Daily Read: Work Schedule Software Wreaks Havoc • Mental Illness in the Workplace • Retaliation Served up Cold

Here are the best employment law reads for Thursday, August 14, 2014. Enjoy.

  • Working Anything But 9 to 5 New York Times has a very interesting piece on a new challenge for workers. Increasingly, the modern workplace pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers. Along with virtually every major retail and restaurant chain, Starbucks relies on software that choreographs workers in precise, intricate ballets, using sales patterns and other data to determine which of its 130,000 baristas are needed in its thousands of locations and exactly when. Big-box retailers or mall clothing chains are now capable of bringing in more hands in anticipation of a delivery truck pulling in or the weather changing, and sending workers home when real-time analyses show sales are slowing. This may be seen as efficient for employers but it can wreak havoc on the lives of its workforce. Hat Tip: Paul Secunda
  • Coping with Mental Disorders: An Employer's Obligations Chris Engler guests posts over at Dan Schwartz's Connecticut Employment Law Blog. Englers uses the sad loss of Robin Williams as his jumping off point for a thoughtful discussion regarding the sometimes tricky issue of how an employer should properly deal with an employee who may suffer from a mental health condition. He notes: The trend seems to be that the courts will require employers to go to significant lengths (including hiring a full-time paraprofessional, as in the third case) to enable employees with mental disabilities to keep working.  But that goal from courts is not limitless. The courts also want some reassurance that an employee can continue performing his or her job.  If the employee can’t do the job even with the requested accommodation – or if the accommodation is to not do the job at all, as in the second case above – it’s probably not a reasonable accommodation.
  • When Retaliation Stands the Test of Time Jon Hyman has a good piece out today discussing the role of temporal proximity as evidence in retaliation cases. He discusses a case in which the employer (Warning: Texas terminology imminent) was waiting in the tall grass for the employee and retaliated against the employee many years after the employee's complaint. The money quote: "...an employer cannot hold a grudge against an employee who engaged in protected activity, with the hope that the passage of time will permit later retaliation. If an employee can connect the dots between the protected activity and the adverse action, the employer faces risk, no matter how much time has passed."