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Employment Law

Consistent policy, smart response get you off the hook for retaliation

Barbara von Gunten’s job as an environmental health aide forced her to spend most of the year in a two-person boat collecting water samples. She accused her boat mate of sexual …

Keep age out of mix when deciding who gets education benefits

Dan Esberg wanted to cash in on his company’s educational assistance program. The company paid Esberg $16,000 for his bachelor’s degree after he had turned 50. But when Esberg decided to …

Don’t assume whether or not workers can pass job tests

Jade McKenzie never had a negative job review in 10 years with the county sheriff’s department. Then came a psychological meltdown prompted, in part, by post-traumatic stress related to childhood sexual …

State may trump your CBA on family leave.

Under Oscar Mayer’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), paid sick leave doesn’t start until at least the fourth day of absence. But Wisconsin’s labor department says that under the state’s family leave …

Confidentiality rules protect EAP counselors

Employee assistance program (EAP) counselors are covered by the same privilege of confidentiality that’s granted to licensed psychotherapists, says the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is the first time …

What equals a disability under the ADA? Supreme Court to rule

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to tackle the vexing question of just how serious an impairment has to be before it’s protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Courts …

Exemption for computer staff only covers highly skilled

The Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime exemption for computer professionals is narrower than some employers assume, and high-tech employee groups are spreading the word. To be exempt from overtime pay …

Court gives green light to arbitration; but proceed with caution

Don’t believe everything you’re hearing about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision supporting arbitration in employment contracts. True, it gives you more freedom to require employees to settle disputes via …

‘Downtime’ pay: When to pay for travel, rest, on-call time

It’s a deceptively simple concept: You have to pay nonexempt employees for every hour they work. But employers often trip over interpretation of that law when it comes to exceptions such …

Dress code can differentiate among workers’ positions


Q. Can we set a dress code policy that bars visible tattoos and multiple piercing on our receptionist but not other workers who have less public contact? —D.O., Maryland