Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Does an Employer Need Your Facebook Password

Yes, we still are the United States of America. So why is it necessary for an employer to ask interviewees to provide access to their Facebook accounts, to include providing management with the potential employee's Facebook password.  Robert Lavigne describes a scenario as follows

The HR manager, who legally could not ask you about your sexual orientation or religious beliefs, does the unthinkable. They ask you to hand over your facebook account and password for further screening. Faced with the thought of continued unemployment, you agree out of fear and cohersion. As they scan your friends, uploaded pictures, status updates both public and private, you sit there is complete disbelief at what is happening. 

Lavigne further adds:
 Sounds far fetched, but this is happening right now. These HR policies and corporate mindsets go against everything that is Social Business. Most job seekers unfortunately will simply accept these new terms without any resort or retort. Well, I am making it clear right here and now. I will not work for any company who would promote or allow this form of social privacy invasion and social profile hijacking.

So, what will you do if your favorite corporation asks you to provide your Facebook password to HR prior to making  a decision to hire you.  Check out Robert Lavigne's post in its entirety at What is Your Password?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Charges Pending Against Hyatt for Employee Appreciation Prank

I would expect to read a story like this from a garage owned by a man named Joey. I find it surprising that a story like this would come from the Hyatt.

Two middle aged sisters worked for the Hyatt as housekeepers.  One day when they arrived at work they heard laughter from their co-workers and management.  Apparently, someone used photos of the two women and placed their faces on the bodies of slimmer cartoon women in bikinis.  The pictures appeared on an “employee appreciation” bulletin board.  Apparently, one of the sisters did not appreciate the “commendation” and took the pictures down.  The sisters felt ashamed and humiliated by the prank.  The ladies indicated that they do not own a bikini.  Believe it or not, the sisters were told to put the pictures back up on the bulletin board.  Within a month, the Hyatt fired the two women for taking too many breaks.   Let’s see the Hyatt try to get that one past the judge.

The two women have a case against the Hyatt pending with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Their claims involve sexual harassment and retaliation.  Thus, the ladies’ sexual harassment claim is based on denigrating them by placing their photos on sexually suggestive cartoons.  The retaliation aspect comes into play because the law is designed to protect anyone who participates in a proceeding geared towards stopping harassment or opposing a practice in the company that promotes harassment.

While the burden is on the ladies to prove their harassment and retaliation cases, it looks like this will be a difficult case for the Hyatt.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

After Sexual Harassment of Female Employee Joan Rivers Attends Training

I am not sure if this was a publicity stunt or idle Hollywood gossip. Still, news of Joan Rivers “harassment” of a female employee can provide lessons for employers.

Apparently, Joan Rivers and someone named Melissa have a reality show called “Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best.” While the show was being filmed, Joan was captured trying on jewelry on the young woman. The woman provides the following description of the incident:
 “Putting all the jewelry on me and pulling my sweater back and touching my breasts.” 
Sounds like harassment to me.  Rivers may think that the young lady’s allegations are ridiculous, but pulling the woman’s blouse open and saying, “Peek-a-boo, look at you today,” then complimenting the woman’s breasts will land most corporations in court. With activity caught on camera, it would be difficult for Rivers to dispute her employee’s claims.

When an employer learns of allegations of harassment, the appropriate thing is to take prompt remedial action to ensure that the harassment does not repeat itself. In this case, the company took the appropriate action by conducting mandatory harassment training for all employees.

Ms. Rivers’ response, however, could land a company in hot water because she made it no secret that she was not happy with having to attend the training. Evidence that a CEO thought harassment training was a waste of time would not be well received by a jury.

Fortunately, for Ms. Rivers and her company, the employee decided not to move forward with the complaint. I certainly hope that Ms. Rivers’ legal team advises her not to fire this employee because then her company would be forced to defend a retaliation suit.

For questions regarding sexual harassment and/or retaliation, do not hesitate to call me, Rich Bradford at (813) 413-2402.

As a side note, I made note of prompt remedial action above. While this is an important defense in a harassment case, this defense may not be available in a case where a superior harasses a subordinate.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is Auto Dealership Liable for Race Discrimination

Two African American males who are employed by Verizon visited an automobile dealership.  These employees were interested in looking at the luxury cars on the lot. They spent some time talking to a sales person.  They were interested in one of the cars and one of the men offered his driver’s licenses to the sales person.  The sales person left to retrieve the keys to the car.  Upon the sales person’s return, he told the men that his sales manager would not let them test drive the car until the dealership ran a credit report on Plaintiffs.  The sales person told the men that this was dealership’s policy. The men were not happy with this treatment and they left the dealership without test driving car.
The two men later shared their story with co-worker who is Caucasian.  Subsequently, the friend went to the dealership.  On his visit to the dealership, the friend asked to test drive the same vehicle as the two African American men.  The salesman allowed the friend to test drive the vehicle without running a credit check.
The friend then shared his experience with the two African American men.  Having heard his story, the two men filed a race discrimination law suit against the dealership.
Do you think the African American men have a discrimination case?  If so, what is the case worth?

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