I intended to begin the week with a post about a company’s legal obligation to predict — yes, predict — an employee’s mental fitness for duty. Then, I started on a brief tangent on Ellen Pao, the former partner of a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, who just lost a highly-publicized gender discrimination claim against said former employer.

And a few hundred words later, that brief tangent became its own blog post — this one. (If you want a wild lawsuit brought by an airline captain who claimed that his former employer was negligent by failing to predict that he’d have a manic in-flight episode, come back tomorrow). Continue reading

The folks over at Glassdoor.com have compiled their Top Oddball Interview Questions for 2015. Except this year, there’s a twist. Glassdoor has grouped the questions by country: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany.

So, let’s put these question to the test. I’m going to take a random “oddball” question from each country, list my response, and predict whether I would have gotten the job: Continue reading

But, I’ll do my best to sort it out for you.

Let’s assume that you have a pregnant employee who tells you that she has a lifting restriction. In the past, you have accommodated employees with disabilities who had similar lifting restrictions. You’ve also done the same for folks who got injured on the job and others who lost their Department of Transportation (DOT) certifications.

If you don’t provide the same accommodation to the pregnant employee, have you violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

Continue reading

A few years ago, I posed the question: Is a workplace “English-only” rule legal? 

Yadda, yadda, yadda, sometimes.

That is, in this Compliance Manual, the EEOC confirms that employers may adopt English-only rules under certain circumstances, insofar as it is adopted for nondiscriminatory reasons (e.g., safety, business necessity) and not to discriminate on the basis of national origin. Continue reading

This “invasion of privacy” question is the lynchpin of a new lawsuit from two former employees of one of the largest beer companies in the world. The complaint (available here), which began in state court, has been removed to federal court in New Jersey.

David Gialanella, reporting for the New Jersey Law Journal (full article here), summarizes the facts of the case:

A year ago, five company employees, including Nascimento and Yule, exchanged a series of text messages, apparently disparaging fellow employee Alex Davis. The messages were transmitted using their personal mobile phones, and on their own time, but Nascimento’s personal phone was linked to his company iPad through the iMessaging application, causing the messages to be stored on the iPad, according to the complaint.

Afterward, Nascimento was issued a new iPad, while the old one—with his text messages and credit card information still stored on it—was loaned to Davis. Davis discovered the text messages and complained, after which Nascimento, Yule and the others were questioned by investigators hired by Anheuser-Busch, according to the complaint.

Nascimento, Yule and a third employee involved in the messaging were terminated last September for “‘violation of corporate policy regarding use of company equipment,’” while a fourth was reprimanded, according to the complaint.

Continue reading

I’ve gotta hand it to the company in this recent federal appellate court opinion. The company almost — soooooo close — avoided several claims for unpaid overtime.

Let me set the stage for you. So, there I was wearing nothing but feathers and a coy smile. Back in 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor began investigating a complaint that a marketing company had misclassified some employees and failed to pay overtime. During the DOL investigation, the company sent the employees checks for back wages. Each check bore the following note in fine print:

“full payment from Actinlink [sic] or [sic] wages earned, including minimum wage and overtime, up to the date of the check.”

A bunch of employees deposited these checks. So, the marketing company claimed that, voila, those employees had agreed to waive their right to any additional back pay. Continue reading

Got a busted bracket in your HR Department’s NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket pool?

Oh, riiiiiiiiiight. What bracket pool? I must be talking about that other company, the one with low-flow poop-stained toilets and the non-conforming employee handbook. #realtalk

Well, according to this CareerBuilder.com survey, 1 in 7 US workers planned to fill out a bracket in an NCAA Tourney office pool. Most likely to participate would be the folks in IT (40%), with senior management 50% more likely to participate than entry-level employees. Continue reading

Before I get to a 1752-word blog post about the National Labor Relations Board going wee-wee all over your workplace Cheerios with this March 18 report from General Counsel Griffin, replete with examples of how your employee handbook is overly broad and violates the National Labor Relations Act, let me do two things:

  1. Shout out to employment lawyer and blogger Robin Shea and her fantastic job with the April Fools Edition of the Employment Law Blog Carnival. Word!
  2. The follow-up podcast I recorded with Casey Sipe and Jessica Miller-Merrell from Blogging4Jobs.com on the FMLA/ADA/WC questions we couldn’t get to during out hour-long webinar is now available. Email me if you’d like a copy.

So, about that report… Continue reading

Well, I think we can all agree that, when an employee’s protected class motivates a company to transfer him to a less desirable position, it’s time to call the lawyers and break out the checkbook.

But, what makes a transfer position less desirable?

Yesterday, I was reading this Sixth Circuit opinion about a hospital employee, who was undoubtedly suffering from a “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, for several years, despite what the court described as “significant cognitive and physical impairments,” this plaintiff performed well as a housekeeper. Eventually, however, the hospital transferred the plaintiff to a different housekeeping role, one which he had trouble performing. Indeed, it was his poor performance in this new position that led the hospital to terminate his employment. Continue reading

And the Czech judge scored my lede a 4.3. Well, the second she starts paying my legal bills, maybe, I’ll give a damn. Until then…

What was I talking about? Oh yes, religious discrimination.

Over the weekend, I read this PA federal court opinion about an atheist who claimed that his boss proselytized to him about religion, even forcing him to wear a badge, which bore the company’s mission statement: “This company is not only a business, it is a ministry. It is set on standards that are higher than man’s own. Our goal is to run this company in a way most pleasing to the lord [sic]….”  The atheist claims that he covered up the mission statement with duct tape and, when he refused to remove the tape, the company fired him.

The Court, which initially put the kibosh on the plaintiff’s religious bias, reconsidered and allowed the plaintiff’s claims to survive a motion to dismiss. Continue reading