November 2017 Newsletter

In early October, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a “multimonth leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In doing so, the court rejected longstanding guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a long-term medical leave is a reasonable accommodation when the leave is (1) definite and time-limited (...
It’s not always the employee’s fault when things go bad for an employer. Sometimes the employer has no one to blame but itself. Here are six of the most common ways employers sink their own ships. No. 1: Pointless workplace rules that just make employees mad. I can’t take credit for this one — I got the idea from this article that recently appeared in Forbes. I don’t agree with the author 100 percent, but I adamantly agree...
An employee grabs a co-worker’s penis and pokes another employee with a banana protruding from the zipper of his pants. Should the employer be liable for sexual harassment? Well, it depends. An employer’s liability for harassment often hinges on whether the harasser is a “supervisor.” If the harasser is the victim’s co-worker, an employer is liable only if it was negligent responding to the harassment. If, however, the...
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Bill O’Reilly paid $32 million to settle a claim of sexual harassment brought against him by a former co-worker. On Monday, in an interview with the New York Times, O’Reilly let his accusers have it: It’s horrible what I went through, horrible what my family went through. This is crap. It’s politically and financially motivated. We can prove it with shocking information. We have...
According to a recent survey, 57% of American employees admit to swearing at work. (To me, that seems low. Also, count me in the “yes” column.) Where is the line between swearing as harmless workplace banter and swearing as harmful unlawful harassment? Consider these two examples. In Passananti v. Cook County, the 7th Circuit overturned a $4.2 million jury verdict in favor an employee who claimed that her boss had subjected her to...
The FLSA draws a pretty clear line as to when breaks must be paid, and when they can be unpaid. If a break 20 minutes or less in duration, it must be paid. Any longer, and an employer can make it an unpaid break. What if, however, instead of providing employees paid breaks, an employer installs a system of flex time—the employer only pays employees for the time they are logged onto its system, which maximizes employees’ ability to take...