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David B. Ritter

Sick-day details on company calendar: Too risky?


Disclosing on a company calendar that an employee is out because of sickness or FMLA leave is problematic. An employer should never disclose that absences are due to medical or health reasons. You must maintain the confidentiality of such information.

How to establish a sexual harassment defense?

Q. We have several 16-year-old girls working as servers in our restaurant. One worker’s mother told us about alleged harassment. Can we rely on our training for our defense?

After military leave, is employee due merit raise?


Q. One of our employees was on military leave for six months. He will be reinstated at the same pay and position. While he was gone, all employees in his department received a 4% pay raise in recognition for their hard work in the past year. Must we pay him that raise?

Surveillance video law: How do we comply?


Q. We have surveillance cameras in several locations in our workplace that record activity, but no sound. The images can be viewed over the Internet by supervisors and HR personnel who have the password to the site. What should our privacy and electronic communications policy say about access to the camera feed?

How do we pay hourly staff for out-of-town travel?


Q. I need to send a nonexempt employee to training for two days out of town. We’ll pay his mileage, hotel, meals and training costs. We plan to pay him for a normal eight-hour workday for both days … Do we have to pay for off-duty hours since the employee needs to stay at the training venue?

What to do? Breastfeeding breaks have turned into major workplace interruptions


Q. As required, we provide milk-expression breaks. However, a new mother on our staff is having her mother, who cares for the newborn, bring in the baby twice a day to nurse. It would be OK if she just nursed and then sent grandma and baby home. But these breaks are taking 30 minutes or more as co-workers admire and play with the baby. Can we just tell her to express and refrigerate the milk?

Is this asking for trouble? Our sick policy requires a doctor’s note containing a diagnosis

Q. Our policy states employees must provide a doctor’s note if they take sick leave of three or more days. Are we violating any laws by demanding the doctor’s note, which includes a diagnosis?

Must we employ someone with allergies?


Q. We recently hired someone we didn’t know has a severe allergy to peanuts. If she even smells peanut butter, she has a severe allergic reaction, requiring her to use an EpiPen and head to the emergency room. Could we have refused to hire her if we had known about her allergies?

Looking back at Wal-Mart decision, 7th Circuit limits class actions

If a recent 7th Circuit case is an indication, courts are taking a close look at whether groups of plaintiffs have enough in common to constitute a valid class. It may mean that em­­ployers will face fewer large class-action lawsuits.

Do we have to tolerate threats from bipolar worker?


Q. After an employee threatened a co-worker with violence, we gave her a warning. When she did it again, she told her boss she was bipolar and going through a prescription change. She was unaware she made the comments. Do we have to tolerate this behavior now that we know she may be disabled?