Q&A

Does health insurance discriminate against single or childless workers?

05/01/2007

Q. My company pays health insurance for all spouses, children and domestic partners of my co-workers. I am single and don’t have children or a domestic partner. Am I being discriminated against since they receive more benefits than I do?

Do a Passed-Over Worker's Complaints Against a New Boss Count as Harassment?

05/01/2007

Q. A more senior employee was recently passed over for a promotion because a newer employee is clearly more qualified. Now that this person is the boss, the more senior employee has filed several petty complaints against her. Although we are aware that these complaints are completely invalid, as the HR department, we have to take them seriously. But it is a shame for the new supervisor to have the complaints piling up in her file. Is this considered harassment?

Personal liability for HR professionals?

05/01/2007

Q. I know that my company can be sued by my current and former employees for its employment actions. Do I, as an HR professional, have personal liability for my participation in employment decisions?

How to discuss late hours without bringing up family obligations

05/01/2007

Q. We have a position open in our sales department for someone who will be planning and executing company-sponsored events, most of which would take place outside normal 9-to-5 working hours. Is there a way we can ask about the applicants’ family situations and make it clear that missing these events because of family obligations would not be tolerated?

Give documents to terminated employees?

05/01/2007

Q. Must I give employees copies of their reviews, terminations or disciplinary items? They are in their personnel files, but I don’t want them running to an attorney. We are not terminating or disciplining employees with any illegal intent, but these days you can never be too careful. –A.D.

Can we make smokers pay higher premiums?

05/01/2007

Q. I have to admit I am not a fan of smokers, but what really concerns me is the cost they are adding to our benefits programs. I don’t think it is fair to the nonsmokers that their costs should keep going up year after year when it's likely smokers are fueling a part of that cost. Can I make smokers pay more in premiums?—S.S.

Pay back for training costs

05/01/2007

Q. Training in our field is pretty specialized and expensive. We don’t mind investing in our employees, but want to make sure that we get the benefit of the training. We have a requirement that newly trained employees must continue to work for us for at least six months following their training, or they are required to pay back the company. Our problem is how to make sure they pay it. Can we deduct it from their last paycheck?—D.B.

Quit or fired? That's the question

05/01/2007

Q. We had an employee who was not working out. We gave her the choice of resigning or being terminated. She chose to resign. We were happy because we understand that an employee who resigns is not entitled to unemployment compensation under Texas law? Are we right?—S.G.

A genuine child-Support court order?

05/01/2007

Q. In this morning’s mail I received a letter from some group I have never heard of, asking for payroll information on an employee. The letter said, “This information is necessary to enforce court-ordered child support.” It does not say that it is a subpoena or a garnishment, and there is no court order or any kind of a waiver from the employee. I have already tossed it in the trash, but I don’t want to do something wrong. Do I need to dig it out?—S.W.

Use discipline to enforce your no-Overtime policy

05/01/2007

Q.  We temporarily allowed an hourly employee to come in early and take work home at night. We paid her for overtime on both ends. But now we’ve promoted someone else and told the hourly worker to stop coming in early and taking work home. She said she prefers working early and still does (plus she skips lunch) but reports for just 40 hours. Is she setting us up?—L.B., New York

You (not the employee) determine FMLA leave

05/01/2007

Q. At a recent FMLA seminar I attended, the speaker said that employers have the responsibility to ask employees if they want their absences applied to their 12 weeks of available FMLA leave. I understand that we can run FMLA leave concurrent with paid sick leave, but what if an employee doesn’t want to use up his FMLA leave and has other paid or unpaid leave available under our company leave policy?—J.G., Ohio

Should we give reviews to independent contractors?

05/01/2007

Q. We have several independent contractors working at our company, as well as many regular employees. We give performance reviews to regular employees, but not the independent contractors. Should we?—M.L., California

Complying with the no-Docking rules

05/01/2007

Q. We are a small company with fewer than 20 employees. While I understand the issue of paying exempt employees full salary and docking from the PTO banks when they’re absent, is there someplace that I can go to get an example of a company policy to support a 40-hour-per-week effort from each employee?—E.R., Virginia

Employee can't take FMLA leave for jail time

05/01/2007

Q. Does the FMLA apply to employees who are in jail, too?—A.B., Texas

Can we ban dating among co-workers?

04/01/2007

Q. We recently defended a workplace harassment lawsuit against our company involving two co-workers who broke up. To avoid future problems, can we impose prohibitions against co-workers dating to avoid future problems? ...