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Ask the Attorney Archives

Does time in alcohol rehab count for FMLA leave?

Q. If an employee is admitted to a nonmedical facility for alcohol addiction, can this leave qualify under FMLA. If so, what documentation is acceptable? Can a letter from the facility be substituted for medical documentation? – Kathryn, New York

What’s the law on accommodating breastfeeding mothers?

Q. I would like to confirm that the state of Georgia allows but does not require employers to accommodate breastfeeding mothers when they return to work. Does the federal law so require? Jenny, Georgia

If pregnant employee quits job to have her baby, can she claim FMLA leave and try to return?

Q. Our company has had several employees (who are eligible for FMLA) decline the FMLA leave and provide notice that they are quitting. Often this is due to pregnancy and the employees say they do not intend to return to work after the birth of their child. What happens if the employee changes her mind and decides she would like to return to work within 12 weeks? Are we obligated to honor FMLA or to return the employee to her job? – Mike, Virginia

Does New Jersey law allow for paternity leave and benefits?

Q. Does New Jersey offer benefits payable to mothers and fathers who take off to bond with a child under the Family Leave Insurance Act? I have heard of maternity leave but I am not sure of paternity leave? – Anonymous, New Jersey

Employer has stopped paying taxes to the IRS, what now?

Q. My employer has been experiencing severe financial instability in the last several months. The taxes for our June, July, August and now the first check of September have not been paid. They’ve been withheld from our paychecks, but the payments & filings have not been done with the IRS. We also lost our health insurance back to May 12, even though premiums were deducted from our checks. What is our legal recourse against the employer for these violations? – SRJ, Texas

Can we ask job applicants about their allergies?

Q. In a hiring interview, is it lawful to ask a candidate if they have a particular allergy to something that they will come into direct contact with on a daily basis and could be life-threatening to them? Specifically allergies to nuts/peanuts in a private daycare situation. We’ve discovered that with some folks exposure to even the smell of peanuts or peanut butter is life-threatening to them, even when they have an EpiPen with them at all times. — Anonymous, Virginia

Exempt worker departs on a Monday: Must we pay for the full week?

Q. If an exempt employee gives us a two weeks’ notice on a Friday and we decide to let him go as of Monday, is there any obligation to pay him for the full week since he did give notice? Can we consider this his last week of work and only pay him for Monday? – Terry, California

Employee went AWOL during the day; can we dock his pay?

Q. We discovered that one of our employees has been leaving his scheduled shift for abouit one to two hours at a time, not punching out during that timeframe and returning to clock out at the end of his shift. We are going to terminate this employee. I was wondering if we have any recourse of trying to get money/wages back from him, since he technically was stealing from us? – Jenny, Minnesota

How should we pay our independent contractors?

Q. At our private school, we have several outside contractors who come in after school hours (during aftercare hours) to offer karate, dance classes, etc. We have been having parents write the checks directly to the contractors. Does that open the school up to any liability? Is it best to have the parents write the checks to the school and then we can write the contractor a check for the full amount? — Lisa, Virginia

Can we require employees to work weekends?

Q. Our (medical) office is open seven days a week and 11 hours on weekdays. We rotate our staff so all hours are covered, even if each employee works 40 hours a week only. Recently, our regular weekend person left. Management wants to rotate all employees to cover weekend duties.  Some refuse for reasons like: church, family, health, or even saying that when they were hired years ago, they were not told that they had to do weekend duties. Is it legal for us to impose the weekend duties as part of their job to cover the days we are open? – Operations Manager, Florida