Q&A

Changing hours: Must we talk to the union first?

03/19/2014
Q. Our employees recently voted for a union and we are now negotiating. Our policies say full-time em­­ployee status starts at 30 hours per week. All of our full-time employees currently work 40 hours per week. We want to decrease the hours of some employees (about 25% of them) from eight to six per day. Do we have to bargain with the union on this change or can we just notify them? 

What should we tell manager who wants to ask inappropriate interview questions?

03/17/2014
Q. We have a manager who is really concerned about “fit” when we interview for his group. He wants to ask questions about hobbies, whether the candidate has a family and how that will affect the candidate’s ability to be at work. I’ve tried to explain that, due to discrimination laws, we should only ask questions based upon the job and its requirements, but he ignores me. What can I do?

How can we fire a poor performer--who up until now has earned glowing reviews?

03/17/2014
Q. We recently hired a new manager in an underperforming division. After getting to know her team, the manager wants to fire an employee for poor performance. But, the employee has only had glowing performance reviews under his previous manager. Can we go ahead with the termination?

Do we have to tolerate 'Duck Dynasty religion' hat?

03/14/2014
Q. We let a female cashier at our restaurant wear a religious head covering, despite our policy against hats. Now, a male employee has started wearing a camouflage cap, claiming his religious idol is Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.” He says his “religion” is sincere. Can we tell him to remove the cap?

Can we ask applicants about their driving records?

03/11/2014
Q. Is it lawful to ask about a person’s driving record (accidents and violations) on the job application?

Must we offer FMLA if person can no longer do the job?

03/07/2014
Q. One of our truck drivers just had a bypass operation and now has a defibrillator, which means, according to the DOT, he can no longer drive a truck. Do we still need to give this driver 12 weeks of FMLA time since he will never be able to return to work?

What employment protections do military reservists and veterans enjoy?

03/06/2014
Q. Are active duty military and veterans considered a protected class?

How are layoffs supposed to be handled when someone buys my business?

03/06/2014
Q. Do I have to follow the WARN Act if someone buys my business?

Should we pay nonexempt employees for voluntarily running office errands before work?

03/06/2014
Q. Because our office is in a residential area, mail isn’t delivered until the late afternoon. One of our secretaries volunteered to pick up the mail at the post office on her way to work every day. It’s not too far out of the way, but it does change her regular route to work. Are we required to reimburse her for the additional time, as well as mileage?

If business takes a turn for the worse, do we still have to hold job after FMLA?

02/28/2014
Q. Under Texas law, if I have an employee returning from maternity leave, do I have to give her the same job hours as before her leave? The reason for the reduction in hours is due to sales being down.

Can we ask applicant for his social media log-in info and password?

02/28/2014
Q. I am thinking about hiring someone, but would first like to check his Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts to gain a more complete picture of the candidate. May I ask the applicant for log-in and password access to his accounts?

When can we order a drug or alcohol test?

02/26/2014
Q. An employee sometimes shows up looking like he came from a party, with glazed eyes and slurred speech. Can we make him take a drug or alcohol test?

Must we hand over final paycheck, or is it OK to put it in the mail?

02/26/2014
Q. One of our employees is resigning at the end of the month. Can we mail her final paycheck?

Could manager's telecommuting ban be bias?

02/24/2014
Q. We have a bunch of employees who telework. One manager wants to follow the approach Yahoo took last year and eliminate teleworking. He believes that employees are not actually working and that their inability to see the whites of each other’s eyes is limiting their collaboration. He’s made some comments in the past that make me think he really worries that female employees are spending work time caring for their children from home. What should we do?

Noncompete agreements for new and existing employees

02/19/2014
Q. We recently merged with a smaller company, taking on several new sales people. Most of our existing sales staff are long-time, loyal employees, so we haven’t previously used noncompete agreements. However, we’re now reconsidering this. Can we ­require all of our sales staff to sign noncompetes?
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