Q&A

Under what circumstances can we demand alcohol testing? We suspect employee is impaired

07/22/2016
Q. We have been finding empty beer cans just outside our facility on a regular basis. We suspect one employee in particular since he often has slurred speech and stumbles around. We understand alcoholism is a disability, but we are fearful that he will get hurt because he is impaired. Should we ask him to submit to alcohol testing?”

Must we grant access to personnel records?

05/27/2016

Q. One of our former employees has asked to see his personnel file. Are we required to grant him access to it?

Not contesting unemployment: legal or illegal?

04/14/2016
Q. We have a challenging employee who is not really a poor performer, but is generally disliked by her co-workers. She is a gossip and games the system on our attendance policy. She seems to needlessly start minor squabbles with other employees. Recently, this employee approached HR and offered to resign if the company would agree not to fight her request for unemployment. We feel like this is a good opportunity to get rid of a problem employee without terminating her, and unemployment benefits would be a small price to pay. Is there any reason why we shouldn’t accept her resignation and agree to not challenge her unemployment claim?

Alcohol in accounting: Can we insist on testing for possibly intoxicated employee?

04/14/2016
Q. We have an employee in our accounting department who, a few times over the past month, has come to work smelling of alcohol and displaying signs of intoxication. For several years this employee was a solid performer, but lately she’s missing deadlines and has been somewhat belligerent to co-workers. We are worried about her health, of course, but also her performance and any potential liability related to her conduct while she’s under the influence. When asked by co-workers, this employee has denied having a drinking problem or being intoxicated at work. Since she’s in denial, can we ask her to submit to a test for alcohol the next time she appears to be intoxicated at work?

When do we need to deliver a final check?

04/14/2016
Q. If we decide to terminate an employee for poor performance, can we provide his final paycheck on our next regular payroll date?

Must we allow service animals at work?

04/01/2016
Q. One of our employees has requested permission to bring her therapy dog to work every day. Are we required to allow her to do this?

Can we require employees to provide advance notice that they will need FMLA leave?

04/01/2016
Q. One of our employees notified us that he will need to take leave under the FMLA. Can we require employees to give us more advance notice?

Employee gave two weeks' notice--can we just terminate him right away?

03/02/2016
Q. An employee has recently provided two weeks’ notice of his intent to resign. Can I tell the worker that he or she is not needed for the two weeks and avoid paying him for that time?

Should we acknowledge an employee's resignation with some form of written documentation?

02/12/2016

Q. If an employee resigns, do I need to get them to sign a resignation letter?

Are we allowed to discipline an employee for spouting off about political topics?

02/08/2016
Q.  With the upcoming presidential elections, political conversation among employees has become more frequent and intense. One employee in particular, whose political views are the opposite of most of the others in the office, has taken to vehemently promoting his favored candidate and that candidate’s views. Several employees have complained that this has made them uncomfortable. Can we take disciplinary action against the employee for promoting his political views? We are a private employer.

What can I do about employee whose volunteer firefighting duties interfere with work?

01/15/2016

Q. One of my employees is a volunteer firefighter. Although I believe that volunteering is important, his absences to respond to emergencies have disrupted workplace productivity. Can I replace him or stop him from being absent from work?

Are noncompete agreements legal in Texas?

01/14/2016
Q. Can noncompete agreements be enforced against at-will employees in Texas?

What should we do? Employee wants to add written rebuttal to his performance review

01/12/2016
Q. We have a difficult employee who does not like criticism and always takes issue with any sort of coaching. We recently had annual performance reviews, and his manager included some things in the written evaluation that this employee takes issue with. He refused to sign the performance review and is now demanding that we place his written response in his personnel file. Do we have to include this employee’s angry diatribe in his personnel file?

Can we have a policy prohibiting employees from discussing how much they earn?

01/12/2016
Q. We have always had a policy prohibiting employees from discussing their salary or wages with co-workers. It can cause discord among employees and possibly impact morale. Is it unlawful for Minnesota employers to have such a policy?

What protections do transgender employees and applicants have in Minnesota?

01/12/2016
Q. A job applicant disclosed during the interview that she is transgender. We are concerned that hiring this person may make other employees uncomfortable. I know it is against the law for Minnesota employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Does that, however, extend to transgender individuals?
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