The liability to private-sector employers for the conduct of their supervisors is always an important issue in our world. Well, it’s no different in the public sector, either, which is why the recent decision of the Ohio Supreme Court in Hauser v. Dayton Police Department is noteworthy.
On Thursday, June 26, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in NLRB v. Noel Canning, a case where a soda bottler and distributor challenged an NLRB enforcement Order and claimed that the Board did not have a requisite quorum of members to issue the Order because three of its members, at the time, had been unconstitutionally appointed. After the District of Columbia Circuit Court sided with Noel Canning, the Supreme Court affirmed, and ruled on the Board’s appeal that the three recess appointments President Obama made to the NLRB in January 2012 were indeed unconstitutional.
Last year in this forum, we wrote about how a federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan concluded that working from home was not a reasonable accommodation for a Ford employee who had irritable bowel syndrome. Specifically, that court determined that telecommuting was not a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act for the employee because attendance at work was an essential function of her job. Well, that case was appealed, and in a recent ruling employers everywhere should know about, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals gave employers a lot of food for thought about whether telecommuting can be a reasonable accommodation, what essential job functions truly are, and whether the workplace must be at the employer’s physical place of business.
Joint employment is not a concept that every employer is familiar with, probably because it most commonly arises in the contractor setting. Generally speaking, when joint employment is found, it serves to impute liability on a general contractor for the actions of an employee of a subcontractor, based on the idea that the general contractor has sufficient control over the work done by the subcontractor employees. As you can probably tell, the definition alone suggests there’s a lot of gray area, so it’s not always clear who qualifies as a joint employer. A recent case decided by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals – which covers Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan – is a good refresher on this issue, particularly since it arose in the context of who may be liable for discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
With the holidays fast approaching, employers and employees alike are beginning to look forward to company holiday parties. However, it’s no secret that these parties can be a double-edged sword for employers. They are a great way to boost employee morale, but poor planning can expose employers to sexual harassment complaints and social host liability lawsuits. Whether your party is a casual lunch in the office or a cocktail party at a favorite local venue, thoughtful planning will help ensure a safe, enjoyable, and hopefully liability-free event. Here are a few easy ways to reduce the risk for your organization:
Often, Plaintiffs who lose their jobs and decide to pursue legal action take the position that their discharge violated some public policy in their state. Occasionally, these claims can get quite creative.
Recently, a production technician at an employer in Ohio brought a wrongful termination claim in state court there alleging his employer violated Ohio’s public policy on restroom use. Specifically, the Plaintiff claimed his termination violated the public policy requiring employers to allow employees to use the restroom subject to reasonable restrictions. While this position seems sympathetic, a closer examination of the allegations in the case reveals that his lawsuit was probably doomed from the start.
Employers who have yet to put the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (“GINA”) on their radar should probably re-consider their priorities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is already at the point where the agency isn’t just bringing suits to enforce violations of that law, it is now settling them.