warning for having too many boxes in their garage; why is noted in the post. In another incident, the HOA told the owner they needed to enlarge their 1750 sf house to at least 1800 sf; based on the facts as noted in the post, the HOA lost the suit filed by the owner. Another owner got an exorbitant fine for a flower pot – see the post. And there are many more – read the post (and laugh and nod knowingly)

        TAKEAWAY: make sure your association does not become a future horror story – the Governing Documents should be followed and advice received from an experienced community association lawyer.

what you should consider when purchasing a condo or house/unit in a homeowners’ association

In the post on Thursday 8/18/2022 we learned what you should consider when purchasing a condo or house/unit in a homeowners’ association. In either situation, you pay and someone else does some or all of the maintenance. Some things to think about before buying include whether it will be your forever home or if you plan to rent it out at any point, pet restrictions, and more as noted in the post (along with why these things matter now and in the future). How you will finance the purchase can also make a difference – see the post. Check into insurance for your home and the rest of the association – as discussed in the post. And there are more things to consider as noted in the post – along with why they need to be part of the mix.

TAKEAWAY: Know what is and is not allowed in the association BEFORE you buy – and that it might change AFTER you buy, so know your rights and obligations by consulting a community association lawyer.

danderous liaisons: office romances

The post on Friday 8/19/2022 talked about Dangerous Liaisons: Office Romances. It happens, whether a married exec who says the subordinate with whom he is romantically involved will voluntarily leave the company so they can continue the relationship (but his employment ends when she disagrees) or a man showing up at work with weapons after a break-up to convince his ex to go with him or so many other examples (even in the post …). All of this is part of the job of HR, especially in this age of #MeToo. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that as more workers went remote, the number of workplace romances rose during the pandemic. Bet you didn’t see that coming! So now is the perfect time for employers to take a look at existing policies on workplace romance (and revise as necessary) or put in place new policies. Even if office romance is banned completely (which is the case in some workplaces), it still occurs, so it is better to just plan for it. At least one, and possibly two, situations where office romance should never be permitted are noted in the post. How detailed the policy should get depends on the company. Some items in the Meta (formerly Facebook) policy are noted in the post. The potential downside of too many rules is also in the post (along with how to overcome that downside). This may be even more of a problem for LGBTQ employees as detailed in the post – HR and the company must walk a fine line while remaining legal. And what about “love contracts”? They can be helpful, but not the “be all and end all” as discussed in the post. Other types of documentation can also be both helpful or hurtful depending on its content. For example, a company looking through company emails as part of an investigation into an allegation of discrimination discovered that the accused manager was having a relationship with another manager in the company. What happened in that situation is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Decide whether or not to require notification of office romances and any rules that will apply; discuss any policy/rules with an employment lawyer.

potter county, pa company gas field specialists to pay $184,000 to settle EEOC disability discrimination case

Finally, in the post yesterday 8/20/2022, we learned a Potter County, PA company, Gas Field Specialists, to pay $184,000 to settle EEOC disability discrimination case. The EEOC alleges that the employee who had worked for the company for 15 years was laid off and then terminated based on a disability or record of disability (same being a history of cancer). Allegedly an owner gave the person a reason for the layoff; that comment is noted in the post (yes, you can laugh). Not only does the consent decree provide for monetary relief to the employee for lost wages and compensatory damages, but it prevents adverse actions against employees based on health conditions that might expose them to a higher risk of health complications related to COVID-19 and much more as described in the post. Often the non-monetary provisions are just as important as the money.

TAKEAWAY: Know the law – and discuss any potential adverse actions with an employment lawyer before they come out of your mouth.

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