Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

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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What do you do when a chronically absent
employee—who’s already received a last-chance warning—is absent again?
Do you have to sort out whether that final “last-straw” absence is
covered by the FMLA, even if you could have fired the person weeks
earlier for being MIA?

The answer is unequivocally “yes”

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Question: Think you’ve got a dysfunctional workplace? Take a stroll through the recent 6th Circuit ruling in Parker v. General Extrusions.
The case describes a workplace in which Nancy Parker, one of the few
female employees on the machine-shop floor, was repeatedly taunted,
called names and physically harassed. The response from managers and HR
ranged from mild rebukes to outright humor.

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