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Case In Point

Mindy Chapman Esq. is the founder of the nationally acclaimed “Workplace
Training that Clicks & Sticks™” and co-author of the American Bar
Association’s best seller and authority on civil rights training, “Case
Dismissed! Taking Your Harassment Prevention Training to Trial.” Case In Point is an entertaining look at the employment law cases impacting you today, plus practical ways to protect yourself and your company.

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Who likes confrontation at work? Yet that fear of confrontation can drive a manager to write a glowing evaluation for an average or poor-performing employee—just to avoid conflict and hurt feelings. One court recently warned managers to get over the fear and document accurately … or you’ll lose key legal defenses needed to win discrimination lawsuits.

Read any good books lately? Maybe the next one you ought to pick up is your organization’s own policy and procedures handbook. If I were to quiz you about it right now, could you score 100%? If not, as one court recently warned, a judge may just... throw the book at you!

We’ve all picked up the phone and been asked to give a reference about a former employee. For some, you’re glad they are out of your hair and it’s too late for them to sue you. So you’re honest about the person. But be careful. As a new case shows, it may never be too late for an ex-employee to take you to court …

Have you ever been suspicious about an employee’s request for FMLA leave? Employees have learned to play the FMLA game quite well in the 17 years since the law was passed. In this new case, an "attendance-challenged" employee was denied extra vacation leave for her wedding, so she then submitted an FMLA leave request for those same dates. Hmmmm … smell fishy?

Supervisors and managers MUST report harassment to higher-ups. But what are the reporting obligations of “team leaders” or “leads”? These are people who have more responsibilities than employees but less than full-fledged members of management. Leads live in that “gray zone” somewhere in between. So what are their obligations? One court recently clarified it: Train them like managers to report suspected harassment. Staying silent will create liability.

Personal voice mail messages are in the news this month. They can come back to haunt you, as Tiger Woods found out when he left evidence of his infidelity on voice mail. But what about leaving a voice mail message for a co-worker or subordinate? One court said, “Beware!” They can be smoking guns aimed directly at the employer’s wallet ...

What’s the difference between a friendly glance between co-workers and a sexual stare? A recent court ruling shows that sexual harassment is in the eye of the beholder — and managers better not roll their eyes if they witness it …

Job postings go up … they come down. They go up … they come down. It all seems quite normal. That is, unless you pull down a job posting to avoid a specific type of candidate. As this new case shows, you can’t delist a job or try to “hide” the position when you don’t like who applies. Peek-a-Boo, the court will catch you!

What if a management consultant suggests that you find “young, energetic” people to take over? A court ruling last week sends a clear warning: Be careful who you listen to for advice … and where you write it down.

It’s getting dark out sooner. And with the darker season comes struggles for employees who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression in which a decrease of natural light triggers a mood disorder. So does that mean you may have to offer SAD sufferers a workspace near sunlight? Quite possibly, as a recent court ruled that “Natural light may be a medical necessity”…

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