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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You may think that what employees do in the breakroom or at a post-work happy hour is their own business. That could be an expensive mistake. As this new case shows, company culture and employees’ off-duty comments can be used as evidence of race discrimination unless you do something about it. An anti-discrimination policy isn’t enough. Instead, get proactive. Don’t just integrate the shop floor. Inte­­grate the lunchroom, too …
What if an employee has a fear of entering a burning building … and that person is employed as firefighter? Is such a fear considered an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-protected disability that must be accommodated?
Employers often must be fully staffed to function efficiently. But, what’s an employer to do if it is already short staffed and an employee requests leave for a last-minute medical appointment? Just how much scheduling chaos must an employer tolerate before saying “no?” As this new court ruling shows, employers will be rolling the liability dice if they try use staffing problems as a reason to deny leave ...
There is only one boss. The customer. But what if the customer or another outsider is harassing one of your employees? Can your organization be held liable? One court recently warned employers against adopting the “hear no evil, see no evil” strategy.
We all understand that granting reasonable accommodations under the ADA may include providing employees with a new chair or granting more flexible breaks. But a new case this month says employers may have to allow a worker to steal their own merchandise as a reasonable accommodation. Really? What’s reasonable about that? Grab a bag of chips and read on ...

You read that right. Soon you will recall the good ol’days when employee handbooks could prohibit employees from having a “discourteous or inappropriate attitude or behavior.” But last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that such language was too broad and could possibly deter employees from discussing their pay or working conditions with colleagues. The NLRB strikes again. How could this be?

Now, this is a good idea. Let’s say you have an employee who is returning from an injury. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires you to offer her a “reasonable” accommodation, but you want to make sure the accommodation is safe. So  you decide to have the employee demonstrate that accommodation to see for yourself. That’s a smart move … just make sure you follow through on the demonstration.
There are times when employers are just better off settling an employment lawsuit. Prolonged litigation is costly ... cut your losses and move on. But it’s always wise for such settlements to include a confidentiality clause. And, as this new ruling shows, your old confidentiality clause may need a new social-media facelift …
Have you ever offered an employee the option to resign or get fired? Maybe you believed you were helping the employee to graciously exit the workplace without the embarrassment of a termination. However, doing so today just may fall under the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category. As this new court ruling this month shows, such ultimatums might ultimately give you ulcers in court under the “ultimatum theory” of liability …
When it comes to stopping employees from harassing each other, you can probably think of a lot of actions to take. On one end of the spectrum is termination (“You’re fired!”). At the other end is a verbal reprimand (“Stop it!”). But will a judge think a verbal reprimand is enough? One court recently did … and it saved the employer $510,000. You don’t say?
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