Saturday, September 30, 2023


Thursday night, we made the very difficult decision to let our beloved family member, Loula Mae, go.

It was one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make as a family.

She had too many not good things happening inside of her. After two days of testing the vet had no idea why her red blood cell levels kept dropping and not regenerating. There were also suspected cancer cell from a substantial mass that had suddenly formed under her armpit, which had quickly spread across her chest and down to her belly. The preliminary diagnosis was either cancer bleeding to her body causing the anemia, or the cancer triggering an autoimmune amenia.

Either way, all of the potentials were various degrees of awful. Thus, we made the painful decision to let her go instead of putting her through months of suffering with an uncertain outcome and only a small chance of her having any quality of life in the future.

Friday, September 29, 2023

WIRTW #689: the “134” edition

134. That's how many different available positions Costco offered to Monica Barnett over a nearly nine-month period in an effort to accommodate her knee and wrist injuries.

0. That's how many of the offered positions Monica Barnett applied for or requested placement.

1. That's the number of paragraphs it took the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the dismissal of Barnett's failure to reasonably accommodate claim. In the Court's words:

Barnett claims Costco refused to engage in good faith, "forced" her to remain on medical leave, and required her to be "100% healed" before returning to work. These assertions are unsupported by the record. The undisputed record demonstrates that Costco held three job assessment meetings, sent Barnett 134 available positions over more than eight months, and placed Barnett in an optical-assistant position that accommodated her limitations.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try as an employer to do right by an employee, the employee is going to sue. In those cases, all you hope is that you have your i's dotted and t's crossed, all of your contemporaneously made documentation is in order, and a judge or jury will see the case for what it is and find in your favor.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Employees shouldn’t have to choose between their religion and their job

Is there any legitimate reason a concierge must be clean shaven as a condition of employment? That question is at the center of a new lawsuit the EEOC filed against Blackwell Security Services.

The EEOC alleges that a Blackwell supervisor told a Muslim hiree that it was company policy that all employees be clean shaven. When the employee requested an exemption from the policy to accommodate his religious practice, Blackwell told him to shave his beard or be terminated. To avoid losing his job, the employee complied and shaved his beard. The EEOC charge and its lawsuit followed.

Monday, September 25, 2023

The two main reasons why employers shouldn’t retaliate

Social media giant TikTok is in some legal hot water for its alleged mistreatment of its employees. According to NPR, two Black employees allege that TikTok fired them after they complained to HR about racial discrimination within the company.

Friday, September 22, 2023

WIRTW #688: the “(not) Progressives” edition

Misgendering a transgender employee + forcing him to out himself to his coworkers + passing him over for a promotion + subjecting him to an unwanted office transfer + scrutinizing his medical appointments and other time off + ignoring his three HR complaints = a jury trial for Progressive Insurance on claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

According to the plaintiff, the first four years of his employment at Progressive were without incident, until he informed his supervisor of his intent to transition from female to male. That's when he alleges the mistreatment began, and continued for the final four years of his employment until he quit.

Transgender people are under attack. This lawsuit is a symptom of a much larger problem in workplaces across our country. Trans employees often experience discrimination, harassment, and a lack of understanding, including from their work colleagues and bosses. As an employer, it is important to create a safe and inclusive environment for all employees, including those who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. Otherwise, you just might find yourself at a receiving end of a well-deserved and difficult-to-defend lawsuit. Just ask Progressive Insurance.

The case is John Doe v. Progressive Ins., and you can find the court's summary judgment opinion here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Facebook Messenger and other alternative communication channels for attendance call-outs

An employee uses Facebook Messenger to notify his supervisor of a medical absence, ignoring the company's policy that requires employees to use a specific call-in line to notify their supervisor of a tardy or absence at least 30 minutes before their shift begins.

Are these absences FMLA-protected excused absences, or unexcused absences subject to termination?

In 2019, Kasey Roberts took six weeks of leave to undergo and recover from an emergency appendectomy, after notifying his supervisor via Facebook Messenger. A few days after returning, Roberts was hospitalized for a post-surgical infection. He again sent his supervisor several Facebook messages notifying of his absences.

After Roberts missed three more weeks of work, his employer fired him for job abandonment, claiming that all of his absences were unexcused since the call-in line, and not Facebook Messenger, was its "usual and customary" system for medical leave notice.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Let’s play FLSA error-spotting

Empire Diner pays its servers a tipped minimum wage of $2.83, the permissible tipped minimum wage in the state in which it's located, Pennsylvania. According to the company's payroll records, each employee earns more than the statutory minimum wage, $7.25 per hour.

So far, so good under the Fair Labor Standards Act. So where did Empire Diner make its FLSA mistakes, according to the 3rd Circuit?