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


When spices, dogs and employees don’t mix, what should we do?

Q. An employee recently came to us with a unique request for a reasonable accommodation. She has a dangerous allergic reaction to paprika, and uses a service dog to warn her whenever the spice is nearby. We granted her request to bring her service dog to work. Subsequently, another employee complained that she is severely allergic to dogs. What should we do?

Are we in trouble? We just demanded that one of our employees lose weight

Q. I own a restaurant where we require the waitresses to wear revealing outfits. Recently, we placed an employee on a probationary period as a result of her having gained weight. We advised her that if she did not lose 10 pounds in 60 days, we would terminate her employment. Have we done anything illegal?

After poor-performing worker complains about e-mail, should we follow through on plans to fire?

Q. Admittedly, this is an odd-ball question. My HR department just received a complaint from an employee about risqué e-mails that some of her co-workers were trading back and forth. Coincidentally, the employee who complained is also slotted for termination because of poor performance and attendance problems. Is there any risk in terminating this employee in light of her recent complaint?

Are there other steps we should have taken before following discipline with termination?

Q. We fired one of our truck drivers after giving him a written warning about continued lateness in completing weekly logs. Should we have taken any other action prior to his termination?

Must we rehire strikers when labor dispute ends? We may want to keep replacement workers

Q. A group of our employees recently voted to strike. To ensure that our operations aren’t disrupted, we would like to hire replacement workers. When the strike ends, will we be required to reinstate the strikers?

In case of layoffs, must we offer severance and pay out accrued, unused vacation?

Q. We are in the process of reducing our staff and will need to lay off several employees. Are we required to provide severance pay to those selected for layoff? How about pay for accrued, unused vacation time?

2 small companies, 1 owner: Could we be covered by the FMLA?

Q. We are a small manufacturing company with 16 employees. We distribute our products through another company, which we also own. The distribution company has 38 employees. One of our manufacturing employees is pregnant and has asked for time off. She says she is entitled to leave under the FMLA. Is this true?

Fired right after two weeks’ notice: Must we pay?

Q. A resigning employee gave us two weeks’ notice, but we decided to terminate the employee right away instead. Are we obligated to pay the person for those two weeks he gave notice for?

How quickly must we announce health plan changes?

Q. When we make changes to our medical plan, how long do we have to get the new summary plan out to employees?

How can I do a better job of screening applicants?

Q. I constantly run into this problem: I prescreen a candidate who seems like a perfect fit for the job description. But when I send the person to the hiring manager for an interview, I’m told to keep looking for someone better. This is frustrating to the managers, the applicants and me. Any suggestions on how I can improve my screening?