Dealing with mental disabilities in the workplace

by Jonathan Mook

These days, the news is filled with stories of returning veterans who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental impairments and have problems adjusting to civilian life at home and in the workplace. The issues employers face when dealing with veterans and other employees with mental disorders were put on display by a Virginia case in which an Army veteran who suffers from PTSD sued his employer after he was fired for threatening to harm or kill other employees. The court’s decision provides helpful lessons about handling employees with mental disorders, especially when employees have legal protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)PTSD word cloud with abstract background


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Policing the profiler: Ageist stereotypes exposed

by Robert Kaiser

There is a common belief in the marketplace that it’s harder to find a job if you are over 50. However, it’s difficult to establish whether that’s true, and there are many advantages to hiring a mature employee. But a recent case decided by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota employers) highlights that certain stereotypes about older workers may persist.  Dont be ageist

Hiring process looks a little shady

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Categories: Legal News


Managing an injured employee

by Al Vreeland

Few things create more headaches in the HR suite than an employee who is injured on the job and then resists returning to work. HR’s headaches are usually centered at the intersection of state workers’ compensation laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A federal judge in Birmingham dispensed a little relief for one employer’s headache, finding it had done all it could to help an injured employee return to workor at least all it was required to do.  Help! I Fell at Work

The basics

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Interactions with Asperger’s: Discrimination, wrongful discharge claims go to trial

Soon after an employee provided his employer with information about his Asperger’s syndrome, it informed him that his contract wouldn’t be renewed because “Your Asperger’s got in the way of your ability to interact with your boss, and we are tired of it.” Afterward, the employee brought claims of wrongful termination and discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The employer attempted to persuade the court that even if all the evidence he presented was true, the employee would still be unable to prevail at trial. Let’s see how things turned out.  You Are Fired


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Nonreligious observance may require religious accommodation

by Maggie LeBato and H. Mark Adams

Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because of their religion. The courts have further ruled that the prohibition against religious discrimination requires you to accommodate your employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs unless it would cause undue hardship to your business. You might assume, then, that for an employee to prove religious discrimination, she would have to demonstrate both the sincerity of her belief and that the belief is actually “religious” in nature. According to a recent decision from the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, however, that isn’t necessarily the case. Church

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Supreme Court rules against Abercrombie & Fitch in headscarf lawsuit

by Charles S. Plumb

On Monday, June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and against Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc. in a religious discrimination lawsuit involving a Muslim job applicant at its Tulsa store. In some ways, the Supreme Court’s decision may have the unintended result of causing some employers to ask applicants and employees about their religious beliefs or trigger unfortunate workplace stereotyping.  middle eastern college girl

Religious discrimination

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Adverse employment action because of accent is illegal

by Joseph Cooper

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination on the basis of national origin in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, and job assignments. Because an employee’s accent or language skills are often associated with her national origin, employment decisions based on those characteristics are scrutinized closely by courts and administrative tribunals. A recent decision from the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (RICHR) illustrates that point.  Time for a conversation

Teacher wants to take English classes

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Anatomy of an employment lawsuit: best HR practices to help you win

by Michael J. Modl

Imagine you employ Rajesh Tank, an employee of Indian descent, as a regional VP. Other employees report that Tank engaged in unprofessional conduct that hurt team morale, showed favoritism toward certain employees, and pressured employees to hire a particular contractor. You investigate the allegations, find some truth to them, order Tank to terminate the contractor, and place him on a corrective action coaching plan.  scales of justice

Tank then reports inappropriate racial workplace comments and objects to the level of discipline meted out to the employee who made the comments. He engages in unprofessional conduct after being placed on the corrective plan, and despite your request that he terminate the contractor, he doesn’t. He also raises concerns that he is being discriminated against in the workplace. As a result of coworkers’ complaints about him, you conduct a second investigation and conclude that discharge is the appropriate course of action.

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‘Microaggression’: a new form of discrimination?

by Ryann E. Ricchio

Discussions about “microaggression” have become more common in the mainstream media. A simple Google search reveals college websites documenting students’ recently experienced microaggressions and articles analyzing microaggression from major media sources, including National Public Radio and the New York Times. This article provides the definition of microaggression, examines a recent case from a federal court that likely involved microaggression (although the conduct wasn’t described using that particular label), and provides a bottom line for employers.  Boss with employee

What is microaggression?

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Tribal hiring preference not national origin discrimination

by Nancy Williams

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows employers on or near an Indian reservation to give preferential treatment to Indians living in the vicinity. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that this provision doesn’t permit preference for members of a particular tribe. In the continuing saga of a case that has dragged on for years, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal (whose rulings apply to all Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington employers) recently issued its third decision, finally ruling against the EEOC.  The Right Candidate

Coal company leases have Navajo hiring preference

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