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Employee Relations

Staring can be sexual harassment

Assembly-line worker Michelle Birschtein complained to her foreman when a forklift driver made sexual remarks to her. The driver never spoke to her again, but he did stare at her, five …

Lack of company policy turns TV into $100,000 issue

Are prizes employees win on company time the property of the company or the employee? That issue erupted when Kenneth Byrne, a manager at a used car dealership, won a raffle …

Court upholds workers’ right to bring co-worker to meeting

A federal appeals court has upheld a controversial labor rule that gives employees the right, even in nonunion workplaces, to bring a co-worker along with them during an investigative meeting …

When threats loom, follow officials’ advice


Q. In light of the recent anthrax attacks, we are concerned about the potential health risks to our employees from handling incoming mail—and the potential legal risks to us. What should we be doing to protect them and ourselves? —V.B., Ohio

Off-Duty Parties Sometimes Carry Liability


Q. A recent sexual harassment complaint reported the conduct of management employees at a private party. The party was outside the normal workday and wasn’t sponsored by the company. What is the company’s liability? —W.S., Wisconsin

‘Paid time off’ bank
avoids sick-leave policing

Q Our policy grants workers five sick days per year. Should we make sure employees aren’t using these days for other purposes? —T.W., Maryland

Morale, Not Law, Dictates Social Obligations


Q. We’ve traditionally sponsored a holiday cruise for our Virginia employees (mainly executives and directors). But the cost will be prohibitive if we include our newest employees, who are spread across three neighboring states. Can we sponsor different events for staff in each geographical area? —W.S., Virginia

Worker’s outburst wins NLRA protection

Disciplining an employee who protests working conditions at your company will put you at risk of being charged with an unfair labor practice, even if you’re a nonunion employer. Case in …

Don’t pull punches; fire when necessary

The Cook County, Ill., Sheriff’s Department fired Harriet Rizzo when it discovered that she didn’t have a high school diploma as required, and she had lied about it on her job …

Don’t leave victim in doubt about response to harassment

It started innocently enough. After Romelia Frazier’s car was stolen, she rode to work for several months with another Delco employee, Bester Spears. He had just divorced a woman who had …