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Student as Teacher Project

Employment Law (MGT 434) is built around some core material in the field of Human Resource Law. The course requires classroom participation. We suggest that you read chapters 5, 13, and 17 in the text. Focus on the main points of each chapter and make notes on the most important ideas and concepts that relate to Affirmative Action, The American Disabilities Act and The Family Medical Leave Act. It is important that you develop a general understanding of the laws that apply to these chapters and how they apply to the workplace. To solidify your understanding of your reading you can discuss the concepts in your Learning Teams.

Affirmative Action

Main Points: Affirmative Action is probably the single most misunderstood concept in employment law. (Bennett-Alexander, 2001). On a statutory basis, affirmative action is supposed to be defined as the "intentional inclusion of women and minorities in the workplace based on a finding of their previous exclusion". Further, the provision is only mandatory for companies who are engaged in government contracting. Public disagreements and various interpretation of the law have caused the objectives of affirmative action to become distorted. Employers witnessing this ambiguity, even those without contracting issues, took the "safe" approach and determined they must hire specific groups to avoid lawsuits. Qualifications became secondary to gender and race considerations. Thus, it appeared to be a law against qualified white males instead of one designed to assist Title VII in eliminating discrimination.

Most Important Ideas: The most important idea related to affirmative action is that it is not a quota system forcing employers to hire a set number of female and black employees regardless of qualification. Rather, it is designed to provide inclusion of groups whose numbers are underrepresented in the workplace as compared to representation in the available workforce. Qualification of the candidate is still legitimate criteria in the decision process. Additionally, absent government contracting, affirmative action is voluntary.

Most Difficult Concepts to Understand: The most difficult concept to understand in affirmative action initiatives is the explanation of discrimination practices vs. under-representation. On the surface, it appears Title VII should provide enough protection to avoid discrimination. However, it is apparently not sufficient to prevent under-representation, but the distinction between the two is unclear.

Affirmative Action

Questions and Answers

1. Question - Do we need an affirmative action plan?

Answer - Companies with 100 or more employees and government contracts or subcontracts must file plans.

2. Question - What is Affirmative Action?

Answer - Affirmative action, as a policy, is usually said to be in place when a company or institution takes reasonable action to remedy any discriminatory behavior, which has occurred in the past.

The Family Medical Leave Act

Main Points: The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 is intended to provide a means for employees to balance their work and family responsibilities by taking unpaid leave for certain reasons. These reasons include birth or care of employee's child or placement of foster care or adoption of child with the employee. It also covers care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition or for the employee's own serious health condition.

The Most Important Ideas: Eligibility requirements for the employee maintain that the employee must have worked at least twelve months and have worked at least 1250 hours during the twelve months immediately preceding the date of commencement of FMLA leave. The twelve months of employment do not have to be consecutive. The FMLA provides up to twelve weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any twelve months.

Most Difficult Concepts to Understand: Some of the more difficult concepts of the FMLA are the employer provisions.

Employers must maintain the same level of group health benefits for the employee during periods of FMLA as if the employee continued to work. Employers may require the employee to use accrued paid leave time during FMLA. FMLA leave is subject to employer approval with the exception of pregnancy that is considered leave for a serious health condition. For example, leave for the care of a sick relative, or care for the birth of adoption within the employee's family may be subject to employer approval. An employer may require periodic reports and intent to return to work during FMLA including a "fitness for duty" certification upon return to work.

Family Medical Leave Act

Questions and Answers

1. Question - How much leave am I entitled to under FMLA?

Answer - If you are an "eligible" employee, you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for certain family and medical reasons during a 12-month period.

2. Question - Does the law guarantee paid time off?

Answer - No. The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect, or the employer to require the employee, to use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave, for some or all of the FMLA leave period. When paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave, it may be counted against the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement is the employee is properly notified of the designation when the leave begins.

3. Question - Can the employee count leave taken due to pregnancy complications against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of a child?

Answer - Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period. If the employee has to use some of that leave for another reason, including a difficult pregnancy, it may be counted as part of the 12-week FMLA entitlement.

4. Question - Who is considered an immediate "family member" for purposes of taking FMLA leave?

Answer - An employee's spouse, children (son or daughter), and parents are immediate family members for purposes of FMLA.

5. Question - Which employees are eligible to take FMLA leave?

Answer - Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and



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