Q&A

If a new employee leaves in short order, is there a way to recoup training costs?

09/02/2014
Q. Can we require employees to repay the company (through payroll deduction) for training costs if they quit or are fired within one year?

What must I do about employee's wage garnishment to collect on credit card debt?

09/02/2014
Q. One of my employees recently notified me that a judgment had been levied against him on a suit to collect an unpaid credit card debt. A Texas court has issued the judgment, and I understand the judgment creditor may seek to satisfy it by garnishing my employee’s wages. What am I required to do?

Do I have to grant leave for employees who have been summoned or subpoenaed?

09/02/2014
Q. A few of my employees have been summoned to appear in court for jury duty service and to act as witnesses in trials. Is there any way that I can prohibit them from serving? And if I can’t, am I required to pay them during their service?

How should we comply with laws concerning expressing breast milk at work?

09/02/2014
Q. One of my employees recently gave birth and has asked me about the company policies regarding expressing breast milk in the workplace. What are the federal and state laws that I should consider for my policies?

How long to retain employment records?

08/29/2014
Q. I recently discharged some of my employees. How long must I retain their employment records? Are there different rules for electronic records versus paper ones?

If fired employee was truly awful, do I still have to give him final wages?

08/29/2014
Q. I just fired one of my employees for his constant tardiness. Because it is currently in the middle of a pay period, the employee has some wages due to him. When must I pay him these wages, and am I even required to pay him? I mean, I did fire him for being a terrible employee.

Are we courting trouble by denying accommodations to pregnant employees?

08/18/2014
Q. Since pregnancy does not qualify as a disability under the ADA, our company denies all special accommodation requests granted by otherwise healthy employees who are pregnant. Does this policy make us vulnerable to a lawsuit?

Does our automatic termination policy expose us to liability for ADA violations?

08/18/2014
Q. Our company has a leave-of-absence policy that states that any employee on leave longer than 12 months will be terminated. Our company’s leadership insists on this policy out of what they call business necessity. Are we opening ourselves up to risk?

Must we pay employees for unauthorized overtime when they check their messages?

08/18/2014
Q. We frequently have employees turn in time sheets with unapproved overtime—time they spend checking emails and voice mails. Do we have to pay em­­­­ployees for this time even though we have a workplace policy that prohibits unapproved overtime work?

Are we liable for male-female pay disparities?

07/31/2014
Q. The company that I own has been in business since 1930. We recently performed an assessment of positions and salaries and discovered that our male executives are paid higher salaries than female counterparts. Are we liable for any unfair business practices?

How far can I go to ban guns at work?

07/31/2014
Q. As the owner of a Texas company, I want to institute a policy that strictly forbids employees from bringing guns to work—both into the office building and in the parking lot outside. Can I legally draft such a policy?

What employee thresholds trigger need for notification of plant closings?

07/31/2014
Q. I am the owner of several industrial facilities, but recent financial crises have forced me to have to shut down two of these plants. These closings and subsequent layoffs will affect about 600 employees. Am I re­­quired to notify the employees before laying them off?

Can we limit our applicant pool to U.S. citizens?

07/29/2014
Q. Is it legal to hire only U.S. citizens and, when advertising, say that people must be citizens to apply?

Can sick leave hours count toward overtime?

07/25/2014
Q. Last week, one of our hourly employees was out sick on Monday, but she worked a total of 40 hours from Tuesday through Friday. She would like to use her sick leave from Monday and claim overtime for those Monday sick-day hours. Must I pay her overtime for her Monday hours?

Am I allowed to search a worker's backpack?

07/23/2014
Q. One of my workers brought a backpack into work today that I have reason to believe contains illegal substances. The worker stored the bag in his company-provided locker. Can I search his belongings?
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