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Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

Ignorance and Inconsistency: The Two-Step Path to Court


Nobody ever said complying with federal employment laws would be easy or inexpensive. It also isn’t optional. As this case shows, ignoring your legal obligations—or trying to find creative ways around them—can be even more costly. And allowing one person to make arbitrary decisions about who gets leave and who doesn’t is never a good idea …

Here’s more proof that FMLA rules are clear as mud

One definition of a “serious health condition” that would qualify an employee for FMLA leave is “any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay) in a hospital.” But what counts as an overnight stay?

Bad worker meets bad documentation: Who wins in court?

As the following case shows, if you plan to fire an employee for misconduct and insubordination, a court won’t look kindly on that gaping hole in the employee’s personnel file.

Solving the transgender bathroom dilemma

As more people are identifying themselves as transgender, the issue of which restroom they should use in the workplace has become controversial and confusing. Until now.

Hidden disabilities: What’s your duty to accommodate?

While the Americans with Disabilities Act says you must offer a “reasonable accommodation” to disabled employees, how obvious must the person’s disability be before you fall under that requirement? And what is the employee’s duty to alert you and request the accommodation? As this case shows, courts don’t expect you to play a guessing game with your staff. Employees have a responsibility to explain their conditions and request an accommodation.

The wrong manager was told of harassment–are you still considered ‘on notice’?

As this case shows, it’s important that employees voice their complaints to the correct supervisor cited in a harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy. Otherwise, the employee’s whole case could unravel.

Beware handing out discipline so soon after FMLA request


When it comes to the FMLA, courts always pull out their stopwatches and calendars to see how closely the employee’s protected activity (requesting or taking FMLA leave) coincides with the adverse action (discipline or firing). As this case shows, the smaller the time, the bigger your risk of liability.

Third-party harassment: Is the customer always right?


There is only one boss: The customer. But what if the customer or another outsider is harassing employees at your workplace? Can your organization be held liable? As this court ruling shows, adopting a “hear no evil, see no evil” strategy is not the smartest move.

Can you refuse leave for nonreligious church events?

During Christmas and Hanuk­­kah, some of your employees may have requested time off to attend religious services—as federal law allows them to do. But what if an employee wanted to go to church not for a religious service, but for a holiday sing-along or some other church event. Can you legally say “no”—or would that be considered discrimination?

Job announcements: Can more details = fewer lawsuits?


Many employers provide skimpy details on their websites about job openings. The legal problem: Less information can lead to a higher number of unqualified applicants. And when applicants have to speculate at the reasons they’ve been rejected, they’re more likely to sue.