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Q&A

What to do about repeated harassment claims that always turn out to be unfounded?

08/01/2019
Q. We have an employee who has complained multiple times that she’s been sexually harassed. Each time we investigate, no one will back up her stories. Can we tell her to stop complaining?

Can we make pay raises contingent on doing charitable volunteer work?

07/30/2019
Q. Our new CEO believes in volunteering and wants to institute a new requirement that all employees volunteer at least five hours per month to be eligible for pay increases at evaluation time. She wants to provide a list of appropriate places to volunteer. Can she do this?

How rigid can our dress code be about imposing grooming standards?

07/30/2019
Q. Can we require male employees to keep their hair short? Also, can we require male employees to shave their beards?

Must we pay this summer intern?

07/02/2019
Q. We are short-handed this summer and it’s really hard to get employees right now. We want to offer an internship to a college student to help us out. She would gain experience and if she can work it out with her advisor, maybe she can get college credit. Do we have to pay her?

What should we do? Two no-show/no-call situations were treated differently

06/11/2019
Q. We have a strict rule against not calling in before a missed shift to report an absence. We require workers to make that call at least one hour before the shift is to start, unless they cannot do so due to an emergency. Otherwise we mark the absence as unexcused. Recently, an employee went to the emergency room and couldn’t make the call because she could not get cell service where she was and was undergoing triage treatment. We didn’t hold her to the rule. Now another employee, who heard from the first employee that she was excused, is complaining she’s being treated unfairly, but her situation was not the same. What do we do?

Any risk of not reducing demoted worker’s pay?

06/10/2019
Q. We moved a salaried supervisor to a rank-and-file hourly position, but we left him at the higher salary. Now, several co-workers are complaining that they’re being paid less for the same job and grumbling about discrimination. The co-workers are of different nationalities than the former supervisor. Should we raise the co-workers’ salaries if we want to be as cautious as possible to avoid a lawsuit?

Pay for time spent in disciplinary meeting?

06/06/2019
Q. Last week, we asked a worker to come in early to discuss a complaint about her work that had come to our attention. We issued her a written warning. We did not pay her for the approximately 30 minutes we spent with her before she was scheduled to come in to work. Now, she’s threatening a wage-and-hour complaint. Did we make a mistake?

Is it possible to discipline for body odor?

05/16/2019
Q. We have several employees who apparently don’t use deodorant and have very offensive body odor. What can we do to get them to clean up their act? Can we discipline them? Our dress code does specify that all employees shall practice good hygiene.

What is the latest information on running FMLA leave concurrently with other leave?

04/30/2019
Q. We don’t have a policy on using FMLA leave concurrently with other leave. Therefore, sometimes employees will ask to use up their paid leave first and then use unpaid FMLA leave. This seems to occur most often with maternity leave, as some new mothers like to have extra time off. Of course, we know about the need for FMLA leave since we know the employee is pregnant. We’ve heard that the DOL now requires us to run leave concurrently. Is this true?

Cooperative dialogue versus interactive accommodations process

04/24/2019
Q. I’m a New York City employer. One of my workers recently requested a copy of the decision to deny her an accommodation. She says she’s entitled to a copy of the cooperative dialogue decision. Do I have to give her something in writing?