Category: Retaliation

As States Reopen, Can Employees Refuse to Return to Work Based on Fear of Exposure to COVID-19?

As States Reopen, Can Employees Refuse to Return to Work Based on Fear of Exposure to COVID-19?

As many states progress through different phases of reopening, companies are preparing for their employees to return to work. Employers are also noting, however, that some states are seeing COVID-19 cases surge.  This has generated some concerns from employees who do not want to return to the work place. Can employers require employees to return to work if the employees...

It May Be A New World For Sexual Harassment, But Many Old Rules Still Apply

It May Be A New World For Sexual Harassment, But Many Old Rules Still Apply

In the weeks since allegations began to surface regarding the sexually predatory behavior of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment allegations (sometimes admitted and sometimes disputed) against powerful, prominent men have been a daily feature of the headlines, involving Oscar-winning actors, sitting and would-be senators, talk show hosts, and numerous other high profile figures. Allegations against the both the current...

Don’t Make a Habit of it, but Sometimes, Ignorance IS Bliss

Don’t Make a Habit of it, but Sometimes, Ignorance IS Bliss

As a general rule, of course, Human Resources Departments and company management want to be – and should be – well-informed about issues in the workplace, including employees unhappy enough to have raised claims of discrimination or harassment. If key people at the company are unaware of such complaints, the employer might leave itself open to charges of sloppiness, indifference,...

For Any Lawful Reason:  Firing an at-will employee under dubious circumstances need not lead to liability if the reason for the firing was not illegal

For Any Lawful Reason: Firing an at-will employee under dubious circumstances need not lead to liability if the reason for the firing was not illegal

A recent decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals highlights the distinction between firing an employee for personal or politically expedient reasons (which may be entirely legal) and firing an employee because of his or her protected status or for exercising protected rights (which is typically illegal). The decisive question answered in this case was can an employer terminate...

Second Circuit Holds Pro-Union Sentiment Outweighs Impropriety of Profanity-Laden Rant Against Supervisor, His Mother, and “His Entire ****ing Family”

Second Circuit Holds Pro-Union Sentiment Outweighs Impropriety of Profanity-Laden Rant Against Supervisor, His Mother, and “His Entire ****ing Family”

Use of profanity by employees, whether in the workplace, outside the workplace, or on social media, presents difficult legal issues for the employer, as highlighted by a recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning the firing of an employee who engaged in a highly profane Facebook rant against a supervisor. Although an employer has a justifiable interest in keeping...

OSHA Weighs in on Retaliation and Drug Testing

OSHA Weighs in on Retaliation and Drug Testing

QUESTION: We conduct drug testing whenever an employee is injured at work or in involved in an accident. I recently read that this may violate OSHA’s anti-retaliation rule. How can that be? I would think OSHA would want employers to drug test to keep workplaces drug-free and safe.

Quirky Question #284: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, can you still unlawfully retaliate against it?

Quirky Question #284: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, can you still unlawfully retaliate against it?

Question: One of our male supervisors wants to fire a female employee who complained that he was sexually harassing her. The harassment allegations appear to have some substance: he asked her for pictures of herself in a bikini; told her to “stay off [her] knees,” which she viewed as sexual innuendo; and told her that her regulation length shorts were...

Quirky Question #257, Food for thought – whistleblowing claims against agricultural companies

Question: My company manufactures food products and is thus regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Last month, we terminated an employee because of his chronic poor performance. I just learned that the day before he was terminated, the employee told his supervisor that he believed our company was not complying with the FDA’s nutrition label requirements. Are we...

Quirky Question #251, Naming Names in SEC Filings?

Quirky Question #251, Naming Names in SEC Filings?

Question: Our publicly traded company must file a disclosure with the SEC, and we’re trying to determine what information to include regarding recent charges of discrimination that former employees have filed with the EEOC.  Should we include their names and details of their claims?

Quirky Question # 238, No Laughing Matter – Company Found Liable for Wrongfully Terminating Independent Contractor’s Agreement

Quirky Question # 238, No Laughing Matter – Company Found Liable for Wrongfully Terminating Independent Contractor’s Agreement

Question: My company relies on independent contractors, over whom we don’t exert control. They often joke around with each other. I’m not liable for employment discrimination if I terminate one of them after they complain about another, right?