Until recently, Jim Callaghan was a writer for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the union that represents New York City teachers and that has made its name by actively opposing city officials’ power to fire teachers without due process. Now Callaghan is claiming UFT employees have no such protection themselves. He says he was fired after he began looking into unionizing UFT editorial employees.
The Federal Jury Act makes it clear that employers may not “discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States.” Two recent cases show that courts won’t turn a blind eye to employers that fire workers because of jury service.
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced it plans to study how employees use leave under the FMLA, a move that may signal that more regulatory changes are on the way.
It’s a misconception that anytime a supervisor has a romantic relationship with an employee, other employees can sue for sex discrimination. If that were the case, employers could be held liable for any number of legitimate (or unsavory) relationships between employees or even with outsiders.
While Congress ponders the Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, several states are studying ways to target employers that misclassify their employees as independent contractors. New York is part of a joint task force studying the misclassification problem.
Abusive managers may be workplace monsters, but their behavior generally hasn’t subjected employers to liability if no particular protected class was the target of the abuse. That may be about to change in New York.
You no doubt take sexual harassment complaints seriously and promptly try to learn the facts. But which facts should you consider when deciding whether the conduct creates a hostile work environment? Look at the totality of the circumstances. For example, comments that aren’t directly sexual can still contribute to a hostile environment if the context indicates that the comments are related to others that are sexual.
Here’s good news for supervisors who are afraid of making the wrong disciplinary decision: Employers don’t have to be right every time about the underlying reasons for disciplinary action. Instead, what counts is acting in good faith.
Some employees are difficult, always skating on thin ice. They’re disruptive, don’t listen to directions and pretty much do whatever they want. Even so, employers often hesitate to fire such troublemakers if they’ve recently requested FMLA leave or claimed to be disabled. Don’t be manipulated into keeping those bad apples.
Before you decide to videotape someone whom you suspect may be abusing FMLA leave, make sure you have a good-faith reason to do so. And be prepared to show that surveillance is a common practice for similar suspicions.