Q&A

When can we terminate during medical leave?

05/28/2015
Q. We have an employee who has been on workers’ comp for nine months. He’s not planning to have his fractured ankle operated on. HR wants to terminate him on the grounds that (after the operation) he will have been on FMLA for over a year. We realize the employee would still be carried by our insurer. Can we legally terminate an employee on workers’ comp after a year’s medical leave? — Vincent, Louisiana

Is it legal to make employees pay us back when their cash drawers come up short?

05/20/2015
Q. One of our employees recently had a shortage in his register at the end of her shift. Are we permitted to deduct the shortage from his wages? If not, is there anything we can do?

How does the Paid Sick Leave Law affect the information that must appear on paystubs?

05/20/2015
Q. We are trying to comply with California’s new paid sick leave law, but we are not sure what exactly needs to be included on the paystub.

Is it OK to simply refuse to hire sex offenders?

05/20/2015
Q. After narrowing our search to one candidate, we learned that the applicant may be listed as a registered sex offender. We would just rather not hire this applicant. Can we legally do that?

Can we require English-only on the job?

05/20/2015
Q. We want to require our employees to read, speak and write English at work. Is such a policy legal?

Must we pay for time spent preparing to work?

05/18/2015
Q. We have an employee who regularly comes into work a half-hour or more before her scheduled shift in order to get her work station ready and otherwise get herself set up for the day. This preparation time is important to the employee because she does not believe that she can meet the production requirements of her job without it. The employee has been told that she cannot start performing her actual job tasks until the start of her scheduled shift. Our new HR manager has advised that we must pay the employee for the time that she spends preparing for her shift, even though she had no approval to work during that time. Is that right?

Does FMLA apply to same-sex spouses who don't live in states that recognize same-sex marriage?

05/18/2015
Q. We have operations in South Dakota, and one of our employees there has requested FMLA leave to care for his same-sex spouse for an FMLA-qualified reason. The couple was married in Minnesota, but South Dakota does not recognize same-sex marriage. Should we grant the FMLA leave request?

May we remove a restaurant server from shifts because of sores on her face?

05/18/2015
Q. We have a server at one of our restaurants who has open sores on her face. She claims she can’t get a bandage to stick to her chin, leaving the sore uncovered. As a result, we have received a few customer complaints. May we remove the server from her shifts so that we do not lose business?

How can we structure a policy that lets us search employees' belongings?

05/04/2015
Q. I am worried that some of my employees are storing illicit or illegal items at work. Is there a way for me to legally search their belongings?

Which laws cover military leave?

05/04/2015
Q. Some of the employees at my construction company are members of the military and scheduled for active duty in the near future. What laws and regulations apply to me and my employees who are in the military?

Can smokers claim an ADA disability to justify taking lengthy smoke breaks?

05/04/2015
Q. I own and run a paper company in Texas. Some of my employees who are cigarette smokers regularly take more breaks than the two, 15-minute breaks that are allowed under their employment contract—and some of the nonsmokers in the office are getting angry. When I confront the smokers about this conduct, I am increasingly hearing them make an unusual claim—that they have a “disability” and are protected by law. What should I do?

How do we prevent negligent hiring claims?

04/29/2015
Q. I recently read an article about employees who were attacked or harassed at work by other employees who never should have been hired in the first place. How can an employer reduce its risk of liability for negligent hiring?

Is it ever OK for a boss to change a time sheet?

04/29/2015
Q. Is it illegal for managers to change exempt or nonexempt employees’ time sheets if they neglect to indicate that they took a day off?

Did my innocent employment ad really open me up to charges of discrimination?

04/21/2015
Q. I recently posted want ads to hire new employees. Recently, I received a letter from someone who wants to sue me for “deterring applicants.” The ads that I sent out simply stated my company’s name and address, the position available and that applicants who are younger and live nearby are preferred. What did I do wrong?

What constitutes an essential job function?

04/21/2015
Q. I hand a brochure titled “Job Information and Requirements” to each new hire I bring on board to my construction company. With the addition of new positions, I need to draft new brochures with job descriptions, but am having trouble determining the essential job functions. Is there a specific method that I can use to decide whether a job function is essential?
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