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Jonathan Hyman

A refusal to grant time off as an accommodation for the disability of an employee’s family member will only pass muster for employers too small to be covered by the FMLA or employees who did not work long enough to be eligible for FMLA leave.

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The NLRB has continued its assault on garden-variety em­­ploy­­ment policies, issuing three decisions in recent weeks, each of which concluded that facially neutral employment policies violated employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity.

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Employees who complain about alleged discrimination are protected from punishment under the so-called opposition clause of Title VII. Not every vague allegation, however, amounts to opposition.

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Title VII requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance conflicts with a work requirement, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. If you are planning to reject an employee’s request for a shift change as a religious accommodation, you must be able to support the claim of hardship with facts.

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In Litton v. Talawanda School Dis­­trict, a demoted and transferred custodian sued his employer for age and race discrimination. In Litton, did the 6th Circuit unwittingly create a cause of action for benign discrimination? Or, is this case an aberration that future courts will distinguish and disregard?

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Earlier this year, the EEOC published Veterans and the Ameri­­cans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A Guide for Employers. In the guide, the EEOC asks the following question: May a private employer give preference in hiring to a veteran with a disability over other applicants?

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Each year, new employment laws go on the books and courts write thousands upon thousands of decisions interpreting old laws. Yet, year after year, many HR professionals reach up onto a dusty shelf to hand new employees the same old employee handbook someone wrote years ago—too often without a second of consideration whether the contents still pass legal muster.

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It is illegal in Ohio for an employer to discriminate because of the em­­­ployee’s disability. But it’s not always easy to figure out who this proscription covers, because Ohio’s statute and the federal ADA have their own respective definitions of “disability,” which vary slightly.

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The Affordable Care Act health care reform law requires employers to provide space for ­mothers to lactate. According to the latest available statistics, the DOL has cited a whopping 23 companies for failing to comply. What do the statistics mean? Either the lactation mandate is not yet widely known, but complaints (and citations) will rise as public knowledge catches up with the law’s requirements; or the lack of lactation space in American workplaces is a myth that never needed a legislative solution.

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In late January, the National Labor Relations Board released an “Operations Management Memo” that purports to offer additional guidance to employers and HR professionals concerned about employees’ use of social media. I can sum up the NLRB’s report in three words: What a mess.

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Employers usually don’t have a problem terminating an em­­ployee for poor performance if the employee has never raised any kind of discrimination claim. But somehow, as soon as an employee goes to the EEOC (or even just HR) with a complaint, the same employer doesn’t know what to do. Should you terminate the em­­ployee and face a potential retaliation suit?

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While in your employ, an employee has an absolute duty to act in your best interests, and not to act in the interests of anyone else in a way that is contrary to yours. The “duty of loyalty” prohibits employees from taking certain competitive actions while still working for you. Here’s how to limit the damage from an employee-turned-competitor:

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It is generally agreed that anti-discrimination laws don’t create a general code requiring workplace civility. Harassment lawsuits won’t normally fly unless the abuse is objectively and subjectively severe or pervasive enough to alter the terms and conditions of one’s employment. A recent case, Williams v. CSX Transp. Co., illustrates these principles in action.

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The EEOC is getting serious about helping disabled Americans. In early June, the agency held a public meeting on the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation. That move came just two weeks after the agency put its new ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) regulations into effect.

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In a recent case, EEOC v. Kaplan Higher Education, employers scored a major victory. Now, perhaps, we can expect more courts to look skeptically on some of the EEOC’s tactics, giving employers more tools to build the workforces they need.

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Most people think of 50 as the magic number for the FMLA. “Oh, we have 50 employees, so now we have to comply with the FMLA,” is a popular refrain among HR departments. It is not that simple. The FMLA has two different rules that must be met before you have to offer FMLA leave to an employee—coverage and eligibility, which both have the magic number 50 as a key component.

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Short staffing makes management difficult. When an employee is out on medical leave, others have to pick up the slack. Still, remind supervisors that they can’t push employees who are out on FMLA leave to perform work while on leave. They also can’t ask employees to return early from FMLA leave. Either one is just asking for legal trouble.

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Don’t read too much into the NLRB’s recent “Facebook rant” ruling. Despite much employer hand-wringing, the decision didn’t give employees a free pass on social media posts. They still don’t have license to defame, disparage or otherwise trash their company, management, product or co-workers. Here’s why.

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Don’t read too much into the recent foray by the NLRB into the brave new world of social media. Employees don’t receive a free pass on social media posts. They don’t have license to defame, disparage or otherwise trash their company, management, product or co-workers. Until the NLRB says otherwise, employers shouldn’t treat social media any differently than any other form of employee communications.

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The typical retaliation scenario involves an employer firing an employee who has complained about discrimination or engaged in some other protected activity. What happens, however, if the employer retaliates after the end of the employment relationship? Do the anti-retaliation laws cover allegations of post-employment misconduct? The short answer is yes.

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