Recent trends reveal that employment retaliation claims are on the rise. Further, courts are taking a hard line on offending employers accused of retaliation in employment. A review of United States Supreme Court decisions in retaliation cases reveals a remarkable degree of agreement among the Justices. Even conservative Justices who are considered supportive of business as a matter of judicial philosophy do not take kindly to retaliation against employees who have asserted workplace legal claims.
A Los Angeles public school teacher killed himself after the Los Angeles Times recently published the database of “value added analysis” for all LA public school teachers on which the teacher in question didn’t fare well. The “value added analysis” uses improvements in student test scores to evaluate teacher effectiveness. The analysis is designed to replace the tenure system with a performance system. Its critics use the teacher in question as proof of its flaws. This teacher was regarded by his students and colleagues as a good teacher. He tututored students before school started and stayed with them after school if necessary.
I’m not sure there’s been an employment law subject receiving as much attention in the last 12-18 months as social media. Employers have implemented policies to prevent employees from using social media to put the employer in a bad light. The National Labor Relations Board has just issued a complaint contending that such policies can be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
I have previously posted a survey of the laws in all 50 states concerning an employee’s right to vote. In case you’ve just heard about the survey, I’m giving you a link to the post again, so you can easily find it. In addition to the voting laws themselves, the post contains some practical tips concerning employee voting. Click here.
Much has been written about how the great recession has changed things forever. Those over 50 and unemployed may never work again. Consumerism will never be the same. Home ownership as the primary means of saving and investing is history. Today’s children won’t have nearly as good a life as we’ve had. The workplace will never again provide security and a reasonable living for most people.
Once a hot employment law issue, drug testing has been cool for quite some time. Most courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have ruled that there’s nothing wrong with testing for unlawful drugs, particularly in the private sector. So, for two decades, an increasing number of employers do drug testing routinely. The types of drug testing most commonly done are pre-employment, for cause or reasonable suspicion (for example, when an employee is involved in an accident at work, seems to be under the influence of something, etc.), and random.
The recent hubbub over Virginia Thomas asking Anita Hill to apologize to her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, got me to thinking. Almost 20 years had past since the original Hill/Thomas conflict. It’s still referred to occasionally, but it hasn’t been an issue for a long time. After the substantial media coverage of Mrs. Thomas request for an apology, Thomas’ long-time former girlfriend decided to come forward with allegations that her relationship with Thomas made her aware of Thomas’ addiction to pornography. More media coverage.
Much has been written on this subject, and I’m not sure I can add much. It seems that most people are outraged; want Juan Williams rehired; and accuse NPR of wrongful termination. A firing always gets people upset. The more public the firing of a well-known person, the greater the chance for outrage. It’s not like Juan Williams is the first person to ever be fired for subjective reasons.
No one was disciplined or fired in connection with the Christmas day (2009) attempted airplane bombing. No supervisor of Major Nidal Hasan (the Fort Hood shooter) was disciplined or fired in connection with their failure to act on clear signs that Hasan was a danger to himself and others. (Here) And now (here and here), no one is being disciplined or fired in connection with the suicide bombing in 2009 at an Afghan base, which killed seven CIA employees. It’s clear now that critical warnings about the suicide bomber simply weren’t reported to other CIA.
November 2 is just two weeks away. The mid-term elections are almost here. It’s predicted that there will be a lot of new faces in Congress next year. Remember, it was generally believed that the 2008 elections would usher in all kinds of new labor and employment laws. That hasn’t happened. It’s generally believed that the results of the mid-term elections will mean very little activity on the labor and employment front. It will be interesting to see if we are as wrong about the mid-term elections as we were about the 2008 elections.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, alcoholism is a disability. However, an alcoholic can be held to the same standards as other workers. He can be disciplined and even terminated if alcoholism interferes with work. Also, if an alcoholic employee comes to work while drinking or drunk, he can be fired.
I think it’s pretty clear that layoffs are going to continue and that our unemployment situation isn’t going to turn around anytime soon. In all likelihood, you will fire an employee, maybe several of the them, between now and the end of the year and on into next year. Things have changed a lot since the layoff craze began. Millions of people are sitting on edge every day. I’ve written as much as I can about why this should have never happened. As it continues, however, remember how stressed employees already are and how difficult being fired is, particularly in this economy. Instead of an email, memo, voicemail or some other impersonal contact, meet face-to-face with employees losing their jobs. You will need to give them something in writing. You can do that when you meet with them or give it to them later. Show them a little respect when they are on the verge of hearing what they’ve feared for months.
When the 2008 elections were approaching, I surveyed the laws in all 50 states concerning the voting rights of employees. With the mid-term elections a little more than three weeks away, it’s time for another review this subject. I know that some of you have been recently accessing the post I did back in 2008. The state laws remain basically the same, although there are a few changes. The purpose of this post is to make sure that you are up-to-speed on these laws in the state or states where you have facilities or employees.
It takes more than an allegation of horseplay to establish sexual harassment, but sometimes, it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. In Cross v. Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Inc., the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether alleged conduct was horseplay or sexual harassment.
Rick Sanchez, a CNN daytime anchor, was fired last week for going off on Jon Stewart and people like him. He did this in a radio interview. Jon Stewart came up because Stewart has repeatedly mocked Sanchez on The Daily Show. As Sanchez continued to talk, it became obvious that “the people like Stewart” were Jews. I’m not sure Sanchez said anything that was really anti-Semitic, but he did take a shot or two at Jews during the interview.
The Family and Medical Leave Act raises legal issues that aren’t easy to address or are misunderstood. Consider the case of Harvey v. Waste Management of Illinois, No. 1:08-cv-06828, N.D. Ill. An employee had 11 points for unexcused absences. One more, and termination would occur. When he arrived at work on the day in question, he reported to two supervisor that he was sick. One of the supervisors noticed the employee was visibly ill and had trouble standing. It was decided that the employee should go home. The employee’s absence that day was considered unexcused, giving him 12 points. He was terminated.
Most of us were taught not to cheat when we were growing up. Not in school. Not at work. Not anywhere. But when one grows up and sees that cheating makes people rich, allows them to climb the corporate ladder, gives them the edge in a deal, or flat out allows them to dupe their friends, an important question arises. Is cheating really the rule rather than the exception?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Muslim employees filed a record 803 religious discrimination charges for the year ended September 30, 2009. That’s up 20% over the year before. That exceeds the number of charges filed in the year after 9/11. There’s little doubt that these charges will set another record for the year ending September 30, 2010. The EEOC has taken this spike in Muslim-related religious discrimination charges seriously, filing several lawsuits on behalf of Muslim workers.
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, about 11 years ago, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, admitted that she dabbled in witchcraft when she was in high school. (Here) This news has traveled all over the place and has become a political issue in the Senate race. The ensuing hubbub is significant for employers, not because of politics, but because it raises an important issue under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents religious discrimination.
When it was announced this week that the chairman of the Vatican Bank was under investigation for money laundering, the Vatican said it was “perplexed and astonished.” The Vatican also expressed “maximum confidence” in the chairman. Sound familiar? The Vatican was astonished when the child sex abuse scandal first broke. The Vatican expressed confidence that Catholic priests would never engage in such outrageous conduct.