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When Does Disability Leave Become an Unreasonable Accommodation?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/9/2014
court room

When has an employer done enough to avoid liability for disability discrimination? Though hard and fast rules are rare in employment discrimination cases, particularly those involving disabilities, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that employers are almost never required to provide more than 6 months leave to an employee with a disability.

The quality versus cost argument is nothing new especially when it comes to insurance. Consumers who pay less tend to get less, whether in the form of coverages, limits or financial security. And, when people choose cost over quality, it usually means they are uninformed about what they really need.

In Hwang v. Kansas State University, an assistant professor working under a one year employment contract was diagnosed with cancer. KSU gave Ms. Hwang a six-month paid leave of absence so she could get treatment. On the advice of her doctor, Ms. Hwang requested additional time off. According to Ms. Hwang, KSU refused her request and effectively terminated her employment.

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Warning: Whistleblowers Must be Handled with Care

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 6/4/2014
judge's gavel

Though dealing with a disgruntled employee can be hard, various anti-retaliation protections make it even harder when an employee’s complaints or conduct is protected by law. A 2013 Congressional Report identified 40 different federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws, including:

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Is There a Bully in Your Workplace?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 4/23/2014
workplace bully

Chances are there is a bully in your workplace, and that’s bad for business. The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines bullying as repeated mistreatment involving physically or verbally abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating or humiliating, or that interferes with or prevents work from getting done. According to the WBI’s 2014 Workplace Bullying Survey:

  • 27% are or have been victims of workplace bullying
  • 21% have witnessed workplace bullying
  • 23% are aware of workplace bullying
  • 65 million workers are affected by workplace bullying

Though the frequency of workplace bullying may come as a surprise to some, the consequences should not. Workplace bullying typically increases employee turnover, decreases productivity, reduces job satisfaction, undermines morale, increases workers’ compensation costs and increases employment-related litigation costs.

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Who is a Supervisor under Title VII? Why does it Matter?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/17/2013
supervisor and employee

Who is considered a supervisor under Title VII? Since our last article discussing Vance v. Ball State University, the U.S. Supreme Court has given us the answer. According to the Court, a supervisor is a person

empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim; to effect a significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.

Vance involved allegations of racial harassment and discrimination in violation of Title VII. Though the parties disputed the precise nature and scope of the harasser’s duties, it was clear that the harasser did not have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline the plaintiff. Given the harasser’s inability to take a tangible employment action against the plaintiff, the Court held that the harasser does not qualify as a supervisor under Title VII. More...

Individual Liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 4/3/2013
alarm clock

Did you know that individuals can be held personally liable for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? The FLSA’s broad definition of employer includes “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee.” The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered when it is appropriate to hold someone personally liable for wage and hour violations under the FLSA.

In Lamonica v. Safe Hurricane Shutters, Inc., former employees sued their employer to recover unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA. The employees also sued two of the corporate-employer’s directors, arguing that they sufficiently controlled the corporation to justify holding them personally liable under the FLSA. To support their case against the directors, the employees showed that: More...

Court Interprets FLSA’s Break Requirement for Nursing Mothers

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 1/29/2013

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently became the first federal appellate court to consider a significant, though rarely publicized, provision of the Affordable Care Act—the reasonable break time requirement for nursing mothers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In Miller v. Roche Surety and Casualty, an employee sued her employer alleging a violation of her rights as a nursing mother under the FLSA. Under the FLSA, employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child. This requirement, which extends for 1 year after the child's birth, requires an employer to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public,” so that the employee may express breast milk.

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Employers May See More Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 11/20/2012

An employer’s liability for sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act depends on whether the harasser is a supervisor. If the alleged harasser is the victim’s co-employee, the employer may have various defenses to liability. However, if the harasser is a supervisor, Title VII’s strict liability standard may be triggered and the employer may be left defenseless.

So, who is considered a supervisor under Title VII?

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Condominium Governance: For Emergency Use Only

by Anita Byer, President - The Human Equation on 10/9/2012

For Board Member education as defined by the State of Florida, Click Here.
For Community Associtation Manager Continuing Education, Click Here.

During an emergency, decisions need to be made fast. There usually isn’t time to go “by the book.” This is why Florida’s Condominium Act authorizes association boards to exercise additional emergency powers More...

Demanding Access to an Employee’s Facebook Account May Give Employee Access to Employer’s Bank Account

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/26/2012

Social media websites like Facebook have become the new water cooler. Once discussions (and gossip) about the workplace, supervisors and co-workers moved online, employers started getting curious about who was saying what to whom. More...

Eleventh Circuit Pereda Case: FMLA Protection for Employees Not Eligible for FMLA Leave?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 2/22/2012

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently answered an interesting and important question regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Does the FMLA protect a pre-eligibility request for post-eligibility leave? More...

'Tis the Season-for Celebration or Litigation?

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 10/18/2010

The halls have been decked, and employees have donned their gay apparel; everyone appears to be in good cheer at the office holiday party, held on a Saturday night at an off-site location. More...

Diversity Training and Investigation May Save Employer from Hostile Work Environment Claim

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 10/14/2010

Diversity in the workplace is a good thing. When men and women of different races, religions, ethnicities, and ages work together in an environment of tolerance and respect, the possibilities are limitless. More...

Florida's Constitution Amendment To Women in the Workplace: Visible Gains, Invisible Barriers

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 10/1/2010

Since WWII expanded women's roles into the military and business arenas, women have been making steady and significant strides toward full equality in the workplace. More...

Avoid Sexual Harassment Through Training

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 10/1/2010

Over the last 10 years, incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace have dramatically increased. Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) indicate that the number of sexual harassment complaints received has risen by 30%. More...

Diversity Training and Investigation May Save Employer from Hostile Work Environment Claim

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 1/14/2010

Diversity in the workplace is a good thing. When men and women of different races, religions, ethnicities, and ages work together in an environment of tolerance and respect, the possibilities are limitless. More...

Time-Off to Vote?

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 10/30/2008

Our company, which has offices in 11 states, has received numerous inquiries from employees regarding our time-off policy for the purpose of voting in the upcoming general election. More...

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Categories: 2008, Human Resources

FMLA Provisions in Employee Handbooks

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 10/9/2008

Due to the slowing economy, our company has been forced to downsize its workforce in the past two years, and, as a result, we are no longer large enough for our existing employees to qualify for coverage by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Should we delete any references to the FMLA from our employee handbook? More...

Bankruptcy Discrimination

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 7/25/2008

It has come to my attention that my best cashier recently filed for bankruptcy. I no longer feel comfortable letting him operate the checkout line without supervision, however, I am finding it difficult to watch him all the time. Can I fire this employee based on his bankruptcy filing? More...

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Categories: 2008

Interracial Marriage Discrimination

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 5/22/2008

One of my employees, a white man, has been harassed and threatened with termination by his supervisor because he is married to an African-American woman. More...

Co-Worker Retaliation under Title VII

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 4/25/2008

One of my employees, after alleging that a popular supervisor sexually harassed her, has also claimed to have been repeatedly harassed by several coworkers angry at her for filing a complaint against this supervisor, with whom they are friends. More...

The Human Equation's newsletters and publications are intended as an information source for the clients and friends of the firm. Their content should not be construed as legal advice, and readers should not act upon the information in these publications without professional guidance. Please note that newsletters and publications that are archived by The Human Equation are not updated after initial publication and may not contain the most current information available.

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