Q&A

Post-Windsor, what's the tax status of benefits for same-sex married couples?

02/05/2014
Q. In the wake of United States v. Windsor, we have extended a number of our employee benefits to same-sex married couples. Can you provide any guidance on the proper treatment of flexible spending account (FSA) expenses and health savings account (HSA) and dependent care assistance program (DCAP) contribution limits for same-sex married couples?

Can we deduct pay if workers go beyond PTO limit?

01/29/2014
Q. An exempt employee ran out of PTO at the end of 2013. I was led to believe we could dock any hours the employee took off for personal time after using all PTO. (Our policy says employees who are out of PTO can be granted personal time off without pay.) Did we handle this correctly? 

Now what? Bad former employee wants a reference

01/24/2014
Q. I received a call from an employee I recently fired, letting me know she listed me as a reference. She was terminated because of performance. Can I disclose that information to a potential employer?

Does workers' comp cover injuries an employee suffers at a work-related social event?

01/24/2014
Q. Is an employee who injures himself at a ­company-sponsored picnic eligible for workers’ ­compensation?

How far must we go to accommodate employee's need for religious days off?

01/24/2014
Q. One of our employees notified us that he cannot work on certain days of the week for religious reasons. Are we required to accommodate the employee’s request and work around his requested days off?

The evidence is on Facebook: Can we fire for inappropriate behavior while wearing our logo?

01/22/2014
Q. One of our employees recently posted a picture of himself on Facebook doing something inappropriate while wearing a T-shirt with our company logo on it. The inappropriate conduct didn’t occur at a work event, but we’re concerned that the T-shirt connects us to the conduct. We would like to fire him immediately, but we hesitate because the termination is based on his personal Facebook page.

In case of he-said/she-said harassment, can we make employees hand over text messages?

01/22/2014
Q. One of our employees was recently accused of sending sexually harassing texts to another employee. The complaining employee said she was so upset by the texts she deleted them; the accused employee adamantly denies sending the texts. Can we search the accused employee’s cellphone or is there a way to retrieve the messages from the complaining employee’s phone?

Do we have to pay for time driving between offices?

01/20/2014
Q. Some of our employees leave the office at night with supplies. Then they drive to another office the next day (40 minutes away) with those supplies. What is the correct way to pay them for this?

How much access to discipline records must we give?

01/17/2014
Q. Are we required to provide employees copies of their performance improvement plans or disciplinary action documentation? 

Misconduct caught on video: Must we show the employee the proof?

01/10/2014
Q. A client took video of one of our employees talking on the phone and swerving all over the road when driving a group of children in the course of her job. We suspended the employee. Now the employee is demanding to see the video. Must we let her?

Possible porn: Can we search computers?

01/03/2014
Q. An employee recently complained about re­ceiving inappropriate email messages and links to porno­graphic websites from some of her co-workers. We would like to review the messages to figure out exactly how large a problem we face. Can we do this?

Offer temp job to driver too injured to drive?

01/03/2014
Q. Recently, one of our delivery drivers was hurt at home and is now unable to drive. Should we offer alternative employment?

Can we withhold double the cost of unreturned equipment from employee's final paycheck?

01/03/2014
Q. Our employee handbook states, “If you do not return a piece of property we will withhold from your final paycheck the cost of replacing that piece of property.” One of our employees recently quit on the spot. My boss wants to almost double the actual replacement cost of the item. Can we do this?

Pay for voluntary training during lunch?

01/03/2014
Q. If our organization offers voluntary employee training, which takes place during lunch, do we have to pay employees for the time spent attending training?

How do California's new immigration laws affect documenting eligibility to work?

12/24/2013
Q. I have heard that the state’s new immigration laws restrict how we handle documenting an applicant’s right to work. Can you tell me more?
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