Q&A

Phone privacy: It's your property

09/01/2007

Q. Can employers eavesdrop on their employees’ phone conversations at work, or listen to their voicemail messages in the company voicemail system? ...

The long and short of it: Do different grooming policies equal discrimination?

09/01/2007

Q. We have a company policy requiring male employees to keep their hair cut short. One worker says we can’t force him to cut his hair because we don’t tell female workers to do the same. Is this true? ...

Does grooming policy interfere with religious belief?

09/01/2007

Q. Can we require a job applicant to cut his hair as a condition of employment even if he alleges that his religion forbids him from cutting his hair? ...

Must we deliver final paychecks at termination?

09/01/2007

Q. When one of our employees was fired, he demanded his paycheck on that same day. Are we required to deliver final paychecks to employees the day they quit or are terminated? —D.G. ...

Nondisabled workers earn ADA protection, too

09/01/2007

Q. I know the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives disabled employees special rights. But I read that the law also extends to employees who aren’t disabled. How is that so? —N.L. ...

Are Waivers a Cure-All for Employee Lawsuits?

09/01/2007

Q. Is obtaining a legal release from an employee in exchange for severance pay guaranteed to prevent any legal action by that person? —J.S. ...

How to draft a legal drug testing policy

09/01/2007

Q. I recently read a report that said drug use among employees actually went up in the past decade. We’re considering starting to do drug tests. What should our policy say? —L.U. ...

Quitting without notice, but getting vacation pay?

09/01/2007

Q. Recently, one of my employees quit without giving notice. I was advised that under New York labor law, I have to pay all earned and unused vacation. Is this true? If so, what can I do to prevent this from happening in the future? ...

Shorter vacation for part-Time employee?

09/01/2007

Q. Under New York law, must an employee who works part of the year be paid a prorated vacation? ...

Draft 'Last-Chance' agreements with care

08/01/2007

Q. We have a poor-performing employee who is up for discharge. The union has requested that we give him one “last chance,” and has said that it will agree to a last-chance agreement if we don’t terminate his employment now. What is the impact of a last-chance agreement? — J.R.

Ask job applicants about felony convictions, but be careful

08/01/2007

Q. We are reviewing our employment application, which includes a question about felony convictions. We have been told that we should not ask about an applicant’s arrest record. Can you explain what we can ask and what we cannot ask? We are a relatively small company, with fewer than 100 employees. — C.T.

Health insurance maintained during FMLA leave

08/01/2007

Q. We have an employee who is out on an FMLA leave of absence. Our company provides health insurance for its employees and their families, and employees pay 20% of the premium. Our employee has not paid his share of the premium. Should we cancel his health insurance? We are very nervous about doing so because the employee has a very serious health condition. — J.B.

Discipline employee who refuses to abide by safety rules

08/01/2007

Q. One of our shop employees was not wearing his safety glasses during a Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) inspection, for which the company was cited. Our company has a rule requiring employees to wear safety glasses in the plant. Were we wrongly cited? — T.B.

Georgia limits workplace rights for breast-Feeding mothers

08/01/2007

Q An administrative staff member who recently gave birth is scheduled to return to work in a few weeks. She plans to have her mother bring the baby to the office several times a day so she can breastfeed. Our office manager says that’s not going to happen. Doesn’t Georgia law give women the right to breastfeed in the workplace?

Employees' right to voting time off more limited than most realize

08/01/2007

Q Historically, we have allowed employees to take two hours off with pay on days when there are federal, state, or local elections. Our new vice president of HR says only certain employees are entitled to such leave and that it’s not paid leave. What are our obligations under Georgia law?