REASON PREVAILS…

Life is beautiful. Thus far, the U.S. Supreme Court has been eminently reasonable in most of the decisions it’s issued in employment cases. For example, employers who provide more than 12 weeks of leave do not automatically owe their employees another 12 weeks just because they forgot to do the FMLA paperwork, employees must be really disabled to be protected by the ADA, employers don’t have to pay back pay to illegal alien employees. . . .

What a difference a year makes. A federal court in New York threw out an age discrimination lawsuit by a 71-year-old executive who was fired. His age when he was hired by the same group of people? 70.

You snooze, you lose. A federal court in Kansas held that an employer did not owe overtime pay for time that an employee spent sleeping (albeit on premises).

How come we can’t grasp this concept? Not an employment case, but we’ve just gotta mention it: In Great Britain, 36 plaintiffs sued McDonald’s over hot coffee, just like in the infamous American lawsuit. But, unlike our American plaintiff who got a huge verdict (later reduced through a settlement), the court in Britain threw out the lawsuits, sensibly ruling that one should expect one’s coffee to be hot.

" NOW can we fire him? Please?" In a "Flails" column a few issues ago, we had an item about an arbitrator ordering an employer to reinstate a man who was terminated after he allegedly killed another father at their sons’ hockey practice. The arbitrator "reasoned" that the alleged killing was not work-related and thus not a legitimate ground for discharge. A jury recently found "devoted dad" Thomas Junta guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and he was sentenced to six to 10 years, which raises the question —will the arbitrator let his employer fire him for attendance now that he’s in the pen?

REASON FLAILS…

Maybe the Abbott & Costello version would be a reasonable accommodation. A federal judge in Maryland refused to dismiss an ADA lawsuit in which the plaintiff, an actress, alleged that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that were aggravated by, among other things, people who raised their voices. She sued under the ADA after being fired by a theater company that was performing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

"But if I hadn’t been fired, I’d have worked there forever...if I hadn’t died." A federal court in Michigan affirmed a front pay award in an age discrimination case filed by the widow of an employee who committed suicide before the suit was even filed.

Ach du lieber! If you think it’s hard to terminate employees in the U.S., just be glad you don’t live in Germany, where they actually try to force you to hire people you don’t need. The Westphalia region (where the good ham comes from) has issued a regulation stating hog farmers must give each of their charges 20 minutes of personal attention each day. The hog farmers claim that the mandatory pig-caressing will pretty much fill their entire work day... unless they hire more employees to perform this useless activity.

Jury also believes word "gullible" is not in dictionary. A plaintiff in a sexual harassment case won $215,000 even though she reportedly admitted that she had consented to the relationship. The California jury bought her claim that she "couldn’t resist" the advances of the "harasser" because she was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. And, as the cherry on top of the sundae of injustice, the employer of both individuals is the one who has to pay.

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