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Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

Ever have employees tell you they need time off for religious reasons? Or, that they won’t perform a certain task because it’s against their religion? Their managers may be tempted to yell “Clam up and get back to work,” but that’s an expensive reply, as two new court rulings show.

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Overtime and harassment are big deals, but a less headline-grabbing risk—retaliation—may be an even bigger danger. And a new court ruling shows that employees who reach out to the police to report inter-office harassment can also earn legal protection from being fired or any other form of retaliation.

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You can’t expect employees to walk into HR and ask, “May I have a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990? Oh, and don’t forget to engage me in the required interactive process!” As the following case shows, blowing off that interactive process could be seen by the courts as “bad faith,” which gives the employee a direct admission ticket to a jury trial …

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Does your organization have a policy requiring employees to retire (or step down to a lesser position) once they hit a certain unbecoming age? Does that sound like your strategic succession plan—push your working geezers and geezeretts out the door so younger workers can climb the ladder? If so, a groundbreaking $27.5 million EEOC settlement last week shows that you better retire those policies … not the people…

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You’ve probably heard about this week’s big $11.6 million sexual harassment verdict against former basketball star and New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas. The bad news: Your employees heard about it, too … and it planted a seed in their minds …

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Does your company allow employees to play music while they work? Do you ever pay attention to the words? The EEOC says maybe it’s time you plug in. Some companies that don’t monitor their employees’ choices in music just might be singing the “EEOC blues,” as the following case shows…

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Next time you have to decide if an employees’ medical condition is “serious” enough to qualify for FMLA leave, maybe you should grab your Grey’s Anatomy medical book (or maybe just watch the TV show) to brush up on your ability to diagnose. That seems to be what a court is urging in an important ruling that many have overlooked.

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Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. That’s certainly true with the, um, “unique” religious discrimination case that comes to us this month from America’s heartland. The case hammers home a clear lesson: It’s never appropriate for company leaders to force employees to adhere to certain religious practice …

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While the ADA requires companies to make job accommodations for disabled workers, you don’t have to employ anyone who can’t perform the “essential functions” of the job. And on-time attendance is an “essential function,” right? Not necessarily, as the following case shows …

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Does your organization have a blanket policy of refusing to hire any applicant with a criminal record? If so, make sure you can explain exactly why. A recent Pennsylvania court ruling shows that across-the-board “no ex-cons” policies can quickly run into legal trouble unless you can prove the restriction for a specific position was “job-related and consistent with business necessity”…

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