Common Sense IS NOT Very Common!

FMLA, ADA, PDA Employment Laws, Lawsuits
Elga Lejarza-Penn

Would you fire a woman that was 5 months pregnant only because she was pregnant? Would you terminate older workers and replace them with younger ones because it is time for them to “rest”? Well, some companies are making these kinds of decisions and think it is OK!

Employment discrimination lawsuits continue to climb and it is well past time that we reverse this trend!

From looking at the number of cases either filed or resolved by the EEOC so far in the month of September 2019, forty-five to be exact, it seems like instead of organizations improving in this area they are heading in the wrong direction.

If you would like to learn more about FMLA and ADA and earn continuing education credits towards your SHRM or HRCI certification please join me at one of my upcoming 2-Day FMLA, ADA and PDA Certificate Programs.

If you would like to learn more about our other certificate programs and earn continuing education credits towards your SHRM or HRCI certification please join me at any one of my upcoming Certificate Program Trainings.

If you would like to learn more about our SHRM-CP®, SHRM-SCP®, aPHR™, PHR®, SPHR® Exam Prep Courses and Boot Camps please check out our upcoming Exam Prep Trainings and check out our Student Testimonials and Success Stories.

According to the EEOC’s suit, a 57-year-old employee arrived to work for her regularly scheduled shift as Cook Manager at a Supermarket and discovered the store had hired her replacement, someone approximately twenty years younger than she. When she was terminated, the general manager commented, “Look old lady, we have to give opportunities to new people, old lady . . . it is time for you to rest.

A supplier of direct professional caregivers to clients with disabilities has agreed to pay $200,000 and furnish injunctive relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, since at least 2010, this organization had required its female employees to sign a pregnancy policy during orientation. The policy provided that their employment terminated at the fifth month of pregnancy. The EEOC further alleged that the organization enforced its policy against the charging party and several other women by terminating them due to their pregnancy, despite their ability to effectively perform their job duties.

A home decor company violated federal law when it forced a worker with a disability to take unpaid leave, despite her ability and willingness to work, and then fired her for exercising the very leave it forced her to take. According to the suit, the employee put the employer on notice that she had a medical condition that was likely to require surgery in the coming month, but that her doctor had released her to work until her surgery. In response, the company informed the employee that she was being placed on unpaid leave until her surgery because the company said it was afraid it would be liable if anything happened to the employee while working. Although the employee kept the company updated with details about her surgery, the company didn’t contact her again until three weeks later when it sent her a letter stating she was being fired for “excessive absences”.

Organizations with 15 or more employees need to comply with Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the American with Disabilities Act, (ADA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) among others. Organizations can not discriminate and need to provide reasonable accommodations as long as doing so, won’t cause undue hardship to the organization. Organizations are required to engage in the interactive process, which is simply having a formal, documented conversation with the employee to determine what are the obstacles, the barriers preventing them from performing the essential functions of the job. We then remove the barriers by providing a reasonable, effective accommodation.

Complying with the law is not difficult, we simply need to have an accommodation mindset. If we would be talking about providing reasonable accommodation to a family member or a friend, we would definitely find the right solution instead of saying we can’t. It is about doing the right things in a legal, moral and ethical manner.

I know it is simple, I worked for eleven years with close to four hundred individuals with disabilities on a daily basis. It’s common sense…..however, when I read the cases being filed and resolved by the EEOC, I have nothing to say but… “Common sense is not very common”.

Elga Lejarza-Penn, aPHR, PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP

If you would like to learn more about FMLA and ADA and earn continuing education credits towards your SHRM or HRCI certification please join me at one of my upcoming 2-Day FMLA, ADA and PDA Certificate Programs.

If you would like to learn more about our other certificate programs and earn continuing education credits towards your SHRM or HRCI certification please join me at any one of my upcoming Certificate Program Trainings.

If you would like to learn more about our SHRM-CP®, SHRM-SCP®, aPHR™, PHR®, SPHR® Exam Prep Courses and Boot Camps please check out our upcoming Exam Prep Trainings and check out our Student Testimonials and Success Stories.

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