Alabama Employment Law Report
Voting In Alabama, Service Dogs Under the ADA and Homewood Police Officer Fired for Text Messages
Voting Laws in Alabama. As we all know by now, election day is Tuesday, November 6. What do the laws of Alabama require Employers to do for their employees? ALL Alabama employees are entitled to take no more than one hour of leave to vote, if the employee is registered to vote. It is important to note that the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and the leave is NOT required if the employee is not scheduled to begin work within 2 hours of the polls opening, or end work within one hour of the polls closing. Any employee wishing to take this leave must give reasonable notice, and the employer may set the hours for which the employee may leave to vote. Finally, any Alabama employers with more than 25 employees are legally obligated to permit any employee who is a properly appointed election official to take leave on election days to perform their election duties. No matter who you may vote for, remember to please vote!!!!
Service Dogs and the ADA. In another one of those I can't make this stuff up stories, the owner of Billy Bob's Beds allegedly kicked an Iraqi war veteran, who helped with the capture of Saddam Hussein, and his service dog out of his San Antonio, Texas mattress store, and told him to "go occupy Wall Street". According to the NY Daily News, a lawsuit has been filed by Adan Gallegos, a disabled veteran, after he, his service dog, Bootz and another family member went to Billy Bob's to pick up a pre-purchased mattress and were kicked out. According to the suit, the store owner became irate when he saw the dog because the store has a no-pet policy. After Gallegos tried to explain about the service dog, the owner said "No one could make him do anything in his own building". Gallegos has suffered from depression, PTSD and other emotional conditions linked to combat after returning home. Billy Bob had offered a free mattress to Gallegos and a specially sized mattress for Bootz to drop the claim. Billy Bob's lawyer is quoted as saying "My client regrets the way things occurred', Billy Bob was not aware of the governmental regulations and that he is a small business owner with 8 employees who need their jobs.
Practice pointer. Service dogs and other service animals are allowed to enter businesses pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act. Refusal to permit legitimate service animals can result in expensive and time consuming litigation and very bad publicity.
Homewood Police Officer Fired for Inappropriate Text Messages. According to Al.com, 46 year old Mike Jackson,a 15 year veteran and Homewood's 2010 Officer of the Year, is appealing his termination after being fired for sending inappropriate texts to an 18 year old woman. He stopped the woman on August 8, 2012, in Homewood, and his dash camera was turned off as the car pulled over. The traffic stop was not listed on his daily report, and there was no record of him calling dispatch. The woman told authorities that he stopped her for no reason, except to talk to her. She started getting texts from him, asking if she would meet him at a restaurant, calling her sexy and that he saw her pictures on facebook and she was "gorgeous". After she complained, she received a text from Jackson asking her to call him. She called, and she says he begged her to "vouch for him and to say he didn't pull her over for no reason". Jackson was terminated on September 24. Jackson claims that the incident was a pretext for firing him due to his age and disability, alleging that younger officers and non-disabled officers have committed worse infractions without being terminated. He is also claiming that his due process rights were violated because he was not interviewed during the investigation, and he was not allowed to question any witnesses or present his own witnesses. Jackson is appealing his termination to the Jefferson County Personnel Board.
Practice pointer. Always be careful when using any type of electronic communications: text, email, social media (FB, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc). What you say or do can get you fired, arrested or even worse. Assume that anything sent via electronic communications will be made public.