Employers are doing more with fewer employees, which means employees are working more hours. That’s fine as long as nonexempt employees are paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. If they’re misclassified as nonexempt employees, employers will owe overtime for the extra hours being worked. That could amount to big money.
At times, I have surmised that one reason women are usually the victims of sexual harassment is that most men can’t resist the power of The Man Gene. A recent case demonstrates that some men can defeat The Man Gene and even be the victims of sex harassment. In EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services, Inc., a male employee filed a harassment claim against his employer and a female co-worker.
For a long time, an employment decision based on pregnancy has been against the law. It violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Apparently, it’s not as well know as I thought, or employers continue to ignore the law, at least according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
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.
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.
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.
All HR professionals know that a harassment claim must be investigated promptly and then appropriate action taken. In Moody v. East Mississippi State Hospital, decided by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, an employee’s suit was dismissed, in part, for exactly that reason.
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.
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.
Last week, I called out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for its failure to seriously consider whether the National Football League is violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Based on a recent article in the Washington Post, no one should hold his breath until OSHA investigates the NFL. The agency is way behind with other duties it’s supposed to perform.
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.
When I began this blog, I predicted that the big area of employment litigation for the future was age discrimination. Because of the sheer number of aging baby boomers, many would be retired or discharged, arguably in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). When I made this prediction, I didn’t see the Great Recession coming.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class action against Area Temps, alleging that the temporary agency had honored some of its clients’ requests to deny employment on the basis of race, age, gender, and national origin. To meet its client’s requests, Area Temps devised a code to screen out applicants. The code was used to make sure the agency didn’t place the wrong person at a client that had indicated a preference.
Earlier this week, three former female employees of Goldman Sachs filed suit against the firm for sex discrimination. The three women allege that Goldman systematically discriminates against female employees by paying them less than males in comparable positions. They also contend that Goldman promotes male employees more frequently than females.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), placing a disabled employee (who is qualified) in a vacant position has always been a reasonable accommodation. But when is a position vacant? That may seem like a question easily answered, but not always. The recent case of Duvall v. Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, decided by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, shows why.
Jon Hyman has an excellent post on the effect of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) on many types of illnesses and diseases, cancer in particular. His post includes a summary of one of the first cases decided under the ADAAA. Before the ADA was amended, if an employee’s cancer was in remission, there was probably no disability. This conclusion was based on decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, which were overturned by the ADAAA.
Shatkin, Shifflett, Maples and Knight worked together as administrative assistants. Shatkin, Shifflett and Maples didn’t get along with Knight. These three employees had strong religious beliefs and decided to seek a higher power’s help in dealing with Knight. After the workday had ended and Knight had left for the day, Shatkin, Shifflett and Maples gathered at Knight’s cubicle. Shatkin rubbed olive oil on the metal doorway of the cubicle to invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit. Shifflett began chanting to remove the demons that possessed Knight. Maples offered an amen.
Well, Hewlett-Packard apparently regards Mark Hurd more highly than we thought. HP fired Mark Hurd, its CEO, for filing false expense reports. (Here and here.) This decision resulted from a sexual harassment claim against Hurd, although HP ’s investigation turned up no evidence of harassment.
Last week, I had a post about the restaurant server who filed a claim with the Tennessee Occupational Safety Health Administration, contending that Tennessee’s law allowing registered gun owners to bring their guns into restaurants and bars that serve alcohol violated TOSHA. Why? Allowing guns to be brought into places that serve alcohol creates a dangerous and unsafe workplace for employees who work in the restaurants and bars because of the threat of violence.