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Employment Law

Giving a bonus can cost you in discrimination case

Lisa Russell was rated “excellent” and received a bonus of $807. So what’s her gripe? An African-American co-worker received a higher rating of “outstanding” and a bonus of $1,355. Russell, who …

Workers feel threatened …?

Nearly half of black workers say they have experienced workplace discrimination, and nearly a quarter of women employees say they have been sexually harassed on the job, according to a new …

Sweeten Deal to Retain Worker After Training


Q. We just covered the entire cost for an employee to complete nurses’ aide training. We intended to draw up an agreement before the training so that this employee would be available to our business for six months before she could seek other employment, but we failed to discuss the agreement before the training. Can we have her sign such an agreement now? —C.E., Ohio

Weigh Cost Before Denying Accommodation Request


Q. An employee we hired a couple weeks ago through a temporary agency (he is on their payroll) has just told us that he is Muslim and can’t work on Fridays. During the interview, he was asked whether anything would prohibit his working a proposed schedule that specifically included Fridays for the next 30 days. He said no, and this is in writing. He did not mention this problem until he had already been working for a week or two. Can we let this guy go? —M.R., South Carolina

Raise Doesn’t Prove Employee Was Succeeding


Q. About three months ago, we gave a marginal employee who is pregnant a pay raise in hopes that it would improve her job performance by boosting her morale. Unfortunately, her performance has gone from bad to worse. If we fire her for poor performance, can she successfully argue that the recent raise indicates that she was performing well and that our reason for terminating her was discriminatory? —H.K., Illinois

Test before deciding on employee’s limits

Shirley Hoffman was a whiz at her indexing job at Caterpillar Inc. She moved faster than almost anyone, even though she was born without a left arm below the elbow. Several …

Keep staff on site, but off clock, during meals

Corrections officers in Pima County, Ariz., couldn’t run out to Burger King at lunch. During their half-hour lunch break, they were relieved of their duties but still had to stay on …

Don’t let blabbing employees hide their identity on the Internet

Imagine that an employee posts confidential information about your company on an Internet message board. What do you do? One company sued the message-board site to learn the identity of the …

Once you accommodate disabled, proving ‘hardship’ gets tougher

When Larry Skerski began working as a cable technician, about half his job involved climbing ladders, poles and towers. But a decade into his job, he developed a panic disorder when …

Small, but vital, function of a job may make it ‘essential’ under ADA

Job descriptions at Northern States Power Co. make it an “essential function” for customer service reps to handle emergency calls like gas leaks and downed power lines. Loretta Emerson handled …