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How should we calculate OT when paying bonuses based on previous performance?

Q. Our company pays monthly bonuses to hourly employees based on the previous month’s performance. When calculating overtime, should the bonus pay be included only for the weekly payroll that contains those bonuses, or does it change the overtime rate for other weekly pay periods as well?

Will proposed legislation put us on the financial hook for misclassified employees?

Q. If, according to the revised Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, we’ve been improperly classifying certain employees, do we need to go back and reimburse them? At the time, we thought they were properly classified.

Are we vulnerable to reverse discrimination claims because of our ‘early out’ program?

Q. Are there any specific rules defining “early out” retirement packages offered to employees? Our company is planning to offer early outs. Our criteria mandate that an employee must have worked for us for at least 15 years and be at least 50 years old. But we have employees who have worked as long as 28 years who fail to meet the 50-year-old criterion. Is this age discrimination in a reverse sort of way?

What are the ramifications of disclosing information during preliminary negotiations?

Q. A recently terminated employee retained an attorney, who then engaged in pre-suit negotiations with our HR vice president. During those negotiations, our VP disclosed, in writing, some confidential information about the internal investigation that led to this employee’s termination. Negotiations have since broken down and the employee filed suit. Should I be concerned about these pre-suit disclosures coming back to haunt us in the litigation?

Can we apply a use-it-or-lose-it clause to our company’s vacation policy?

Q. Our company’s employee handbook states that workers receive two weeks of paid vacation a year. Some of our employees have accrued significant amounts of unused vacation over the years. Can we require those workers to use their accrued vacation by a certain date or forfeit it?

What’s the latest information on USCIS’ new Permanent Resident Card?

On May 11, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it will begin issuing a redesigned Permanent Resident Card, commonly referred to as the “green card.” Employers should familiarize themselves with the new card by visiting the USCIS web site, as they will soon be seeing the new card presented when employees complete required Form I-9.

How to write a tough, but legal, at-will statement

Q. We want our employees to know that they don’t have guaranteed employment. Can you provide an example of a tough at-will statement that we can give them?

Worker who earned a master’s degree says she wants a raise: Must we give it?

Q. We have an employee who just earned a master’s degree. She wants a raise. Is there any legal requirement that we pay someone with an advanced degree more than other employees?

Can we fire worker suspected of raiding the till?

Q. We strongly suspect that one of our employees has been taking money out of the cash register. Whenever he is responsible for the register, there are a lot more shortages than when others work the register. Even though we can’t prove he is taking money, can we terminate his employment?

Hiring from the competition, how much should we ask about any noncompete agreements?

Q. We are considering hiring an employee away from one of our competitors. Should we ask whether she is subject to a noncompete agreement, or is it better for us to move forward not knowing the answer?