Q&A

You can cut wages for 'Maxed Out' employees

09/01/2005

Q. We have some employees who are earning the maximum salary for their job classifications. Can we cut their pay if we feel they’re overpaid? —D.N., Colorado

Mandatory EAP referral is legal

09/01/2005

Q. In a previous issue of HR Specialist, you said that employers can’t force employees to visit a psychologist. Our Internet policy says that if we find employees accessing pornographic Web sites, they’ll receive a three-day suspension without pay and a mandatory referral to an EAP counselor. Can we require this? —A.C., Maryland

Combat tardiness with progressive discipline

09/01/2005

Q. Some of our assistants are good employees, but they’re constantly late. What can we do to get them to come to work on time? —A.A., Virginia

Retain benefit eligibility after FMLA leave

08/01/2005

Q. We understand that employees on FMLA leave don't lose investment toward retirement plans. Leave time is counted as work time. But our policy says that if employees are out for more than 30 days, their anniversary dates will change. Accrued paid-time off and vacation time will be based on the new anniversary date. Can we do this? —K.A., Connecticut

Don't punish employees for wrong drug-Test hunch

08/01/2005

Q. We suspected an employee was using drugs, so we sent him to be tested. We told him he couldn't work until the test came back in two days. The results were negative. What financial responsibility do we have? Do we owe him lost wages for those two days? —L.B., North Carolina

Break into vacation-Leave bank if sick leave is empty

08/01/2005

Q. If an employee is out sick but has already used up her sick-leave hours, can we legally subtract from her vacation time instead? —K.P., Michigan

Dangerous and Disabled: ADA's 'Direct Threat' Rule

08/01/2005

Q. One of our employees, who has diabetes, is on the road a lot tending to patients in their homes. We’ve heard that she is having trouble seeing patient charts and difficulty pricking patients’ fingers for tests. What should we do? —M.J., New Jersey

HIPAA Rules Aren't Just For Doctors and Hospitals

08/01/2005

Q. I'd like to know if our company needs something like a HIPAA form for employees to sign when we release personal information to others. Is HIPAA only for the medical field? —B.B., New York

Intermittent FMLA leave may cause inconvenience

08/01/2005

Q. We have an employee on intermittent FMLA leave who periodically faints at work, is carried away in an ambulance, is off for a few days and then returns. Her position is critical. Do we have to continue with these absences? —R.R., Massachusetts

Apply dress code evenly among sexes, within reason

08/01/2005

Q. Our company manufactures plastic tubing. Our general manager is requesting that men not wear sleeveless or tank-top shirts, due to sweat and appearance. He said women can wear them as long as their shirts are seamed. Is this legal? —C.M., Texas

Check state law before firing victim of a stalker

07/01/2005

Q. One of our female employees says her ex-boyfriend is stalking her. She hasn't been able to get a restraining order against him. We're worried that he may show up and do her or other workers harm. Can we fire or suspend her? —B.L., Florida

Attack tardiness with progressive discipline

07/01/2005

Q. Several of our assistants are constantly late. What can we do to get them to come to work on time? —A.A., Virginia

Should you return pirated software to a fired employee?

07/01/2005

Q. We terminated an employee after we caught him downloading software and movies onto his own CDs and DVDs. After he left, we found discs that contained copied movies in his desk. Now he's asking for his belongings back. Are we required to return the discs? —D.V.

Banning male employees' long hair is OK

07/01/2005

Q. Can we require male employees' hair be a certain length, or is that discrimination? Also, can we say male employees can't have beards? —C.H., Illinois

Don't require employees to visit a psychologist

06/01/2005

Q. Can we require an employee to receive psychological counseling or treatment if his behavior has become a hindrance to his job performance? —N.M., Kansas