This & That Tuesday 13.2.19

by hr4u.
Feb 22 13

Here is the latest issue of “This & That” Tuesday. I hope you find it to be informative and useful.



You can always check out my website for upcoming speaking engagements that are guaranteed to be of value to business owners. More details about the events and Human Resources 4U can be found on my website.


Employee Handbook Updates 2013: There have been significant changes to CA employment laws in the past two years. If you haven’t updated your Employee Handbook recently and you are interested in having me update your employee handbook, please contact me.


Marijuana and Alcohol and Workers’ Compensation

A workers’ comp claimant was a man who admittedly smoked marijuana while working at Great Bear Adventure Park. After repairing a fence in a drug-addled state, he decided it would be fun to go inside the fence and feed the grizzly bears. The biggest bear in the park promptly “sat on him and bit his legs and buttocks.” He eventually managed to crawl away and was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgeries for various injuries, including a detached knee cap.


This claimant′s initial application for benefits was denied. But he appealed all the way to the Montana Supreme Court. The court called the claimant “mind-bogglingly stupid” but ruled that his pot-smoking habit didn’t significantly contribute to his injuries. The court called grizzlies “equal-opportunity maulers” and found no evidence that the claimant provoked the attack because he was high.


Another claimant was a painter. According to court documents, he “began drinking alcohol at the work site at about 2 p.m. and continued until he had consumed a small bottle of whiskey and more than half a fifth of vodka.” He then stopped performing any work duties and removed himself to a first floor closet where he slept for two hours. After he woke up, he stumbled around for a while and then fell down an empty elevator shaft.


This claimant was denied benefits because his whiskey and vodka guzzling directly contributed to his injuries, according to a Utah court. The court didn’t buy his argument that he fell while masking the trim around the elevator shaft opening and that the fact that he was stumbling around in a booze-fueled post-nap haze had nothing to do with his injuries.



You can never predict a workers' comp ruling so it pays to have a safe workplace and have all your supervisors trained to recognize and report impaired behaviors.  You should even have rank and file employees trained to report any behaviors they believe might cause injuries to anyone. If either of the employers in these cases had taken minimal precautions to protect their employees, you wouldn’t be reading about them here. Even though the second claimant lost his case, his employer had to spend lots of time and money to prove its case.


AA Foundries Must Pay $200,000 for Creating Racially Hostile Work Environment

In the past two months, the EEOC has had several cases involving severe racial harassment, including a $2.7 million settlement against an environmental clean-up company, and a harassment case in which a white employee was the victim. Here is another case.


A federal jury awarded $200,000 in punitive damages yesterday to three former employees of AA Foundries in a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The EEOC's lawsuit charged AA Foundries, Inc., a local San Antonio manufacturer of ferrous castings and producer of foundry mold machines, with racially harassing its African-American employees in violation of federal law. One African-American employee testified at trial that he filed an EEOC complaint because he wanted his children to learn not to be prejudiced against others nor for others to be prejudiced against them in the workplace


AA Foundries superintendent, the top plant official, not only used the "N" word himself, but admitted that it did not bother him that derogatory racial slurs were commonly heard in the workplace. The superintendent also called adult African-American male employees "mother-f—g boys," posted racially-tinged written material in the break room, and routinely slandered them referring to them as "you people" and accusing African-Americans of always stealing and wanting welfare. After several employees filed racial harassment charges with the EEOC, a noose was displayed at the AA Foundries workplace. In response to employee complaints about this noose, the superintendent described such reports as "BS" and stated the noose "was no big deal" and that "you people are too sensitive."


This type of conduct constitutes a hostile work environment, a form of race-based discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.


The jury's verdict in this case upholds the public interest and will benefit all employees at AA Foundries. Employers must take measures to prevent racial harassment and to properly respond to any type of complaint of discrimination. Management officials, in particular, must act promptly to stop and remedy discrimination-not be the instigators of harassment themselves.


The EEOC trial Attorney added, "All workers are entitled to earn a living free from harassment. The jury's verdict signals to employers the importance of having strong and effective anti-harassment policies in place that all employees, especially those in supervisory or management positions, know and follow."


Time Off Factoids

  • The US is the only industrialized country without a law guaranteeing paid vacations
  • 137 countries have this benefit
  • Americans are twice as likely as Europeans to suffer from anxiety and depression
  • In 2011 only 57% of American workers took a vacation of 1 week or longer
  • 25% of Americans receive no paid vacation.
  • Only 69% of lower paid workers get any paid vacation
  • Men who don’t take regular vacations are 32% more likely to die of a heart attack and women have 50% more risk of a heart attack