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Productivity / Performance

Accommodations: Use the courts’ simple factors to decide if a job function is really essential


It’s up to employers to determine which job functions are essential and which are not. When a disabled employee challenges an employer’s list of essential functions, courts generally won’t second-guess the employer if the list of functions passes muster against a few simple guidelines. When deciding whether job functions are essential, courts consider these factors:

RIF? Make sure layoff decision-makers don’t know workers’ FMLA status


Economic times remain tough, and businesses are still finding they have to cut costs to survive. And cutting costs often means looking at a possible reduction in force. In most organizations facing that difficult prospect, a team of managers has to decide where the cuts should be made and what criteria to use when making those cuts. Make sure the decision-making team doesn’t have access to information about FMLA usage …

Beware suspicious timing when taking action against employee undergoing medical treatment


Here’s another good reason to meticulously track performance: If you end up firing or demoting someone without good documentation, you may end up in court. Bad timing alone could trigger a lawsuit if the employee engaged in some sort of protected activity just before the action.

Your Best Defense: Prevention


HR Law 101: When drugs don’t seem to present a problem in a workplace, it’s easy to develop a cavalier attitude about them. That’s not very smart. Drug abuse often begins with a single offender and then spreads out ­malignantly. Experts say your best defense is to detect drug abuse when it first appears and to root it out immediately …

Michigan title company thrives on posted ‘isms’


At real estate settlement firm Title Source, President and CEO Jeff Eisenshtadt doesn’t care who’s right. He cares what is right. Around the office, Eisenshtadt has posted signs containing what he calls “isms”: They’re the words of wisdom that he expects his employees to live by—and that he uses during their evaluations.

How can HR help? 60% of workers live paycheck to paycheck


As the economic downturn trudges on, many workers are struggling with household budgets. In fact, six out of 10 recently surveyed workers said they live paycheck to paycheck. Savings rates are dropping and retirement funds are drying up. Here’s how HR can provide genuine help—without adding budget costs.

No money for promised pay raise: Now what?


Q. Do we have to conduct regular performance appraisals and give annual increases? We told a new hire that we would, but now don’t have time or money to do so.

Slouching doesn’t sit well with us: Can we discipline?


A reader of The HR Specialist Forum asks: “What can I do about a data entry employee who doesn’t sit upright? I don’t mean ordinary slouching; this guy practically lies down in his chair! I’ve offered him a new chair, but he says he’s fine. I’m in charge of safety and I’m trying to prevent an injury claim. Can we reprimand him?”

Workplace thermostat wars heat up


Goldilocks could relate. For some, offices are too hot, while others are too cold. Only half say the temp’s just right. After you’ve separated workers who battle for control of the thermostat, what’s the best way to stop flaring tempers and cold shoulders at work? Hint: Layers.

Discovered poor work while employee was on military leave? Go ahead and discipline


Employees returning from military service are entitled to come back to their old jobs, and they have other limited job protections, too. But those protections don’t mean employers can never discipline or demote employees who have been serving in the armed forces. Just make sure you’re doing so for legitimate business reasons, such as documented poor performance.