Fowler Ditsch, LLC is excited to announce Associate Attorney Alec Rolain has joined the law firm as we continue to grow.
Alec attended Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota where he majored in political science and philosophy. While at Saint Mary’s, Alec was a member of the NCAA DIII Cardinal baseball team. Upon graduation, he attended Mitchell Hamline School of Law. There, Alec worked for Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik PLLC as a Student Certified Attorney and Ambrose Law as a criminal defense law clerk. Following law school, Alec accepted a Judicial Clerkship with First Judicial District Assistant Chief Judge David L. Knutson, in Dakota County. Alec now joins Fowler Ditsch after being admitted to practice law in Minnesota in November of 2019. Outside work, Alec enjoys an active life style, which includes golfing, skiing, working out, and spending time outside.
Alec can be reached at our office number, 651-287-8883, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the same time, we are both excited and saddened to say that our long-term paralegal Vanessa is leaving us to go back to school.
Beginning this Fall, Vanessa will be enrolled at Concordia University in St. Paul to get her Master’s degree in Human Resources Management. We are happy for her, and someday soon, you may see Vanessa working in Employee Relations with some of you. Please join us in thanking Vanessa for her many years of work for the firm and help she has provided to all of our members. Vanessa’s last day will be Friday, July 10. Good Luck on this next chapter!
Rob Fowler on the John Williams show on Wcco.
Mike Max filling in for John Williams talks to attorney Rob Fowler about an incident with a Richfield Police Officer.
Hear it hear:
10-6-15 John Williams Show 5pm: Robert Fowler & Sheriff Kurt Freitag Mike Max was in for John! In this hour, he talked with Robert Fowler about the case in Richfield where an officer appears to slap a teen. Then he talked to Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag about how he handled a harrassment case in a unique fashion
Dr. Dennis L. Conroy and Christine Hess Orthmann have come out with a book called “Surviving a Law Enforcement Career, A Guide for Cops and Those who Love Them.”
This book is written for “all the cops who live this stuff every day and the families who live with them.”
What is special about this book for Fowler Ditsch is that attorney Robert Fowler helped contribute with Chapter 12,
“Surviving Legal Battles.”
Other Chapters talk about:
Marriage, divorce, burnout and stress.
Go ahead and check it out here:
The United States Supreme Court decided on June 1, 2015 that clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964 when it refused to hire Samantha Elauf based solely on an unsubstantiated belief that she would refuse to remove a headscarf she wore to the interview to comply with Abercrombie’s dress code. Ms. Elauf is a practicing Muslim, and the company correctly guessed that she wore a headscarf in accordance with her Muslim religion. Because it based its hiring decision on a practice associated with religion, the Court said that Abercrombie violated the law. This significant opinion by the Court shows, again, that employers simply cannot make hiring or other employment decisions motivated by race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Abercrombie’s position was that they had no actual knowledge, one way or the other, of Ms. Elauf’s religion, and so they could not be held to have made any hiring decision “because of. . . religion.” The topic of religion never came up. Ms. Elauf scored well enough to be hired, but the hiring manager did not know whether the headscarf would violate the company’s no-“caps” dress code policy. The hiring manager assumed, correctly, that Ms. Elauf wore the headscarf in accordance with her understanding of her Muslim faith. That assumption was enough, said the Court, to improperly motivate the decision to not hire Ms. Elauf, in violation of Title VII.
The decision makes explicit that Title VII provides extra protections to these protected classes. “Title VII does not demand mere neutrality with regard to religious practices – that they be treated no worse than other practices. Rather, it gives them favored treatment, affirmatively obligating employers not ‘to fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual . . . because of such individual’s religious observance and practice.’” So, it was not enough for Abercrombie to say that no employee is permitted to wear a “cap,” be it a Muslim headscarf, a Jewish Yarmulke, or a Boston Red Sox ball cap (to signify allegiance to the most significant faith in New England). Federal law says that employers must make exceptions to their otherwise neutrally-applied rules.
There are limits. Employers can still have dress codes, but they bear the burden to show that they could not reasonably accommodate the religious practice without an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business. Theoretically, Abercrombie could still make the case that a headscarf is so far outside their required “look” that it would hurt business. This might be a stretch for Abercrombie, even considering its reputation for closely adhering to its appearance standards. But, other employer’s might have an easier time. Hooter’s will likely be able to avoid accommodating a woman who, because of her faith, wants to wear a hijab at work. Like them or not, Hooter’s makes money because it has scantily clad women serving its customers.
What should the company have done? Consider this thought experiment. Assume the candidate is a great candidate for employment, but she wore a headscarf to the interview. The manager could state that the company has a no-“caps” policy, and ask whether the applicant is willing to comply with the policy. If the answer is “yes,” problem solved. The applicant has not requested an accommodation to their policy, their policy is followed, so they have no problem. If the answer is “no,” does the company have any obligation to inquire further as to the applicant’s reasons? Probably, if the company believes that the applicant refuses due to a religious practice or belief. If the applicant tells the interviewer that their refusal is simply because they prefer to be covered, then the employer’s obligation to accommodate is eliminated. They would not be obligated to hire. If the reasons for refusing are religious, then the burden is on the company again to determine whether they can make an accommodation to their no-“caps” policy. Of course, the prudent company will establish bona fide occupational qualifications for its employment positions.
So does this open the flood-gates? Probably not, but it means that employers cannot just ignore the hijab in the room
Tomorrow at 4:30pm catch Rob Fowler on the air with WCCO’s John Williams. John Williams weekdays from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. If you have something to say on a topic, call-in at 651-989-9226 or text 81807.
Rob will be talking about legal representation for Law Enforcement Officers and the ongoing police topics affecting our nation today.
Catch it live here:
The importance of Collective Bargaining Agreements:
Here is that court order vacating the Adrian Peterson arbitration award for the Minnesota Vikings player. The Arbitrator’s decision was overturned by District Court, “The NFLPA argues that the award fails to draw its essence from the CBA because it ignores established law of the shop, namely, that the New Policy may not be retroactively applied. . . . [Arbitrator] Henderson simply disregarded the law of the shop and in doing so failed to meet his duty under the CBA”.
As promised a few weeks ago, we have a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT! It is with great honor and pride that I welcome Joseph Ditsch as a partner in my law firm. He is my friend and colleague and fraternity brother of over 20 years. It is now official. For the last 10 years I was a solo practitioner law firm. I have carried Fowler Law as far as I can on my own. We now transition to a partnership law firm and have greater possibilities and abilities. Fowler Law Firm LLC will now be doing business as simply Fowler Ditsch. Congratulations to you Joe, you have earned it. Joe is a fellow MIT educated man and brings 15 years of labor management experience. In addition, his legal skills and confident friendly persona will be welcome to the partnership. We will continue to be General Counsel to the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police https://www.mnfop.com, and MNPEA at mnpea.com. Please feel free to contact us at www.fowlerditsch.com/contact.