Does an employer violate discrimination laws when it acts on information that it honestly believes about an employee that disqualifies him from the job? Even if the employer might be mistaken and the employee has a legally protected disability? An appellate court recently provided the answer. No!!

Continue Reading Are Rumor Based Beliefs a Defense to Discrimination Claims?

Should an employee who, while at a convention, knocks on a coworker’s hotel room door, enters, then heads to the coworker’s bed wearing nothing but a robe be fired, even if the employee claims to have been sleepwalking at the time? Or, as George Costanza of Seinfeld fame asked, “was that wrong?”

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: The Case of the Somnambulant Sales Rep

In our occasional series spotlighting outrageous workplace conduct, we have come across an incredible, albeit petty, means of payment: pennies. Rarely does the inconsequential piece of copper find itself in the headlines. But, one former employee likely saw enough pennies in one day to last him a lifetime.

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: Petty Pennies

Determining pay based on gender is wrong. It’s also pernicious. The domino effect of an inappropriately depressed starting wage can impact pay for one’s lifetime. It’s also illegal under Federal and State anti-discrimination laws; pay decisions must be based on the job, not protected characteristics, including a person’s gender. Beyond these laws, which often address alleged violations after-the-fact, pay equity increasingly is being dealt with by State laws prohibiting inquiries about past salary and/or that require employers to provide applicants with salary ranges for the job they are seeking. The goal is to head off discrimination and stop the dominos from tumbling toward a lifetime of depressed wages. All of these laws are premised on the statistics that show women earn roughly 83 % of wages earned by men.

Continue Reading Pay Equity – What’s Good for the Gander is Good for the Goose?

With case rates declining and COVID vaccine options expanding, five States as of March 8, 2021 have announced the end of all pandemic-driven restrictions, including mask mandates. (The lifting of Texas’ ban takes place on March 10; eleven states never mandated face coverings.) The “mask wars” had been tamped down by State mandates, but détente has ended in the “open” States. What does this mean for workplaces?

Continue Reading What to Do About Workplace Masking in the “Open” States

In Maryland, if your employment application includes criminal history questions, then you are not paying attention to Shawe Rosenthal’s electronic communications.  As we advised in an E-Lert, “Ban the Box” (the little box asking about criminal history that applicants check off) became the law in Maryland effective February 29, 2020.

Continue Reading Maryland Bans Another Box from Employment Applications (and Discussions)

Apparently inspired by the tidying up trend, the Department of Labor threw out two sections of its interpretation concerning the commission sales exemption from overtime that no longer gave it joy.  The commission sales exemption covers sales employees who are primarily paid by commission.  To come under the exemption, the employee must be employed in a “retail or service” establishment, must earn at least 1.5 times the minimum wage, and more than half the employee’s compensation for a representative period (not less than one month) must represent commissions.

Continue Reading DOL Streamlines Its Regulation Interpreting Commission Sales Exemption from Overtime

By now we probably all have seen the YouTube Video of poor Danny, who finished his Zoom video meeting with his colleagues and forgot to end the call as he walked away from the screen, his colorful boxer short underwear in plain sight (along with his backscratching stretch to loosen his muscles).  Or the son of the late Steve Reeve of Superman fame (Will), a reporter who was spied at the end of a news piece he broadcasted from home without any suit pants! Ah, Danny and Will! But, other things are happening while employees work from home that raise concerns.  For example, the employee who during a conference call is slurring his speech as if intoxicated.

Continue Reading DWZ – Drinking While Zooming (And Other Telework Dilemmas)