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  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
  • The HR LAW Weekly
  • The HR Weekly


Between honesty and discretion, what’s the best approach to reference requests?

Q. I have a question about providing honest feedback during reference requests. Is it better to defend the fact that I provided a truthful (negative) assessment, rather than trying to explain why I can’t give any reference at all? Aren’t we protected by negligent-referral and reference-immunity laws?

Can we terminate a poor performer who is currently out on FMLA leave?

Q. Our receptionist has a history of being late for work and taking unexcused absences. She’s out on FMLA leave to care for her sick father. Her temporary replacement is doing an outstanding job and always shows up on time. Can we keep the new receptionist and tell the other one not to return?

Could he sue us? Employee was fired after he injured himself on the job

Q. A replacement line supervisor directed an employee in our plant to use a machine he wasn’t trained to operate. The employee was injured when he stuck his hand into the machine to clear a jam. While the employee was recuperating in the hospital, the plant supervisor fired him for operating machinery he hadn’t been trained on. Does the employee have a right to sue us if the line supervisor ordered him to do this job?

May we check an employee message sent from work to his personal e-mail?

Q. One of our sales managers thinks a salesperson has been e-mailing confidential customer information to his personal e-mail address. Can we review the salesperson’s sent-messages file on the company’s e-mail server to see what he has been sending out?

Can we use GPS cell phones to track employees without telling them?

Q. Our employees have company-issued cell phones with global positioning systems capabilities. Can we use the GPS to track employees’ movements without telling them we are doing so?

Are there privacy concerns when I use social media to check out applicants?

Q. Am I invading applicants’ privacy by reviewing their Facebook, MySpace, blogs and Twitter feeds?

Am I allowed to check social media web sites for information on job applicants?

Q. Is it OK for me to consider information about a job applicant that I learn by using Google, viewing Facebook pages and reviewing Twitter feeds?

Can we discipline exempt workers for attendance?

Q. We require all employees to be in by 9 a.m. One of our exempt employees is constantly late. Can we discipline exempt employees for poor attendance?

How much can tip credits offset our minimum wage obligations?

Q. We have always paid our waiters less than the minimum wage because of the tips they earn. Are we permitted to count tips as part of the minimum wage as long as we notify our employees of this practice and their actual tips equal or exceed the tip credit?

What are our obligations for notifying workers and government officials about a big layoff?

Q. Due to the economy, we are considering shutting down our business. Are we required to give advanced notice to our employees?