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Ask the Attorney Archives

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What if a light-duty reassignment never seems to end?

Q: “An employee has experienced a work-related injury and the physician returned the employee back to work with restrictions. The restriction has resulted in the employee being on light duty beyond 90 days with no end date. The employee works in a light-duty capacity eight hours per day, but not in the position that the employee was hired for. What is the employer’s next step?” – Anonymous, Virginia

Is the way we’re handling promotions discriminatory?

Q: “For nearly every job family at my company, staff promotions are handled in a calibration meeting with senior management who discuss promotions and raises. Promotion requests are defended (if necessary) with examples of sustained high-level performance. The only job family held to a different standard of scrutiny/justification are our administrative assistants. In the case of their promotion from one level to the next, a special committee has been formed and managers come before that committee to plead their case for promoting their admin. A substantial number of requests are denied, usually with ‘she doesn’t support a senior manager’ silliness. I’ve cautioned my managers that creating this extra hurdle for promotions for a single job family is inequitable and discriminatory. Am I wrong?” – Anonymous, Washington

How do we handle this employee’s abrasiveness toward a supervisor?


Q: “Recently we acquired a new supervisor. My issue is that one of our employees is having difficulty responding to this person. She is giving this new supervisor attitude and we normally do not tolerate this. She has been sassy and there are even text messages to prove this. We have a great office culture and do not wish to lose either. What would be the best way to advise said sassy employee?” – Anonymous, Louisiana

We don’t want to terminate, so can we require retirement instead?


Q: “Can we require an employee to retire in lieu of termination? An employee has been having several significant performance issues during the performance cycle. The employee is eligible for retirement, but does not want to.” – Anonymous, Virginia

Can we legally give more work to as-needed employees than full-timers?


Q: “I have a supervisor who insists upon scheduling PRN (as-needed) employees even during a work slowdown due to a low census of patients. My concern is that she gives more work to the PRN employee than the full-time equivalent worker who also works under her. I have a vague memory that this is not only a bad idea, but also an illegal one. Is there a Colorado statute that would support the FTE employee if we need to cut hours due to a low census?” – Kathleen, Colorado

To cut costs, can we simply say, ‘Don’t come to work’?


Q: “Is it legal to ask management staff (who are exempt) to take voluntary unpaid full days off, say one or two a month, for a few months as a cost control action? My understanding is that unpaid full days off do comply with the FLSA and will not put in jeopardy the exemption status of the jobs.” – John, Ohio

How do we correct a ‘defective’ performance improvement plan?

Q: “Is a difference in date a valid reason to have a performance improvement plan rescinded? An employee received one stating that the purpose of the plan was to improve deficiencies in performance since January 2017. The plan was not indicative of the work or representative of an entire performance year. The issue is that the same employee received a merit increase in October 2016 and another in February 2017 for performing above expectations. The employee received two bonuses in the same cycle.” – Anonymous, Virginia

Can we deduct uniform costs from a final paycheck?

Q: “We are a public entity that provides uniforms to its employees. If the employee does not return the uniform, what is the rule for withholding money from the final check?” – Anonymous, Virginia

Where should we turn for state law compliance guidelines?


Q: “We have artists working in several states (Ca, N.C., Tex., N.Y., Co.) for our company. I want to make sure that we are compliant with applicable state labor laws. Two questions: 1. How can I make sure that I am not missing anything? 2. Should we create legal entities in these states, and if so, at which point?” – Jacqueline, New Mexico

Bonding time request falls during busy season–must we grant it?

Q: “An employee requested two weeks of ‘baby bonding time’ during our busy season. Do we have to approve it? Our company policies do not allow time off during our busy season. Can we authorize baby time off for a later time instead?” – Anonymous, California
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