Posts in HR.

Your reviews of your employer may not be as anonymous as you think.

According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published this week, 48 percent of working women believed they had been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

My reaction was, “Only 48 percent?”

How much do you know about an employer’s reasonable accommodation obligations under the law(s)? Take this quiz and find out!

"Nice Accommodations!"

Question 1: Which of the following federal employment laws require reasonable 

accommodation, either by their terms or as courts have interpreted them over the years?

A. The Americans with Disabilities Act

B. The Family and Medical Leave Act

C. Title VII-religion

D. The Nursing Mothers Act

E. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

F. All of the above

G. A, C, D, and E

ANSWER: G. The FMLA does not require reasonable accommodation, but all of these other laws do. And there is some overlap between the FMLA and pregnancy or disability accommodation because leave for pregnancy or disability can be a form of reasonable accommodation.

It’s not always the employee’s fault when things go bad for an employer. Sometimes the employer has no one to blame but itself. Here are six of the most common ways employers sink their own ships.

No. 1: Pointless workplace rules that just make employees mad. I can’t take credit for this one — I got the idea from this article that recently appeared in Forbes. I don’t agree with the author 100 percent, but I adamantly agree with her on some of them, especially requiring an employee to bring a doctor’s note whenever he is out sick (not requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, not requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability, but just “out sick”). Also, amen to No. 5 in the Forbes article.

Words fail me. Let’s just say that I hope he is sincere about getting the help he needs to turn his life around.

Which, among other things, should include trying to make some form of restitution to his allegedvictims. (None of this ridiculous “atonement by fighting the NRA.”)

There are more Weinstein stories than I can link to, but here are the two original sources: The article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in The New York Times is here, and Ronan Farrow’s excellent and very disturbing article in The New Yorker is here.

Mr. Weinstein, through a spokesperson, has denied engaging in any non-consensual sexual relations or retaliating against anyone who refused his advances. The full denial is in the video, below.

Here are my eight takes from an employment law and Human Resources perspective:

No. 1: “Quid pro quo” harassment is just a fancy word for extortion — where the prize is sex, instead of money or property. When an employer threatens to terminate (or otherwise punish) an employee for refusing sexual advances, or promises to hire (or otherwise reward) her for participating, then that is extortion. (I’m using “she” and “her” for convenience, but men can be victims, too.) In the ordinary employment context, an employer is strictly (automatically) liable if a supervisor or manager engages in this type of harassment.

This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a “multimonth leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In doing so, the court rejected longstanding guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a long-term medical leave is a reasonable accommodation when the leave is (1) definite and time-limited (not open ended); (2) requested in advance; and (3) likely to enable the employee to perform the essential job functions on return. Noting that under the EEOC’s position “the length of leave does not matter,” the court characterized it as an “open-ended extension” of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Must-see ConstangyTV! The September edition of ConstangyTV’s “Close-Up on Workplace Law” is on YouTube, and you will not want to miss it. Host Leigh Tyson talks with Jon Yarbrough about social media in the workplace, including social media horror stories and what employers can do about them, the restrictions that have been imposed on social media policies by the National Labor Relations Board, and how that might change now that we have a Republican majority on the Board. To save you a long, grueling trip to our YouTube site, here it is:

Trump’s 8 zillionth* travel ban: what employers need to know. President Trumpissued a new travel ban “proclamation” on Sunday, and the excellent Will Krasnow of our Boston Office has read it and explains it all for us in this Immigration Dispatch.

*I might be exaggerating.

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by Jelene Morris.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.)

Last week, I received a scathing comment from Dale Kleber, a Chicago-area lawyer and a plaintiff in an age discrimination lawsuit. Mr. Kleber did not like my gut reaction to his lawsuit, which was based on an article that I’d read in The Washington Post. It appeared to me that Mr. Kleber — then a 58-year-old lawyer with roughly 30 years of experience, including experience as a CEO of a dairy industry trade group, Chief Legal Counsel, and General Counsel — was rejected for a low-level in-house staff attorney position because he was overqualified for the position, not because he was 58 years old.

Prompted by Mr. Kleber’s comment, I have now read the court papers (well, a lot of them, anyway).*

*Mr. Kleber’s case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, but it is still in the very early stages. For you procedural nerds, I’ve included a summary at the end of this post. Non-nerds can skip it.

Now that I know more about Mr. Kleber’s lawsuit, I haven’t changed my mind. In other words, I still think he was rejected for being overqualified.

Can’t “overqualified” be a code word for “too old”? Yes, but not necessarily. Read on!

At a client seminar that my office presented during the very contentious 2016 campaign season, my law partner John Doyle delivered an introductory disclaimer. Although I may not have his words verbatim, I will never forget the message, which was as follows:

The only thing we’re partisan about is employers. That’s it.

It was a great way to dispel the perception that we were being politically partisan while we had to discuss the positive and negative impacts of the candidates’ proposals on employment law issues.

This morning, I got a comment from the plaintiff in an age discrimination lawsuit that I referenced last year, based on an article that had appeared in The Washington Post. Here’s what the plaintiff, Dale Kleber, said to me:

Well, Robin, I was surprised that although you have formal legal training, the article you wrote contains so many factual assumptions that simply are false. I suspect that your firm primarily represents defendant employers and your “analysis” is tainted with the bias of economic self-interest. In the near future, I expect to obtain an objective review of my case from the the Seventh Circuit. Your article, devoid as it is of even the most basic factual or legal analysis is simply an editorial masquerading as a legal newsletter. But perhaps that is what your clients want to hear.

I admit I did not think Mr. Kleber was a victim of age discrimination based on the information in the WaPo article, and I admit that I said so. Reading between the lines on his comment, it appeared to me that he had lost his case (since he was hoping to be vindicated on appeal), but I read the court filings today and it’s more complicated than that. (I’ll have a separate blog post about the merits of Mr. Kleber’s lawsuit, which I think is pretty interesting.)

As far as writing “editorials” on this blog, I plead guilty. This ain’t, after all, The New York Times.

I also admit that I and my firm represent employers, and that we are always on the employers’ side.

But what I’d really like to talk about is what it means to be “on the employers’ side,” or, as John says, “partisan” on behalf of employers.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, y’all!

The month of August was not kind to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC’s wellness regulations were shot down by a federal court in the District of Columbia, and earlier this week the agency was told that it could not require employers to report compensation data on the new EEO-1 Reports.

But the EEOC also scored a big ...

Robin Shea has more than 20 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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