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Stephanie Jane Hahn, Attorney At Law
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Indianapolis Employment Law Blog

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act 50 years later

As the Age Discrimination in Employment Act reaches its 50th anniversary, employment-related age discrimination claims in Indiana and around the country show no sign of abating. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claims regarding age discrimination peaked in 2008 at over 24,000. In the past decade, at least 20,000 have been filed annually, and in 2016, there were 20,857 filings.

Employers rarely set arbitrary age limits for jobs any more although this was more of a problem when the act was passed in 1967. However, other age discrimination issues that were a problem 50 years ago still are today. For example, the act mentions that older workers are struggling to keep their jobs as affluence and productivity increase. It also says that older people facing long-term unemployment may struggle to maintain their skill, morale and appeal to employers.

Uber board adopts firm's advice on harassment, other concerns

When an employee makes a sexual harassment complaint, management has a duty to investigate that complaint reasonably and to refrain from retaliating against the person who brought it. Uber, the ride-hailing giant, was facing a public accusation by a former employee that she experienced sexual harassment and that management failed to respond appropriately.

This wasn't Uber's first public scandal. Drivers in a number of areas, including in Hamilton County, have filed legal claims that they are misclassified as independent contractors when they should be considered employees. A group of employees has also claimed Uber underpaid them by at least $45 million by miscalculating the basis of their commissions.

Can I take an FMLA leave and for how long?

If you put family and work on a scale – seeking to achieve that elusive life-work balance – you surely agree it is nearly impossible to achieve. The assumption in even bring up the subject is that the two should somehow be equal. However, if presented with the question of what is most important, we think working Indiana parents would say their family's take precedence.

Unfortunately, the power of the purse is strong. A lot of the leverage is in the hands of employers. While it seems to defy common sense, the United States has no law on the books that guarantees paid time off for workers if they are dealing with a family care situation. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act does provide some workers with some unpaid time off, but if you don't know what rights exist, how can you exercise them?

Do not automatically accept or pursue a severance package

When you are terminated from a job, you may have the option of accepting or pursuing a severance package. However, depending on your circumstances, taking the severance may not actually be in your best interests. It is always wise to weigh your options with the help of an experienced attorney who understands how to fight for what is truly best for you, your career and your future.

It is possible that your employer is not required to offer you a severance package, depending on what kind of job you have. However, even if your employer does not have to offer one, it is possible to negotiate for some severance in some circumstances. However, either negotiating or accepting a severance package does usually preclude you from pursuing any further legal action against the employer for the termination.

Factors of workplace sexual harassment

Although we would all love to work in environments free of harassment of any kind, there is still a great deal of progress to make in this area. Many of us experience sexual harassment in the workplace on a regular basis, but may not know how to proceed or may worry that the treatment may not technically qualify as harassment. If you believe that you suffer from sexual harassment in the workplace, it is always wise to consult with an empathetic, committed attorney who can examine the details of your experience for actionable violations.

In broad strokes, any time that a person in a position of authority requires a subordinate to tolerate or participate in any sexual behavior in order to keep or obtain employment, this is sexual harassment. Even if this kind of behavior only occurs once, it may justify a sexual harassment suit.

Was your firing unjust or illegal?

Anytime you are fired, the emotional weight of the moment can make it very difficult to focus on what steps you can take to protect and defend yourself. It can be especially difficult to know in the moment if your termination was possibly illegal. If you were recently let go, it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney to determine if any aspect of your termination may have violated the law, and explore your legal options in response.

There are a number of standard reasons for firing an employee that are usually illegal, so you should always check them first to see if your termination qualifies. These include asserting some legal right that you hold, or complaining about unsafe working conditions. It is also illegal to terminate a person for reporting illegal activities occurring in the workplace. If your termination followed any of these actions on your part, then you should certainly consult with professional legal counsel. Just because it is illegal doesn't mean an employer won't try to get away with it!

Powerful pundit let go in wake of sexxual harrassment claims

Sexual harassment in the workplace has a long history in many industries. However, the last several years have seen significant gains in public support for those who report sexual harassment in the workplace, and the longstanding notion that powerful people are immune to sexual harassment charges is beginning to give way. Recently, one of the most powerful political pundits of all time was forced out of his very successful television show following a number of harassment claims against him.

While many of the charges remain unresolved or disputed, it is worth nothing that the parent company over the pundit's television program has already paid out millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements related to harassment claims by former colleagues. Many individuals in the news industry believe that the number of allegations and the great expense of the many settlements ultimately influenced the parent company to cut ties with the pundit, despite the fact that his program is one of the highest rated shows currently airing.

Appeals court protects LGBT workers from discrimination

In a major step forward for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, an appeals court ruled recently that the protections of the Civil Rights Act do in fact apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision that offers precise direction to many employers about whether or not they can treat LGBT employees differently — an issue that has come back into the spotlight lately.

Opponents of the decision claim that discrimination based on sex is distinctly different from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and should be treated as a legally distinct issue. While the decision is a notable step forward for workers' rights and equal protections for LGBT individuals, the ruling is in conflict with the decision of another appellate court decision handed down just a few months ago. In the eyes of many individuals, this conflict implies that the matter may be headed to the Supreme Court sooner than later.

Sick days and termination: is it wrongful?

Getting a sick day sounds like it should be a constitutional right. Unfortunately, the federal constitution does not promise workers sick days. Additionally, there are no federal laws that require companies to give sick days (although there could be a state law). The United States is an "at will" employment country, that means the baseline rule is that anyone can quit for any reason and anyone can fire you for any reason (except for a handful of exceptions like racism and sexism).

Do I qualify for guaranteed leave from my job after I give birth?

With so many elements of the business regulation world changing rapidly these days, it is difficult to know exactly what pregnant woman can expect and demand under the law as an employee. While the law does change from time to time, and may change again soon, there are current protections to new and expectant mothers under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

For many employees, it is necessary to take some time off of work for life emergencies and hardships. Expectant mothers and several other groups of people are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off if they and their employers meet certain qualifications. Other individuals who may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave include those who must care for a family member, those who are taking in a foster child or adopting and those facing a serious medical issue.

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