I will be presenting at a seminar on Employment Law: Beyond the Basics in Des Moines, IA on November 8th on this topic. It's a full day seminar and other highly relevant topics and highly regarded speakers. Further information is at: https://store.sterlingeducation.com/seminar/12IA11283
Today's task is to pull together my research and create an outline for each of the two subjects I'm speaking on at an upcoming seminar: "Privacy & Social Media in the Workplace" and "Sexual, Racial and Other Harassment & Discrimination". Seminar will be on December 14 in Des Moines and is being put on by Sterling Education.
One employment law claim that has been quickly becoming more popular these days is "family status discrimination". That is, discriminating against someone based on their familial obligations or simply because they have a family in the first place.
I was conducting some research into 'familial status discrimination' in housing and in a Google search came across this blog comment from a couple of years ago which sets out some of the arguments in favor of applying it to employment discrimination. Some circuits have said there is no such thing under Title VII, but as this author notes, there are theories [e.g., sex role stereotyping, moral stereotyping] which would seem to permit this case to proceed even under Title VII as a form of gender discrimination.
An article in Barron's supports, in a big way, the importance of keeping good business records. The article details how the IRS disputed a $75,000 repayment of a loan for a business owner named Henry resulting instead in a $68,000 dividend, on which Henry owed tax.
This is also true for employers. In most cases [I'd say all, but there's always an exception; 99.44% perhaps] keeping adequate records of payroll, employee time and records, behavior of employees, etc., is essential. Without records, why should a judge or jury believe the employer over an employee? After all, it's the employer who is expected to have the motive and ability to handle record-keeping.
When the President of the United States warns schoolchildren to watch what they say and do on Facebook, you know that we've got a problem...and it's not one limited to the U.S.'s borders, either. People everywhere are mindlessly over-sharing on the world's largest social network, without a second thought as to who's reading their posts or what effect it could have on them further down the road. For example, did you know that 30% of today's employers are using Facebook to vet potential employees prior to hiring? In today's tough economy, the question of whether to post those embarrassing party pics could now cost you a paycheck in addition to a reputation. (Keep that in mind when tagging your friends' photos, too, won't you?)
The Huffington Post this week has the story of a school employee [who] lost his job after he posted a one-word vulgarity in the comments section of an online article at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The school employee posted an anonymous, one-word comment that referred, in vulgar terms, to a woman's anatomy on a newspaper's comment section. An editor from the paper tracked the IP address for the comment to a school district computer and sent the district the information (perhaps with the thought that a student needed to be warned against using the school computer lab for such activities). The district's IT department used that information to track down the sender, which turned out to be an employee.
Before 1993, workers who became parents were subject to the policies and whims of their employers. Requests to stay home on leave with a newborn could be denied for any reason...[FMLA], it is still a major source of confusion for expectant parents trying to figure out their rights, responsibilities and options. According to Marcia McCormick, an associate professor at St. Louis University School of Law and an editor of the Workplace Prof Blog, one of the biggest misconceptions about FMLA is that it is paid leave—it isn't. FMLA only guarantees that your employer holds your position for you for 12 weeks. While some employers offer more generous parental leave plans that include paid time off, they are not legally required to. "If you do have some kind of paid leave—like if you have sick leave or vacation leave—you can opt to substitute some of that paid leave for the unpaid leave," she says. "Or, your employer might require you to use your paid leave as part of your FMLA time period." ...... [continued]
"In my mind, it's like any other medication," said Karapandza, 28, a Sterling Heights resident and cell phone repairman. "You wouldn't go up to your boss and tell him you've got a prescription for Vicodin."
I'm sure you've heard something about the Jamie Leigh Jones case, where she went to work for Halliburton in Iraq and was beaten, gang-raped, held hostage and threatened by her co-workers and Halliburton. She finally won her freedom and came home [thanks to her father and her diligent Congressman]. She brought suit for all those things done to her and the defense was that she signed an employment contract requiring her to go through arbitration run by the company.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals [Jones v. Halliburton Co., 2009 WL 2940061 (5th Cir. Sept. 15, 2009] just came out with a decision in which it confirmed that although some claims were limited to arbitration in the company, not all of them were.
In the meantime, she also provided sobering testimony to Congress this year about her treatment and the treatment of women by our contractors in Iraq, and about the limitations on her right to a jury trial. As she testified, "it should not be legal for a large multibillion-dollar corporation to force [arbitration] on a person who needs a job to survive and doesn’t understand what the process involves."