Supervisor’s take-home: Keep in mind that people rarely have to formally notify you that they’re eligible for protection under most anti-bias laws, as long as they provide you with enough information for you to recognize that they’re entitled to coverage.
What happened: A woman who’d obtained a protection order against an abusive partner accepted a job offer and was scheduled for training and orientation. Before she started in the position, however, her former partner violated the protection order by threatening her through a social media post.
What people did: The woman told her future employer about the protection order and the violation of it. The company asked for more information about the protection order, then rescinded the job offer.
Legal challenge: The woman sued the company under the state’s Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave Act, claiming that she was retaliated against for seeking leave.
The employer argued that the woman hadn’t formally requested leave under the law so she shouldn’t be allowed to pursue her lawsuit.
Result: The employer lost. The court ruled that the organization violated the law when it pulled the job offer.
Because the employer was aware of the protective order and that it had been violated, the woman didn’t need to formally request leave in order to qualify for coverage under the law.
The skinny: Under most employment laws, courts don’t require workers to file formal requests for eligibility. As long as the employer has been provided with adequate notice that coverage might be needed, the crew member is entitled to protection under the law even without making a formal request.
Cite: Osborne-Trussell v. The Children’s Hospital Corp., The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, No. SJC-12991, 8/25/21.
(From the Sept. 10, 2021, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)