ASK THE ATTORNEY

How do we best comply with and support the Wounded Warrior program?

04/27/2015
Q: “We received a request to provide an internship to a participant of the Wounded Warrior program. The paperwork said that this person is still on active duty, being paid by his branch of service (medical insurance included), and due to be medically discharged later this year. We don't have an internship program in place (we are a machine shop under ITAR regulation). Besides following the advice of drafting an intern policy and making sure this person is not replacing an employee, should we put a time limit on this internship? Should we follow the same screens we do for paid employees (background checks, drug tests, I-9 compliance)? We do want to participate in this opportunity to help someone train and transition to a civilian career, but we want to make sure that we are doing it correctly.”  – Nora, Wyoming

Can we discipline an employee for failing to alert us to what led to her injury?

04/27/2015

Q: “I have an employee who told me on Monday that she was hurt on the prior Thursday. While we will certainly take care of the injury and report it and offer care, we would like to write up a disciplinary notice for her not immediately reporting both the unsafe condition that caused the injury as well as the injury itself. May we do this?” – Kary, Maryland

No possible accommodations for an injured employee--now what?

04/20/2015

Q: “One of our drivers was in an accident with a company vehicle and hurt his wrist and now has permanent lifting restrictions. Our drivers need to be able to lift 90 lbs., but this driver can no longer lift this required weight and there are no accommodations we can make to help him lift this amount. We want to do what is right for our employee, but he doesn't have the job skills for other company positions. What process should we follow to make sure we are complying with all the requirements in dealing with this situation?” – Joel, Pennsylvania

Do Oklahoma employees have the right to see their personnel files?

04/16/2015

Q: “I have read various statements concerning employees in the state of Oklahoma having the right to see their own personnel files. Is this at the employer’s discretion, or do they have a right by law?” – Marchia, Oklahoma

Swapping benefits for pay: Is it legal?

04/13/2015

Q: “Is it acceptable for a company to negotiate with employees, on a case-by-case basis, for the company to provide higher salary in exchange for the employee not taking benefits that the company pays 100% for (such as life insurance, AD&D, STD and LTD)?” – Ed, Virginia

How do we go about reimbursing employee cellphone costs?

04/13/2015

Q: "Per our policy, we give all exempt employees a cellphone reimbursement of $80.00 per month. Does it matter if the cellphone bill/statement is in the employee’s name, or can it be in another family member’s name if they are in a family plan?" - Judy, Missouri

We want to call an employee who's out on leave--must we pay for that time?

04/13/2015

Q: “When an exempt salaried employee is on either paid leave or taking leave without pay, do we need to compensate this person if we need to contact him by phone in the event of a business emergency?” – Janet, North Carolina

Where does this employee's injury fall in the gray area of what's eligible for workers' comp?

04/13/2015
Q: “We allow our managers to work remotely from home and to only report to the office once or twice per week. One of our managers spent the night with a friend, did some work on her laptop there the next morning, and then got into a car accident on her way from the friend's home to the office to pick up some paperwork. Would this accident qualify for workers’ comp or not? She wasn't traveling from home to work, but she also wasn't traveling from work site to work site (in my opinion).” – Janet, North Carolina

Should we go to ICE with questionable documents found during a self-audit?

03/23/2015
Q: “While conducting an annual self-audit of employee files and I-9 compliance, I have encountered some questionable documents that I believe to be fraudulent. If I contact an ICE agent to verify these documents, will this then trigger a company wide ICE audit?” – Santana, Texas

Must we give an employee a copy of his drug screen results?

03/09/2015

Q: “I have an employee requesting a copy of his pre-employment drug screen results. It was a negative read, and he was hired. Do I have to provide him a copy?” – Angela, North Carolina

When an employee breaks our travel policy, must we pay for the trip?

03/02/2015

Q: “If an employee violates the written travel policy regarding purchasing plane tickets, can we refuse to reimburse them?” – Rochelle, Florida

At what point can we terminate an employee during a prolonged medical leave?

03/02/2015

Q: “We have an employee who has been on workers’ compensation for nine months. He has requested that his fractured ankle be operated on. Our HR associate wants to terminate him on the grounds that after the operation he would have been on FMLA for over a year. We realize the employee would still be carried by our insurer. Can we legally terminate an employee on workers’ compensation after a year’s medical leave?” – Vincent, Louisiana

Disabled employee wants to do more than we feel comfortable with--can we refuse?

03/02/2015

Q: “Is it disability discrimination to keep an employee from performing job duties listed on the job description?” – Anonymous, California

Have we been remiss in not reporting injuries to the state?

03/02/2015

Q: “I am relatively new to my job as human resources manager in this facility. I was asking the person who used to handle workers’ compensation claims before I was hired how we were handling them. He stated that for injuries, we have employees use their BCBS coverage. If there are out of pocket expenses, we reimburse them. He stated we do this for two reasons: First, we are fully self-insured, and second, because the injury has never been severe enough to warrant an insurance claim. I am not comfortable with this procedure at all. Is it acceptable to handle claims this way?” - Dorothy, Michigan

The DOL is investigating us! How much are we entitled to know?

02/16/2015

Q: “Our organization just underwent a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation. When the investigator was leaving, I asked her if I would ever know why we were being investigated and she told me no, I would not. Is this investigation and the final report anything that I can request through the Freedom of Information Act? During our investigation the name of a company very similar to ours kept popping up in the questioning. I actually asked if they were investigating us by mistake. The investigator just smiled, then asked another question … – Gina, Michigan

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