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Think twice before setting ‘English-only’ rule; courts view complaints as protected activity

Don’t try to prevent employees from speaking languages other than Eng­lish at work, especially when they’re chatting among themselves. Unless you have a good business reason for banning other languages, courts will likely see the practice as discriminatory.

Voodoo a religion? Texas HHS about to find out

A former employee of the Texas Health and Human Services Com­mis­sion has accused the state agency of retaliation and discrimination on the basis of her religion—voodoo.

Consider additional leave as ADA accommodation

According to the EEOC, leave may be a reasonable accommodation. If you fire disabled employees without at least considering time off as an accommodation, you might be sued.

Good faith wins court cases! Don’t use investigation to trap employee


Employers get lots of leeway when it comes to terminating employees. For example, courts generally uphold firing someone for breaking a rule as long as the employer reasonably believed the employee broke the rule—even if it turns out he did not. But when it looks as if the employer tried to trick the employee into breaking a rule, judges won’t look the other way.

No self-defamation claim possible in North Carolina

A former employee at a North Carolina Walmart has lost a novel claim that could have opened the litigation floodgates in North Carolina and destroyed the at-will employment concept. He sued, alleging he had been forced to reveal why he had been fired, which in effect amounted to self-defamation.

Remember: Discord isn’t always retaliation


You can’t retaliate against employees who complain about alleged discrimination in the workplace. But what’s retaliation? Tense working conditions don’t always fit that bill. There can be many explanations for rising tensions that have nothing to do with a discrimination complaint.

NLRB: Firing for unprofessional tweet is legal

An Arizona newspaper fired a crime reporter after he posted a series of unprofessional tweets on his work-related Twit­­­­ter account. The reporter complained to the National Labor Relations Board, but the NLRB dismissed it.

Tread carefully with pregnant underperformer


Performance improvement plans (PIPs) can help turn around subpar employees. But if you use PIPs, make sure you implement them equitably. For example, if you place a sales­person on a PIP to raise falling sales, then institute a PIP for everyone whose sales have fallen to the same level. That’s especially important if one of the employees is about to take FMLA leave or is pregnant.

Is Brooklyn Botanical Gardens fertile ground for bias?

The former head of security at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens has filed a lawsuit claiming the institution discriminates against blacks, and that he was fired in part because of his age.

Employee cites mental distress? Ask for mental exam

Employees who sue but can’t show they suffered any monetary damages sometimes claim mental distress instead. Fortunately, courts don’t just take their word it, especially if the employee claims she had to undergo psychiatric treatment.