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A B C’s OF EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION FOR EDUCATORS HIRING AND TERMINATION ISSUES AT YOUR SYNAGOGUE.

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Presentation on theme: "A B C’s OF EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION FOR EDUCATORS HIRING AND TERMINATION ISSUES AT YOUR SYNAGOGUE."— Presentation transcript:

1 A B C’s OF EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION FOR EDUCATORS HIRING AND TERMINATION ISSUES AT YOUR SYNAGOGUE

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6 OTHER IMPORTANT LAWS 1.FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) (50 or More Employee) 2.REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS THAT MAY BE REQUIRED UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)

7 WHO IS SUBJECT TO DISCRIMINATION LAWS A.TITLE VII, ADEA, ADA ONLY APPLIES IF YOU EMPLOY AT LEAST 15 PEOPLE B.BUT VARIOUS STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL LAWS MAY APPLY EVEN IF YOU EMPLOY A SINGLE PERSON C.JUST ASSUME YOU ARE SUBJECT TO SOME LAW AGAINST DISCRIMINATION REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY YOU EMPLOY

8 PROVING A DISCRIMINATION OR RETALIATION CLAIM A.DIRECT EVIDENCE 1.“You Are Just Too Old for this Job” 2.“You will pay for filing that discrimination complaint ”

9 PROVING A DISCRIMINATION OR RETALIATION CLAIM B.DIRECT METHOD OR INDIRECT METHOD YOU DON’T NEED A SMOKING GUN 1.COMBINATION VARIOUS STATEMENTS, ACTIONS AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, THAT TOGETHER CREATES A “CONVINCING MOSAIC OF DISCRIMINATION.” a.EXAMPLE 1: ASKING AN OLDER EMPLOYEE WHEN HE PLANS ON RETIRING OR ASKING HIS AGE AND LETTING HIM GO SHORTLY THEREAFTER DISCOVERING HE IS 40 OR OLDER b.EXAMPLE 2: “I DID NOT KNOW YOU WERE GAY”, FOLLOWED BY A NEGATIVE PERFORMANCE RATING SHORTLY THEREAFTER

10 2.SUSPICIOUS TIMING a. A TEACHER RECEIVED POSITVE EVALUATIONS UNTIL YOU LEARN SHE WAS IN A DRUG REHAB PROGRAM 3.SUSPICIOUS STATEMENTS OR ACTS a.“YOU DON’T FIT OUR PROFILE” b.FAILING TO HIRE ANYONE OVER THE AGE OF 40 4.TREATING SIMILARLY SITUATED EMPLOYEES OUTSIDE PLAINTIFF’S PROTECTED CLASSIFICATION MORE FAVORABLY IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS a.DISCIPLINING THE 65 YEAR OLD RUSSIAN TEACHER FOR NOT SUBMITTING HER LESSON PLAN ON TIME BUT TAKING NO ACTION AGAINST THE YOUNG AMERICAN EMPLOYEE FOR THE SAME THING

11 C. PRETEXT 1.YOU CANNOT JUST MAKE UP ANY FICTITIOUS REASON AS AN EXCUSE OR “PRETEXT” TO TERMINATE THE EMPLOYEE 2.PRETEXT IS ESTABLISHED BY EITHER PROVING THAT a.EMPLOYER’S ARTICULATED REASON FOR THE ACTION DID NOT ACTUALLY MOTIVATE THE ACTION i.Allowing Employee to be Tardy for the Last 3 Months Without Counseling Her, But a Few Weeks after You Discover She Is Pregnant, You Terminate Her for Tardiness b.THE ARTICULATED REASON HAS NO BASIS IN FACT c.OR THE ALLEGED REASONS WERE INSUFFICIENT TO MOTIVATE THE ACTION AGAINST PLAINTIFF. i.Female Teachers Rarely Prepare Lesson Plans, but the You Fire the Male Teacher Who Missed a Single Lesson Plan

12 YOU MAY THINK YOU DID NOTHING WRONG OR THAT THE TEACHER IS MAKING IT ALL UP, BUT..... A.PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING NOT EVERY PLAINTIFF IS LYING WHEN HE/SHE CLAIMS DISCRIMINATION 1.THEIR PERCEPTION MAY NOT BE ACCURATE, BUT THEY OFTEN BELIEVE WHAT THEY ARE SAYING B.EVERYONE IS PREJUDICED TO SOME DEGREE, THAT INCLUDES YOU, THE EMPLOYEES WORKING FOR YOU, AND OTHER SUPERVISORS AT YOUR SYNAGOGUE

13 BUT I HAVE NO PREJUDICES!!! YES YOU DO

14 THERE IS NO LOGIC TO PREJUDICE AND IT IS NOT TYPICALLY AN ALL OR NOTHING PROPOSITION FUNNY THINGS HAPPEN WHEN ONE OF YOUR EMPLOYEES GIVES YOU AN ATTITUDE OR RUBS YOU THE WRONG WAY, AND THAT EMPLOYEE IS FROM A PROTECTED CLASSIFICATION YOUR 65 YEAR OLD EMPLOYEE WHO IS STILL SHARP AND COMPUTER LITERATE IS WONDERFUL

15 BUT YOU FEEL THAT THE OTHER 65 YEAR OLD WHO HAS TROUBLE LEARNING THE NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM FOR REPORT CARDS IS JUST TOO OLD

16 BOTTOM LINE: A.BE OPEN MINDED TO THE POSSIBILITY THAT THERE MAY BE SOME MERIT TO AN ALLEGATION OF DISCRIMINATION B.STEP BACK AND CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY YOU MAY HAVE SOME BIAS, OR SAID SOMETHING OR ACTED IN A WAY THAT WAS PERCEIVED AS SHOWING SOME BIAS C.YOU CAN BE LIABLE FOR DISCRIMINATORY ACTS OF THE TEACHERS YOU SUPERVISE 1.If a Male Teacher Sexually Harasses a Female Teacher and You Fail to Take Proper Action, Your Synagogue Will Be Found Liable for Sexual Harassment D.EXPEDITIOUSLY ADDRESS COMPLAINTS OF DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT MADE BY YOUR EMPLOYEES. DO NOT REJECT THEM OUT OF HAND

17 PROTECTING YOURSELF AGAINST THE PROBLEM EMPLOYEE WHO HAS AN INACCURATE PERCEPTION OF EVENTS A. FIRST RULE: CONSISTENCY CONSISTENCY CONSISTENCY MOST COMMON EVIDENCE... CASES WHERE EMPLOYER TREATED A MINORITY EMPLOYEE DIFFERENTLY THAN THOSE OUTSIDE HIS/HER PROTECTED CLASSIFICATION THE YOUNG FEMALE TEACHER YOU LIKE ONLY GETS A WARNING FOR NOT SUBMITTING A LESSON PLAN BUT YOU REFUSE TO RENEW THE CONTRACT FOR THE EMPLOYEE WHO SUFFERS FROM DEPRESSION CLAIMING IT WAS DUE TO NOT SUBMITTING LESSON PLANS

18 YOU WILL FACE SITUATIONS WHERE YOU WANT TO BE MORE LENIENT WITH ONE EMPLOYEE VERSUS ANOTHER BE VERY SURE YOUR REASONS ARE STRONG ENOUGH TO FULLY JUSTIFY THE DIFFERENT TREATMENT TO A JUDGE OR (MAYBE WORSE) SOMEONE ON THE EXEC BOARD WHO YOU BUMPED HEADS WITH

19 B. SECOND RULE: DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT 1.IF A TEACHER IS FREQUENTLY TARDY OR HAS REPEATED PROBLEMS WITH THEIR LESSON PLANS, START KEEPING TRACK AND DOCUMENTING AS SOON AS YOU REALIZE THIS IS BECOMING A PROBLEM. 2.DOCUMENT EACH DISCUSSION YOU HAD WITH EMPLOYEE 3.BE CONSISTENT AND DOCUMENT ALL EMPLOYEES AT THE SAME POINT a. IF YOU IGNORE THE FIRST TWO PROBLEMS WITH THE MALE DO NOT ISSUE THE PREGNANT TEACHER A REPRIMAND THE FIRST TIME IT OCCURS WITH HER 4.TERMINATING EMPLOYEE FOR ALLEGED PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS + NO PRIOR DOCUMENTATION = $189K JUDGMENT AND AWARD OF $200K IN LEGAL FEES

20 C.HAVING A STRONG DEFENSE TO A POSSIBLE DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT MAY DISCOUARGE A PROSPECTIVE PLAINTIFF FROM TAKING THE CASE. SO... 1.PATIENTLY BUILD YOUR DEFENSE WHEN POSSIBLE UNLESS THE DECISION TO TERMINATE IS A NO-BRAINER 2.IF IT IS A PERFORMANCE RELATED PROBLEM, DOCUMENT YOUR EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THEIR PERFORMANCE AND PROVIDE THOSE MEMOS OR S TO THE EMPLOYEE 3.USE PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINE WHEN APPLICABLE

21 HIRING DECISIONS A.SAME FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS PROHIBIT HIRING DECISIONS BASED ON DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION B.EVIDENCE OF DISCRIMINATION 1. HIRING ONE TEACHER THOUGH HIS QUALIFICATIONS ARE NO BETTER THAN OR NOT AS QUALIFIED AS THE ELDERLY FEMALE PLAINTIFF a.THE BIGGER THE DISPARITY IN QUALIFICATIONS, THE STRONGER THE CASE AGAINST YOU IF YOU CHOOSE THE LESS QUALIFIED YOUNG PERSON OVER THE MORE QUALIFIED ELDERLY APPLICANT

22 2.ASKING QUESTIONS DURING THE HIRING PROCESS THAT A LAWYER WILL RECOGNIZE AS EVIDENCE OF DISCRIMINATION a.ANYTHING THAT REFLECTS AGE i.e.g. ASKING DATE THEY GRADUATED COLLEGE b.ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT MARITAL STATUS OR CHILDREN c.IF YOU ASK THEM IF THEY ARE PREGNANT OR PLANNING ON GETTING PREGNANT AND THEN FAIL TO HIRE HER, THEN PLEASE GIVE HER MY BUSINESS CARD BECAUSE THAT CASE WILL PAY FOR MY SON’S COLLEGE TUITION

23 C.EVIDENCE OF RETALIATION IN HIRING DECISIONS 1.IF YOU DECIDE NOT TO HIRE THE TEACHER BECAUSE A FELLOW EDUCATOR TOLD YOU HE FILED A DISCRIMINATION SUIT AGAINST THAT SYNAGOGUE THAT IS ALSO RETALIATION

24 D.HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF 1.BASE YOUR DECISION ON THE INTERVIEW AND THEIR EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS 2.TAKE AND KEEP YOUR NOTES OF THE INTERVIEW TO EXPLAIN WHY YOU PREFERRED ONE CANDIDATE OVER ANOTHER SO YOU REMEMBER IF YOU ARE SUED 10 MONTHS LATER a.GOOD: BETTER JUDAIC KNOWLEDGE b.GOOD: GREAT REFERENCE FROM ANOTHER EDUCATOR COMPARED TO OTHER PERSON c.GOOD: COMMUNICATION SKILLS GREAT (Especially in Comparison to the Plaintiff) d.BAD: RECENTLY DIVORCED, PREGNANT, OR ANY CODE WORD REFLECTING AGE e.REALLY BAD:I HATE OLD PEOPLE

25 3.BE CAREFUL ON ANY EXPLANATION YOU GIVE THE PEOPLE YOU DID NOT SELECT a.DO NOT SAY HE WAS NOT A “GOOD FIT”, NOR THAT “YOU WERE NOT WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR” ESPECIALLY IF THERE IS A LACK OF DIVERSITY IN YOUR WORK FORCE b.YOU CAN SAY YOU FOUND A MORE EXPERIENCED OR MORE QUALIFIED CANDIDATE

26 ACCOMMODATING DISABILITIES UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) A.TEACHER MUST HAVE WHAT THE LAW RECOGNIZES AS A DISABILITY WHICH IS A 1.“SUBSTANTIAL LIMITATION OF A MAJOR LIFE ACTIVITY” 2.EXAMPLES: a.MENTAL ILLNESS b.ALCOHOLIC OR DRUG ADDICT c.HIV POSITIVE

27 B.EMPLOYEE MUST STILL BE ABLE TO PERFORM ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS OF HER JOB WITH OR WITHOUT AN ACCOMMODATION 1.EXAMPLES: a.ATTENDANCE b.ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE WITH STUDENTS

28 C.REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS REQUIRED IF ACCOMMODATIONS ALLOW TEACHER TO PERFORM ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS OF JOB 1.TEACHER IN A WHEEL CHAIR SHOULD BE ASSIGNED A CLASS ON THE FIRST FLOOR IF THERE IS NO ELEVATOR 2.PROVIDING A TEACHER AIDE WOULD BE A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION FOR... a.TEACHER WITH LIMITED EYE SIGHT (BEING THE EYES FOR THE TEACHER), OR b.TO ENABLE A DIABETIC TO QUICKLY CHECK THEIR BLOOD SUGARS AS THE AIDE WATCHES THE CLASS

29 D.WHAT IS REASONABLE DEPENDS, IN PART, ON YOUR ABILITY TO PROVIDE THE ACCOMMODATION WITHOUT TOO MUCH DISRUPTION OR UNREASONABLE COST 1.PURCHASING AN EXPENSIVE ERGONOMIC DESK, CHAIR, OR SMART BOARD SYSTEM MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION, IF THIS IS NECESSARY, FOR A LARGE SYNAGOGUE THAT HAS MONEY 2.SAME REQUEST MIGHT BE UNREASONABLE FOR A SMALL SYNAGOGUE WITH A VERY LIMITED BUDGET E.ACCOMMODATIONS ARE VERY FACT DEPENDENT SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY BEFORE DENYING THE REQUEST

30 CONTRACTS A.IF TEACHER CONTRACT STATES THAT THEY WILL BE HIRED TO TEACH FOR A SPECIFIC TERM ( SEPT 5 TO JUNE 10), YOU ARE LEGALLY REQUIRED TO KEEP PAYING THEM THROUGH JUNE 10, UNLESS YOU CAN PROVE “JUST CAUSE” FOR TERMINATION B.SO, CLEARLY SPELL OUT THE EXPECTATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS AND POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES FOR FAILING TO COMPLY 1.ATTENDANCE AT ALL TEACHER MEETINGS IS MANDATORY 2.LESSON PLANS MUST BE PROVIDED TO THE PRINCIPAL AT LEAST 24 HOURS BEFORE CLASS

31 C.CLEARLY SPELL OUT POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES IF THEY FAIL TO MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS 1.BE CONSISTENT IN ENFORCING THIS D.INCLUDE A PROVISION GIVING A NON EXCLUSIVE LIST OF WHAT WILL BE CONSIDERED GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION 1.NO CALL NO SHOW 2.REFUSAL TO FOLLOW REASONABLE DIRECTIONS OF THE EDUCATOR 3.FAILURE TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE AFTER BEING NOTIFIED IN WRITING OF THESE DEFICIENCIES 4.TOTALLY DISABLED, FINDING OF DISABILITY BY SSI OR UNABLE TO WORK FOR EXTENDED PERIOD BE CAREFUL ABOUT THIS ONE. SPEAK TO ATTORNEY FIRST

32 E.MAKE SURE YOU ARE CONSISTENT IN ENFORCING THESE EXPECTATIONS AND IN THE DISCIPLINE YOU IMPOSE F.MAKE SURE THE EXPECTATIONS AND GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION ARE REASONABLE

33 TODAH RABAH SHALOM ARTHUR R EHRLICH ARTHUR R EHRLICH GOLDMAN & EHRLICH GOLDMAN & EHRLICH 19 SOUTH La SALLE STREET 19 SOUTH La SALLE STREET SUITE 1500 SUITE 1500 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS CHICAGO, ILLINOIS


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