Week In Review

August 11, 2015

Maine adds social media privacy protections for employees
Maine has enacted a social media privacy law. The law, which applies to both private and public employers, prohibits an employer from requesting that an employee or applicant (1) disclose the means for accessing a personal social media account; or (2) access a personal social media account in the presence of the employer or an agent of the employer. The law also prohibits an employer from requiring an employee or applicant to (1) disclose any personal social media account information; (2) add anyone to their list of contacts associated with a personal social media account; or (3) alter settings that affect a third party's ability to view the contents of a personal social media account. An employer who violates the social media privacy law will be subject to a fine imposed by the Department of Labor of not less than $100 for the first violation, not less than $250 for the second violation, and not less than $500 for each subsequent violation.

EEOC files systemic disability discrimination suit against CA company
The EEOC has filed a lawsuit against a California-based healthcare company violated the ADA when it engaged in systemic discrimination against a class of job applicants and employees due to their perceived or actual disabilities. According to the EEOC, since 2012, a class of applicants and employees were affected by the employer’s practice of denying hire, not accommodating, and ultimately firing individuals who were regarded as disabled, had records of disabilities, or had actual disabilities. Some class members purportedly applied for jobs and were offered positions on the condition that they pass a medical examination. However, the company discharged or revoked the job offers of class members when it learned of or received records showing prior medical conditions or current medical restrictions.

Alcoholism no excuse for poor attendance
A New York-based company fired a boiler utility operator after he violated the employer’s no-call/no show policy. His termination came shortly after he had taken FMLA-protected leave, allegedly to deal with his alcoholism. The employee sued the company, claiming that he was terminated because of a disability (alcoholism) and for taking medical leave to treat the condition. A federal court upheld the termination, finding the employee was terminated for violating the employer’s attendance policy, and not because of his disability or for taking FMLA-protected leave. The Court determined that reliable attendance at scheduled shifts was an essential function of a boiler utility operator. The employee had to be present at the plant to monitor the boiler, respond to any alarms, handle any power outage, or (if needed) respond to an explosion.

SESCO recommends that clients review all applicable policy and practices to ensure compliance. For assistance, contact us at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com