Tag Archives: Case

Telling An Employee They Are Eligible For FMLA Leave May Mean They Are Eligible… Even If They Aren’t

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid leaves to employees who meet a set of eligibility standards.  These standards can be somewhat complex and, even though the FMLA has been around for over 20 years, employers still get make mistakes when determining eligibility.  The question then arises, what if your employer tells you that you are covered but then fires you when they later determine you are not actually eligible?  This exactly the scenario that arose in a recent federal appeals court decision.  See Tilley v. Kalamazoo County Road Commission, 777 F.3d 303 (6th Cir. 2015) (hat tip to the Employer Law Report for bringing this case to my attention).  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Family Medical Leave Act, Rights, Uncategorized

True or False: I cannot be disciplined any time I visit a healthcare provider?

Today’s post is all about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and trying to decide when a person qualifies for coverage.  As you may know from some of my previous coverage, the FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with your own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a family member (there are also some other issues covered).  If an individual takes FMLA protected leave they cannot be disciplined or terminated for that time off.  Therefore, it is crucial to understand when leave is covered.  Unfortunately, a recent case from Arkansas shows that if someone takes leave that is not covered, they can lose their job.  See Johnson v. Wheeling Mach. Prods., 779 F.3d 514 (8th Cir. Ark. 2015).  Hit the jump for all the details and the answer to the True/False question… Continue reading

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Discriminatory Behavior: Do PIPs and “Coaching Plans” Count?

Anyone familiar with educator employment has likely heard the terms PIP, PDP, or FIP before.  PIPs, short for Professional Improvement Plans, are generally the first attempt of an employer to change the behavior of an employee.  Understandably, many people find being placed on PIPs surprising and very stressful, this is particularly true when an individual has been with an employer for decades only to find themselves suddenly placed under a microscope.  Placement on a PIP can make an individual to feel targeted and harassed, which leads to the obvious question, can a PIP by itself be discriminatory?  A recent decision from a federal appellate court addresses just this issue.  See Perret v. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co., 770 F.3d 336 (5th Cir. 2014) (hat tip to the Laconic Law Blog for pointing this case out).  Hit the jump for the analysis… Continue reading

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Costco Sex Harassment Lawsuit May Have Lessons for Missouri Teachers

Almost exclusively, claims of sexual harassment are brought against coworkers or supervisors.  So what is an individual to do when the harasser falls outside of one of these two groups?  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently brought suit against Costco in just such a situation and the case may also provide guidance for teachers as well.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Discrimination, Uncategorized

Medical Information Addendum: The EEOC Weighs In

Just last week I posted an article discussing what sort of information an individual needs to give to their employer when they are suffering from a medical issue.  In that article, I noted that many employers request very broad releases, sometimes requesting access to any and all medical information on the employee.  Well this week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against a Minnesota company for this exact issue!  (hat tip to the Employer Handbook for pointing out the press release)  Hit the jump for the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Americans with Disabilities Act, Discrimination

Missouri Court Rules Discrimination Does Not Require A Specific, Discrete Adverse Employment Action

In Missouri, in order to make a claim for discriminatory harassment, the individual has to be able to show four things:

  1. The individual is a member of a protected class (race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or age);
  2. The individual suffered harassment related to their protected class;
  3. The harassment occurred because the individual belonged to the protected class; and
  4. A “term, condition, or privilege” of the individual’s employment was affected by the harassment.

The question faced in a recent Missouri appellate decision is whether the fourth requirement can be met even in a scenario where someone has not suffered from one specific act that caused economic harm. Fuchs v. Dept. of Revenue, WD77155 (Mo. App. W.D. Aug. 26, 2014).  Hit the jump for the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Discrimination, Missouri

Union Advocacy and Free Speech

I have written about the free speech rights of public employees a few times now but a recent case from a federal court in New York creates an important precedent for union members advocating on their coworkers’ behalf.  See Pekowsky v. Yonkers Bd. of Educ., No. 12 Civ. 4090 (S.D.N.Y. May 29, 2014).  Before getting into the details of Pekowsky, it’s important to understand the general landscape of public employee First Amendment rights.  The courts have taken several opportunities to limit general free speech rights in the somewhat unique scenario where the government is also an individual’s employer.  In order for a public employee’s speech to be protected under the First Amendment (and therefore protect them from any discipline for that speech), the speech must meet four tests:

  1. The employee must be speaking as a citizen and not pursuant to their official duties;
  2. The speech must be on a topic of public concern;
  3. The employee’s free speech interests must outweigh the employer’s interests; and
  4. The speech must be the motivating factor of an adverse employment action.

At issue in Pekowsky, was how these tests would apply to a union representative disciplined after advocating for his coworkers.  Hit the jump for more… Continue reading

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Filed under First Amendment, Uncategorized

Court Upholds $450,000 Age-Discrimination Claim Against Kansas City School District

In a decision that could have repercussions for districts across Missouri, a Missouri appellate court has upheld a jury decision against the Kansas City School District with damages totaling almost $450,000.  See Hurst v. Kansas City Mo. Sch. Dist., No. WD76534 (Mo. App. W.D. April 29, 2014).  The decision highlights methods that many districts are using to “creatively” cut workforce and circumstances where such methods break the law.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Discrimination, Missouri, Uncategorized

Missouri Court Rules Parents May Be Liable for Injury to Teacher Aide

Teachers and teacher aides dealing with violent students may feel there are few resources to correct the students’ behavior and protect themselves.  Administrators, tired of dealing with the same students repeatedly, will leave the classroom staff to fend for themselves and police and prosecutors are reluctant to press criminal charges against minors.  Additionally, school employees are often reluctant to protect themselves as that, almost unerringly, leads to a hotline report of child abuse or neglect.  This leaves many school employees facing a workplace where they can routinely expect to be punched, bit, scratched, and spit on.  However, a recent decision from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, may provide some remedy when the student’s parents have refused to take action to alleviate the situation.  See Ridgell v. McDermott, No. ED100402 (Mo. App. E.D. April 15, 2014).

Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Disability Accommodations – When is Attendance “Essential”??

When an individual is suffering from a disability, as defined in the American’s with Disabilities Act, their employer is required to work with them to find a reasonable accommodation that would allow them to complete all of the “essential duties” of their job.  If the individual cannot complete all of the essential duties then they could be terminated even though they have a disability.  Therefore, determining what qualifies as “essential” is a crucial step in the accommodation process.

While courts will generally look to a number of sources to determine what duties are essential to any given job (job descriptions, time sheets, etc.), there are some aspects of work that are nearly always considered to be essential.  Attendance at work is one of these aspects that courts will almost always accept as being “essential” without much further analysis.  However,  a recent decision from a federal court in Indiana shows that courts may be willing to analyze how essential attendance is on a case-by-case basis.  See E.E.O.C. v. AT&T Co., Case No. 1:12-cv-00402-TWP-DKL (S.D. Ind., Nov. 20, 2013).  This case could be useful for anyone whose disability affects their ability to routinely attend work. Continue reading

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Filed under Americans with Disabilities Act, Uncategorized