Nashville Legal Blog

Disability discrimination lawsuit against Home Depot

Tennessee workers who require reasonable accommodations from an employer to deal with a disability may be interested to learn that a lawsuit was filed on Sept. 28 against Home Depot for failing to offer such accommodation to an employee. According to the lawsuit, an employee who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia requested a short break to attend to her medical condition and was refused.

The case will be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. It has been brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the agency tried to reach a settlement but was unable to do so. The EEOC contends that the company fired the employee for minor infractions that only occurred because of its failure to offer reasonable accommodation in the first place.

Dealing with blatant and subtle signs of ageism

Employers in Tennessee and throughout the country could be engaging in ageism and not even realize it. It is also possible for older workers themselves to engage in this practice. However, treating employees differently based on their age could result in the loss of experienced employees who may be a wealth of knowledge to a company. While this may harm any company, the loss of talented workers can especially be harmful to smaller businesses.

One sign of ageism within a company is offering training opportunities to younger employees instead of older ones. Although an employer may assume that an older worker has the knowledge and experience necessary, it is never too late to learn a new skill. When scheduling corporate outings or other events, the activities planned should be suitable for workers of all ages. It may be considered ageism to engage in activities that may put older workers at a disadvantage.

Case will decide whether man was employee or contractor

Some Tennessee residents who work in what is known as the "gig economy" might actually be considered employees instead of independent contractors. In California, a lawsuit is underway in a federal court involving a man who was a driver for the company GrubHub for five months in 2015. The man says that as an employee, he was entitled to reimbursement for business expenses and overtime but that he was misclassified. GrubHub says that it simply connects drivers and customers with restaurants but is not an employer.

Examples the company used to demonstrate that the man was correctly classified as an independent contractor include that he could work when and how he wanted to. However, the man's attorney said that the company controlled access to work and that this was a sign of an employee. For example, drivers who completed deliveries quickly were able to get better time slots. The company also encouraged drivers to wear its branded clothing while working.

Is your employer refusing to accommodate your medical needs?

Maybe you had a disability when you were hired, or perhaps it developed over time. It could be the result of a progressive disease, like Multiple Sclerosis, or the end result of a serious accident. Sometimes, it could be a disease like cancer. Regardless of the cause or the nature of your disability, your employer is required by federal law to make reasonable accommodations for you. Failing to do so could prevent you from keeping your job and is in direct violation of the law.

Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. From loss of mobility to issues with hearing and eyesight, these medical issues can change your ability to work. However, many times, once you've acclimated to the condition, you can find a way to return to work. In order to do so, you need your employer to provide accommodations that make your job possible.

Can your employer legally ask you to work off the clock?

It happens in a variety of situations. You're an hourly employee, perhaps in retail or customer service. You're at the end of your shift when your manager approaches you. He or she then asks you to clock out and return to work. Sometimes, it's just end of shift cleanup.

Other times, it could be a special project, such as erecting a new display or doing inventory checks. You don't feel like you have a choice, so you do what your manager asked of you.

Legal aspects of workplace sexual harassment cases

Although laws have been passed to help reduce and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, some Tennessee workers still end up being harassed as they attempt to do their work. While about 90 percent of those facing sexual harassment are women, male employees can also be victims. Regardless of the employee's gender, there are some legal options available to those who face sexual harassment at work.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is banned in the workplace. Additionally, this law also says that, in some circumstances, employers can be considered liable for sexual harassment. For example, an employer could be held responsible if a supervisor harasses an employee and then later fires them.

Determining overtime eligibility in Tennessee

A Tennessee resident who makes less than $455 a week and who works in a non-exempt industry may be eligible to receive overtime pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that workers receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Tennessee state law mandates that employees get a minimum overtime wage of $10.88 per hour.

Several professionals are specifically covered by the FLSA such as police officers and first responders. Paramedics and firefighters are also covered by the legislation, and those who do manual labor for a living may also be eligible for overtime pay. Paralegals and practical nurses are generally covered as they may be subject to long hours. Without the ability to earn overtime pay, these professionals may be overworked or exploited by their employers.

Research suggests that racism remains a serious hiring issue

Tennessee residents may believe that racism in the workplace is not as prevalent today as it was in years past, but a review of 28 studies into the issue conducted over the last quarter century suggests that black and Latino job applicants in the United States continue to face widespread discrimination. The studies reviewed by researchers from Harvard and Northwestern Universities and the Institute of Social Research in Norway included data on more than 55,000 job seekers who had applied for more than 26,000 positions.

According to the study, black job applicants face virtually the same obstacles as they did 25 years ago, and the data suggests that things have only improved slightly for Latino candidates. The researchers found that white job seekers are still called back 36 percent more often than black applicants and 24 percent more frequently than Latinos, and taking factors such as gender, education and the state of local labor markets into account did not noticeably change the results.

DACA employees cannot be fired immediately

Some Tennessee businesses may find themselves affected by the coming end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. While some concern is understandable, it may be advisable for employers to remain cautious and avoid taking impulsive action against DACA recipients. The Center for American Progress estimates that as many as 700,000 people are currently active in the workforce under DACA permits.

Foreign nationals who are DACA recipients typically receive employment authorization cards to allow them to work in the United States. Although such employees are indeed required to provide documentation that they satisfy this requirement, they don't need to disclose whether they've benefited from DACA. While employers may be concerned about expiring work permits, it isn't permitted to conduct random employment eligibility checks on employees thought to be immigrants.

New report highlights issues related to sexual harassment

According to the United States Merit Systems Protection Board, fewer federal employees are reporting incidents of sexual harassment. However, Tennessee residents who work in federal jobs may still experience harassment, and around the country women are far more likely than men to be victims.

In the 2016 merit board study, 18 percent of women said that they had been sexually harassed at least once in the previous two years with 6 percent of men saying the same thing. That is down from 44 percent for women and 19 percent for men in a similar study conducted in 1994. Most who said that they experienced sexual harassment in the workplace indicated that their personal space had been violated. Of respondents, 12 percent of women and 3 percent of men reported that it had happened to them, and this was down from 24 percent for women and 8 percent for men in 1994.

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