Posts tagged as:

workplace

The HR maxim “Hire slow, fire fast” takes deeper root as the law provides more and more handles for the disgruntled employee to litigate. I explain why at Cato at Liberty.

  • Litigious anti-feminist loses case alleging that Manhattan club’s expensive bottle service for old men, free drinks for young women violate bias law [NY Mag, NYDN]
  • “Hospital cannot ban all service animals from psych ward, federal judge rules” [ABA Journal] “New Yorkers use bogus ‘therapy dog’ tags to take Fido everywhere” [NY Post via Althouse]
  • Canada: foes seek to prevent opening of evangelical law school in B.C. [CBC, Jonathan Kay/National Post, Globe and Mail editorial, TaxProf]
  • Related: broad religious exemptions in anti-bias law make good complement to same-sex marriage [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, my take] Gay couples must also live and let live, or else liberty is in for some cake wrecks [Bart Hinkle, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
  • Hiring based on IQ testing: widely regarded as legally suspect, but mostly tolerated in practice? [Bryan Caplan]
  • “‘Borgata Babes’ lose weight bias suit; judge says casino policy was legal” [ABA Journal, earlier]
  • 2009 expansion of federal hate-crimes law headed for a court challenge? [Josh Gerstein, Politico]

In many cases, I’m sympathetic when government defendants who get sued ask for their legal costs to be covered. Among other reasons: 1) claims against individual supervisors are regularly advanced tactically in cases that really arise from discontent aimed at the government as employer; and 2) the in terrorem effect of individual liability can otherwise create pressure for pre-emptive settlement. Does it make a difference when the alleged misconduct serves the purpose of personal gratification for the boss rather than advancing the interests of the government employer? Or — in the case of San Diego’s mayor — that his bad behavior toward women has apparently been an open secret in the city’s political circles for years? [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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I’ve got a new post up at Cato at Liberty on three important decisions for the business community decided today at the Supreme Court, two on employment law and one on pharmaceutical pre-emption: Vance v. Ball State on liability for supervisorial harassment, University of Texas Southwestern v. Nassar on mixed-motive retaliation, and Mutual v. Bartlett (more) on design default preemption for a generic drug. (& welcome Coyote, Point of Law, SCOTUSBlog, Taegan Goddard/WonkWire readers)

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“A pot-smoking city [of Ottawa] worker couldn’t convince a court that his reefer madness was a disability. …[Claude] Lavoie tried to claim his penchant for pot qualified as a disability, which would have obliged the city to accommodate him under provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code.” [Ottawa Sun]

Asking existing employees about their family medical history might offer safety benefits in the workplace, both by indicating vulnerabilities that might be countered by protective measures, and by helping to distinguish ailments with a strong congenital influence from those that might signal occupational disease. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that such questioning is “genetic discrimination” and unlawful under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which became law in 2009. Fabricut, a decorative fabrics firm, will pay $50,000 to settle charges that it improperly asked about family medical history and also that it improperly engaged in disability discrimination by refusing to employ as a clerk a woman it regarded as having carpal tunnel syndrome. [EEOC press release]

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Two years ago the city of Portland, Ore. became the first to adopt a voluntary policy against fragrance use in city offices. (A similar Detroit measure had been taken in response to a lawsuit.) Now Julee Reynolds, a city worker who says she suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), has sued Portland for allegedly not doing enough to enforce the policy. [KOIN; earlier here, here, etc.]

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Sometimes, when food choices are not involved, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is actually on the right side of controversies. One instance of that is the series of battles he’s having with the New York City Council on various bills to regulate employers. The Council recently overrode his veto of a bill creating unemployment status as a new protected class, and has pressed a paid-sick-leave bill as well. A third proposal: forbidding employers to consider job applicants’ credit records in hiring. Eight liberal-leaning states have already enacted similar measures but as the Proskauer Rose law firm explains, the NYC proposal goes further:

Unlike the vast majority of laws in effect and in legislation pending across the nation, however, the Proposal does not explicitly enumerate exceptions for managerial positions, or positions with access to bank or credit card information, Social Security numbers, significant amounts of cash, or confidential or proprietary information. Although the Proposal exempts employers required by law to run credit checks on their applicants and employees, its silence as to these other standard exceptions should give New York City employers particular pause should the Proposal become law.

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Some eye sleep patterns as the next frontier for government intervention in the name of public health. [Cohen, Prawfsblawg]

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National Public Radio is the latest news organization to take note of a very unwelcome, and presumably unforeseen, effect of ObamaCare that has already been covered extensively on the blogs.

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A new book and a “60 Minutes” report have brought back into the news the case of the killer nurse who murdered at least dozens of patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with drug overdoses and may have killed many more. There’s plenty of blame to go around among hospitals and others, but readers of this site will recall reason Cullen’s career went on so long: “When hospitals checked Cullen’s resume and previous jobs, they were given positive or neutral reports by his former employers, who feared getting sued if they provided a negative one.” [Asbury Park Press] Earlier here, here, etc.

  • For most private-sector employers it’s illegal to let workers take comp time off in lieu of overtime; H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, would fix that [Hyman]
  • Christine Quinn take note: laws requiring paid sick leave do not constitute social progress [Richard Epstein]
  • Occupational hazards of bagpipe playing (other than being chased out of your neighborhood) [Donald McNeil Jr., New York Times]
  • “Phoenix ‘Not Looking for Strong Swimmers’ for Lifeguard Jobs” [David Bernstein; earlier on discrimination against deaf lifeguards]
  • Decline of full-time work in retail sector in response to ObamaCare: year’s biggest employment story? [Warren Meyer, FoxNews (largest movie theater chain cuts hours for thousands of employees)]
  • City of Philadelphia not doing well on workers’ comp program, to say the least [Workers' Compensation Institute]
  • “New labor rule will violate attorney-client privilege” [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, D.C. Examiner]
  • “Calling a Co-Worker ‘Stupid’ Not Enough to Prove ‘Disability’, Court Says” [Daniel Schwartz]

A survey promoted by the U.S. Department of Labor makes that curious claim, but Jon Hyman’s readers beg to differ [Ohio Employer Law]

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Labor and employment roundup

by Walter Olson on February 12, 2013

  • “Lying to Doctors for Fitness for Duty Exam Can Still Get You Fired …But Only If You’re a Police Officer” [Connecticut cop smashed into two cars during epileptic seizure; Daniel Schwartz]
  • “Emotional labor”: is having to be cheerful to customers a form of capitalist slavery? [Tim Noah v. Andrew Sullivan]
  • CalPERS: “The pension fund that ate California” [Steve Malanga, City Journal]
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), other “worker centers” on the rise: “Will ‘alt-labor’ replace unions?” [Salon; critical anti-ROC site via Matt Patterson/CEI]
  • Without benefit of an act of Congress, EEOC is interpreting the law to prohibit transgender bias [Workplace Prof]
  • “The Nation: Government-Mandated Lunch Breaks are Somehow Libertarians’ Fault” [Shackford, Reason]
  • Historian challenges received account of Haymarket Affair [Ron Radosh]

A new Oregon law forbids employers “to advertise a job opening if they won’t consider applicants who are unemployed.” [CNBC] Earlier on efforts to make jobless persons into a new protected class under discrimination laws here, here, etc.

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Disabled rights roundup

by Walter Olson on December 18, 2012

  • More reactions, besides mine, to Senate’s non-ratification of U.N. disabled-rights treaty [Hans Bader, NYT Room for Debate including notably David Kopel's, Julian Ku ("Support Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Because It Doesn’t Do Anything!"), Tyler Cowen (keep powder dry for bigger ratification battles), Peter Spiro (proposes end run around Senate)] More, Sept. 2013: Eric Voeten, Monkey Cage and more (dismissing as insignificant U.N. committee reports criticizing countries for alleged violations because “these reports can be and often are ignored,” and accusing treaty critics of being mere “conservative fantasists” because they take at their word their counterpart “liberal fantasists” who expect and welcome erosion of U.S. autonomy in domestic policy.)
  • As Department of Justice rolls out Olmstead settlements to more states, battles continue between disabled rights advocates seeking closure of large congregate facilities and family members who fear mentally disabled loved ones will fare worse in “community” settings [Philadelphia City Paper via Bagenstos, NYT on Georgia, earlier, more background] More, Sept. 2013: And here’s someone claiming that I’ve got it all wrong, Olmstead has already pre-settled whatever claims to a right-to-care might reasonably be asserted under CRPD. I don’t think so.
  • “Utilityman can’t climb utility poles, but has ADA claim against utility company” [Eric Meyer]
  • Kozinski: Disney “obviously mistaken” in arguing against use of Segway by disabled visitors [Sam Bagenstos; related, Walt Disney World, Eleventh Circuit]
  • Wendy’s franchisee agrees to pay $41,500 in EEOC settlement after turning away hearing-impaired cook applicant [EEOC]
  • California enacts compromise bill aimed at curtailing ADA filing mills [Sacramento Bee, LNL]
  • “Train your managers and supervisors never to discuss employees’ medical issues.” [Jon Hyman]

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A former Bethlehem, Pa. city employee who “was charged with and ultimately pled guilty to harassment” after persistently bothering an ex-girlfriend co-worker has lost his wrongful-termination suit against the city, with the Third Circuit upholding its dismissal on summary judgment. [Eric B. Meyer]

I joined Bay Area public radio host Marty Nemko (KALW) on Sunday for a discussion of the pluses and minuses of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specifically as it applies to the workplace. I focused on the minuses, while disability rights attorney Claudia Center emphasized the pluses. You can listen here.

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