Some employers believe that pregnant women aren’t entitled to time off for pregnancy-related matters because pregnant women aren’t disabled or unable to perform their jobs. That’s wrong and can land employers in big trouble. The fact is that prenatal visits and even bouts of nausea are the sorts of things that Congress considered when covering pregnancy under the FMLA.
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Think retaliation won’t be a problem because plenty of time has passed since an employee complained about alleged discrimination? Think again! Always be on the lookout for possible retaliation, no matter how long it has been since the initial complaint.
When it comes to deciding whether to grant reasonable accommodations, the first step is to determine whether the employee is really disabled. A diagnosis isn’t the last word. Does the condition actually limit the employee in some substantial way?
Employees only have a short period of time to file their initial discrimination claims. The clock starts ticking as soon as the employee knows or should have known about some material, potentially adverse job change. That’s why you need to be absolutely clear to employees when you make a job change—and note it in your files.
Some employees facing discipline believe that if they file a discrimination complaint, they can escape trouble. If disciplined, they’ll cry “retaliation!” Smart employers counter this subtle form of blackmail by clearly documenting and time-stamping all decisions and the process that led up to those decisions.
Here’s some good news for employers that take sexual harassment complaints seriously. In Sutherland v. Wal-Mart, the 7th Circuit emphasized that an employer’s prompt response to an employee’s complaint of sexual harassment may protect it from liability.