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Employment Law

HR must respond to physically demeaning acts

When an employee comes to HR to complain about physically demeaning behavior directed her way, pay close attention. Demeaning behavior accompanied by sexist or racist comments, for example, increases the risk that the employee will file—and win—a hostile work-environment case.

Respect the results of outside investigations into complaints

Be prepared to honor the findings of outside investigators you hire to get to the bottom of internal complaints. Accept the results and act immediately to remedy the situation.

Comments on overtime rule accepted until May 21

The clock has finally started ticking on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule raising the white-collar salary threshold to $35,308 per year.

DOL opinions on FMLA leave, volunteerism

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued new opinion letters addressing FMLA leave and compensation for employees who spend time volunteering.

Document why discipline may have differed

Before you discipline any employee, review how you handled similar situations in the past. If you decide to discipline more harshly in a new case, be sure to detail in your records exactly why.

What is a ‘public body’ for whistleblowing purposes?

Pennsylvania employees are protected from retaliation for whistleblowing involving a “public body” under the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law. But what about private employers that receive state or federal funding?

Resist temptation to act on presumptions about pregnant employees’ abilities

Some managers continue to hold outdated views on pregnancy and the capacity for a woman to work while awaiting the birth of her child. Being vocal about these views—and especially acting on them—is almost certain to provoke a lawsuit.

Lawsuit alert: Beware disciplining for infractions of seldom-enforced rules

Sometimes, supervisors get frustrated with workers they consider trouble makers because they complain all the time. Those bosses need to think twice before they retaliate by strictly enforcing work rules—especially if they have often ignored those rules in the past.

Most self-medication with marijuana remains illegal, and is grounds for discharge

A federal court has ruled that a worker’s self-administration of an illegal drug for pain relief was grounds for discharge under an employer’s drug policy.

Accommodate lactation needs of new mothers

Employers that prohibit necessary lactation breaks or who retaliate against women for trying to take breaks may violate the sex discrimination provisions of Title VII.