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  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
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Are noncompete agreements legal in Texas?

Q. Can noncompete agreements be enforced against at-will employees in Texas?

What should we do? Employee wants to add written rebuttal to his performance review

Q. We have a difficult employee who does not like criticism and always takes issue with any sort of coaching. We recently had annual performance reviews, and his manager included some things in the written evaluation that this employee takes issue with. He refused to sign the performance review and is now demanding that we place his written response in his personnel file. Do we have to include this employee’s angry diatribe in his personnel file?

Can we have a policy prohibiting employees from discussing how much they earn?

Q. We have always had a policy prohibiting employees from discussing their salary or wages with co-workers. It can cause discord among employees and possibly impact morale. Is it unlawful for Minnesota employers to have such a policy?

What protections do transgender employees and applicants have in Minnesota?

Q. A job applicant disclosed during the interview that she is transgender. We are concerned that hiring this person may make other employees uncomfortable. I know it is against the law for Minnesota employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Does that, however, extend to transgender individuals?

Could yelling at the boss be an ADA disability?

Q. One of our employees recently shouted at his supervisor, and in doing so violated a work rule. In the course of counseling and disciplining—but not discharging—this employee stated for the first time that he has a disorder which might have caused his conduct. May we still discipline this employee?

Is there any requirement to pay a special premium to employees who must work on holidays?

Q. This came up last month. We needed some of our employees to work during the holidays. Were we required to pay them extra for those days?

What are the limits on hours that school-age children can work in California?

Q. We would like to employ some high school students to do clerical work. What are the laws regarding the number of hours we can ask them to work?

Can we require employees to pay for the portraits we display on our website?

Q. I have a professional photographer come in on each employee’s first day of work to take photos for our company’s website. I ask each employee to pay half the cost of this service. A new employee is refusing to pay half the cost of his photos. Can I force him to pay?

Age-discrimination worry: Is it legal to ask 63-year-old about his retirement plans?

Q. We have a long-time employee who will accumulate the necessary points under our retirement program to become fully vested in his retirement benefit on his next birthday, which is in April. At that time, the employee will be 63 years old. He has not talked about how long he intends to continue working or his plan for retirement with our management team, which is concerned about having enough time to transition the employee’s work in the event that he abruptly retires. Can we ask this employee about his retirement plans without creating a claim of age discrimination? (Of course, the employee is also having performance issues, and management would prefer that he retire upon vesting in the retirement program.)

Can we fire employees we just learned are registered sex offenders?

Q. Management wants to implement a zero-tolerance policy with respect to employing registered sex offenders. Recently, we conducted an internal investigation and determined that three current employees are registered sex offenders. Management wants to terminate those employees immediately. Is that legal?