Case In Point — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 2
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Case In Point

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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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?

We all know by now that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows qualified employees to request “reasonable accommodations” to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Employer and employee must engage in an “informal, interactive process” to identify what is a reasonable accommodation. But, what if an employee gives you a laundry list of accommodations to consider? Do you have to go back and forth about every single one? When does the employer get to draw the line? One court recently warned employers that if the “ADA request ball” is in your court…you had better lob it back to the employee.

When employees suffer temporary disabilities, good employers make good-faith efforts to accommodate. Sometimes that includes placing the employee on a light-duty assignment and temporarily cutting out an essential function of her job. But can that employee legally demand that the light-duty job remain permanently? A new ruling this week offers a good lesson – and some extra words to add to your organization’s job descriptions …
Federal law requires your organization to grant “reasonable” accommodations for employees’ religious practices. Where’s the line between reasonable and unreasonable? God only knows. But this important new ruling sheds light on when you can say “no” to religious requests …
Anyway you slice it, employers these days should never deny an employee’s religious accommodation request without first checking with a lawyer. It’s just all very complicated with so many religions and their different rules on grooming, clothing and attendance. But can you draw the line when a religion requires followers to wear a sword—even in the workplace?

Before your organization disciplines an employee, it's always important to ask these questions: Have other employees violated the same policy? If so, what action did we take against that other employee? How similar are those two situations? One court recently said employers shouldn't search for “identical” situations—“similar” is good enough. In fact, if you don’t discipline “similarly” you might end up with double trouble, as this employer did …

 

 

Over the next five years, an estimated 300,000 service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserves, will annually leave the military. Many will be rejoining your workforce, and federal law says they're entitled to be given their jobs back. One court recently clarified that military employees may also be entitled to a discretionary promotion that they may have earned while they were away serving our country ...

Employers have been told for years that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires them to accommodate disabled employees so they can perform the essential functions of the job. So if an office worker has a back injury, then you may need to provide a certain type of ergonomic chair, right? A desk job needs a chair.

But what if that same office worker asks for a parking spot closer to the building? How is that request tied to the essential functions of her desk job? As this new ADA-expanding court ruling shows, you may need to be more open to accommodating any kind of accommodation request—not just one that’s linked to the job’s essential functions ...
On the opening day of the NFL season, we pause today to recognize the football-related expressions that have seeped into the workplace. We ask employees to “quarterback” a project. We develop a “game plan” for the big meeting. We praise workers who are “on the ball.” But as a new court ruling shows, supervisors who misuse sports analogies at work could find themselves benched in a federal courtroom …
Your waitress says, “We don't have Diet Coke. We have Diet Pepsi. Will that be okay?" Both will wash down your burger and both have zero calories. But are they otherwise equivalent enough to be substitutes? When an employee returns from absences that are covered under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), he or she is entitled to “the same or an equivalent position” (see box below). But what counts as “equivalent”? As this new court ruling shows, it goes beyond simple pay, benefits and working conditions ...
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has recently defined who is a “supervisor,” can employers finally relax and cut down on their employment liability insurance? Nope. Not so fast. One court recently ruled that even a manager who can’t “hire, fire or discipline” can still hold a company responsible for Title VII harassment liability if he or she fails to send an employee’s complaint to the correct links on the corporate chain.
Nike had it just right. When an employee has a known medical condition and requests a reasonable accommodation, JUST DO IT! Too often, accommodating an employee's disability becomes a power struggle between the employee and the company. But, next time the decision is in your court, just remember this: Employees always have the greatest power of all because they can drag your company’s wallet and reputation into court.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important ruling that defines a "suprervisor" in discrimination cases as someone who has the power to hire, fire, demote, transfer or discipline other workers are not “supervisors.” This narrow definition of supervisor is a win for employers, but what does it all mean to your life in HR?

Leaving certain words out of your disciplinary policy can be just as legally dangerous as putting the wrong words in. In this case, the employer’s discipline policy essentially allowed employees to engage in one act of sexual harassment without being terminated. The employer was quick to find out it had better give everyone that “freebie” or be sued for discrimination if it deviated from the policy ...
When an employee requests a medical leave, employers can rightfully ask for supportive documents from a doctor. But, what happens when the person requests a schedule change for religious reasons? You can't exactly ask for a note from the employee's higher power. One court recently ruled that as long as you properly dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s," you can discipline employees for not showing up as scheduled ... even if they claim it's for religious reasons.
Employers typically require workers to undergo fitness for duty exams (FFDEs) when employees return after an injury. But can you also require an FFDE for employees who have shown mental instability? And can you demand an FFDE from employees who work at home? A court recent ruling last week in favor of Coca-Cola says you can if safety issues are the real thing ...
When was the last time you took a red pen to your employee handbook? Would you rather memorize all of your employee’s social security numbers backwards than open that Pandora’s box? One court recently warned you had better fix the problems or it might just be held against you as ‘Exhibit A’—as in this case below ...
We all have our days when we show up to work with a little red eye, in a bad mood and maybe even a bit “word challenged.” But when do those signs signal that an employee should be sent for a drug test? And how do you prevent claims of discrimination for singling that employee out? A court ruling last week gave some great insights. Plus, you can download a free sample policy on drug use and drug testing ..
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