Q&A

Can job ads request U.S. work authorization?

08/11/2016
Q. Our 40-employee company advertises for jobs internationally but we aren’t able to offer sponsorship to any candidate who is not legally able to work in the United States. I realize we can’t put “Prefer U.S. citizen” on a job ad, but can we alert candidates to our requirement?

Same worker, different work: Can pay rate change?

08/11/2016
Q. Is it legal to pay a nonexempt employee to work at a company event at a lower hourly rate than what we typically pay her? The event is a conference where staff would be answering questions and giving out information.

Must we ever pay for long commuting time?

08/11/2016
Q. An employee’s workday begins at a site location, which could be an hour or more from his home. There is no other “corporate office” location. It is my understanding that travel time to work (wherever that may be) is not compensable. Is that always true? What if that first work location is a long way from home?

Under what circumstances can we demand alcohol testing? We suspect employee is impaired

07/22/2016
Q. We have been finding empty beer cans just outside our facility on a regular basis. We suspect one employee in particular since he often has slurred speech and stumbles around. We understand alcoholism is a disability, but we are fearful that he will get hurt because he is impaired. Should we ask him to submit to alcohol testing?”

What restrictions can we place on employees taking time off to vote?

07/22/2016

Q. With elections coming up we have started to think about what we can do to manage when employees are taking time to vote. Our policy says they can take time off the morning of an election. Can we ask them to go after work? Can we tell them when in the morning they can take off to vote? Can we tell them how long they can take to vote? Can we deduct pay if they take too long?

California: What wage-and-hour issues come into play when an employee telecommutes?

07/06/2016
Q. We recently started permitting one of our employees to telecommute on certain days of the week. We are concerned about tracking this employee’s hours. What wage-and-hour concerns should we consider for telecommuting employees?

Must we grant access to personnel records?

05/27/2016

Q. One of our former employees has asked to see his personnel file. Are we required to grant him access to it?

Not contesting unemployment: legal or illegal?

04/14/2016
Q. We have a challenging employee who is not really a poor performer, but is generally disliked by her co-workers. She is a gossip and games the system on our attendance policy. She seems to needlessly start minor squabbles with other employees. Recently, this employee approached HR and offered to resign if the company would agree not to fight her request for unemployment. We feel like this is a good opportunity to get rid of a problem employee without terminating her, and unemployment benefits would be a small price to pay. Is there any reason why we shouldn’t accept her resignation and agree to not challenge her unemployment claim?

Alcohol in accounting: Can we insist on testing for possibly intoxicated employee?

04/14/2016
Q. We have an employee in our accounting department who, a few times over the past month, has come to work smelling of alcohol and displaying signs of intoxication. For several years this employee was a solid performer, but lately she’s missing deadlines and has been somewhat belligerent to co-workers. We are worried about her health, of course, but also her performance and any potential liability related to her conduct while she’s under the influence. When asked by co-workers, this employee has denied having a drinking problem or being intoxicated at work. Since she’s in denial, can we ask her to submit to a test for alcohol the next time she appears to be intoxicated at work?

When do we need to deliver a final check?

04/14/2016
Q. If we decide to terminate an employee for poor performance, can we provide his final paycheck on our next regular payroll date?

Must we allow service animals at work?

04/01/2016
Q. One of our employees has requested permission to bring her therapy dog to work every day. Are we required to allow her to do this?

Can we require employees to provide advance notice that they will need FMLA leave?

04/01/2016
Q. One of our employees notified us that he will need to take leave under the FMLA. Can we require employees to give us more advance notice?

Employee gave two weeks' notice--can we just terminate him right away?

03/02/2016
Q. An employee has recently provided two weeks’ notice of his intent to resign. Can I tell the worker that he or she is not needed for the two weeks and avoid paying him for that time?

Should we acknowledge an employee's resignation with some form of written documentation?

02/12/2016

Q. If an employee resigns, do I need to get them to sign a resignation letter?

Are we allowed to discipline an employee for spouting off about political topics?

02/08/2016
Q.  With the upcoming presidential elections, political conversation among employees has become more frequent and intense. One employee in particular, whose political views are the opposite of most of the others in the office, has taken to vehemently promoting his favored candidate and that candidate’s views. Several employees have complained that this has made them uncomfortable. Can we take disciplinary action against the employee for promoting his political views? We are a private employer.
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