Are computer programmers exempt from overtime in California?

Q. Our company needs to hire computer programmers to create, maintain, and update internal software, and to develop apps to give to our clients. I have heard about a “computer workers” exception from overtime. What exactly is the exception and can I apply it to my computer programmers?

How to comply with L.A.'s new minimum wage?

Q. My company is headquartered in San Francisco, but I have several employees throughout California, including in Los Angeles. What are my obligations with regard to the new Los Angeles minimum wage ordinance?

How to handle a reference request from a subpar former employee?

Q. A former employee asked me to provide a reference to a prospective employer. While he left our company on good terms, he had lateness problems, his performance was substandard, and I was not fond of him. Can he sue me for giving him a bad reference?

Can we discipline for bad behavior at party?

Q. At our company holiday party, which was not at the workplace or during work hours, an employee told some inappropriate jokes and put an arm around a co-worker who did not appreciate it and complained. The company is aware that the employee took a leave of absence for treatment of chemical dependency and is concerned that the employee might have been drinking at the party. Can the company discipline the employee? The company would like the employee to get additional help for chemical dependency.

Do help desk staffers qualify for the FLSA's computer professional exemption?

Q. My company is switching to a new technology platform that will require many hours’ worth of IT support at the help desk level. The job must be done quickly, but we don’t have the resources to hire new staff. I’ve heard “computer people” are exempt from overtime requirements. Is that true?

How should I handle a reference request from a former employee who was less than stellar?

Q. A former employee asked me to provide a reference to his new prospective employer. While he left the company on good terms, he had lateness problems, his performance was substandard and I was not fond of him. Am I required to act as his reference? Can he sue me for giving him a bad reference?

Am I allowed to institute a tip pool?

Q. I manage a popular sports bar. May I institute a tip-pooling policy?

Is it OK to dock a nonexempt's salary if the hours just aren't put in?

Q: “We have a nonexempt salaried employee who is required to work 40 hours a week. She rarely works overtime, but when she does she gets 1.5 times her hourly rate. My question is, if she works less than 40 hours in a week, does not have any PTO left and does not make the time up, can we dock her salary?” – Maria, West Virginia

How can we prevent a workers' comp claim from an older, accident-prone employee?

Q. One of our employees is over age 70 and has had a broken foot, memory problems and a recent car wreck that caused some residual problems. Should we allow him to work? What can we do to protect ourselves from potential workers’ comp claims should he injure himself?

Can we charge administrative fees when employees create a burden on payroll?

Q: “Can the company legally assess an administrative fee to employees who have been issued a corporate credit card and have been told in writing that the card is to be used for business purposes only, yet continue using it for personal purposes? It means the accounting department must adjust their regular paycheck to deduct the monies used for personal expenses.” – MK, Oklahoma

Am I allowed to institute a tip pool?

Q. Bartenders and servers at my bar make hundreds of dollars in tips each night while our hosts, bussers and managers walk away with much less. I instituted a pooling policy to correct the injustice, but now my bartenders and servers are threatening to sue for taking their tips. Are they right?

How should I handle meal breaks and downtime when we work on a split-shift basis?

Q. I need my restaurant employees to work lunch and dinner shifts but not the two hours between when we are closed. Do I have to pay for the time they are on break between or does it qualify as a meal break?

How should I accommodate breastfeeding at work?

Q. An employee who is about to return from maternity leave wants to pump breast milk at work. She is asking for a room specifically designated for pumping, as she feels uncomfortable doing so in the bathroom or the office, and for several breaks during the day. Do I have to provide this accommodation?

Do you have guidance on résumé retention?

Q. How long do we have to retain résumés received in response a job posting? Our HR department has asked if we only have to keep those that were considered for the job or if we must keep every résumé that comes in regardless of whether we look at it.

Can employee take intermittent FMLA leave to attend her child's sporting events?

Q. An employee’s daughter has diabetes and the employee has intermittent leave to provide assistance and care for her. The employee is now using FMLA leave to attend her daughter’s field hockey games and practices, claiming she needs to be there in case of diabetic complications during athletic events. The health care certification that we received in connection with this FMLA leave request does refer to a need to provide care during “flare ups.” Do we have to continue to permit the mother to attend the games and practices as intermittent FMLA leave?
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