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Q&A

Are employers liable for negligence if they hire employees with prior criminal convictions?

07/15/2015
Q. I am considering hiring a few job applicants who have prior criminal convictions on their records. Can I be liable for negligence if one of these individuals breaks the rules again?

What happens if we bounce a paycheck?

07/15/2015
Q. What are the penalties for failing to make timely payments or for issuing a paycheck that bounces under the Texas Payday Law?

How does a tip credit work with minimum wage?

07/09/2015
Q. May we count tips received by our employees, including restaurant servers, toward the payment of their minimum wage?

Should we terminate an admitted drug user?

07/09/2015
Q. Following a recent accident on our loading dock, an employee admitted he used marijuana before his shift. Afterward, the employee and the ­others involved were required to submit to a for-cause drug test pursuant to our drug testing policy. The employee who admitted being high failed the drug test. However, there was an irregularity with our testing vendor, and it was not able to complete the confirmatory re-test of the employee’s specimen. Can we terminate the employee who admitted to working under the influence of marijuana?

How should we handle news that employee previously signed a noncompete agreement?

07/09/2015
Q. We received a letter from a competitor informing us that our new employee used to work for them and is now in violation of noncompetition agreement with the competitor. What should we do?

Should we report suspected domestic abuse?

06/29/2015
Q. There is an employee within our company who repeatedly comes into work with injuries obviously suffered at the hand of her spouse. As an employer, do we have an obligation to alert authorities about at-home physical abuse of an employee?

Are we liable for food poisoning that employee suffers while working out of town?

06/29/2015
Q. We have a question regarding our crews that work out of town and stay out for about four days. Can we be held liable if they get sick on a meal that was paid for by the company? We are thinking about paying a per diem instead to resolve this issue. If an employee is working on a road crew and takes off sick and stays in motel room, are we required to supply him the meal per diem?

What rules does California mandate for employee meal breaks and rest periods?

06/26/2015
Q. I am in the process of drafting an employee handbook—specifically the section dealing with meal breaks and rest periods. What requirements or rules regarding meal and rest periods do I need to know about?

Does FMLA apply to same-sex spouses who don’t live in states that recognize same-sex marriage?

06/18/2015
Q. We have operations in South Dakota, and one of our employees there has requested FMLA leave to care for his same-sex spouse for an FMLA-qualified reason. The couple was married in Minnesota, but South Dakota does not recognize same-sex marriage. Should we grant the FMLA leave request?

Employee failed to tell us about the unsafe condition that led to her injury–can we discipline?

06/17/2015
Q: “I have an employee who told me on Monday that she was hurt on the prior Thursday. While we will certainly take care of the injury and report it and offer care, we would like to write up a disciplinary notice for her not immediately reporting both the unsafe condition that caused the injury as well as the injury itself. May we do this?” – Kary, Maryland