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Q&A

Body Odor: Clear the Air Over Staff Dress Code

02/01/2001

Q. In the December 2000 issue, you discussed the topic of employees with body odor. We also have a staff member with body odor so bad that other staff members have complained and even threatened to leave the agency. The employee has been disciplined several times and required to go home without pay until she agrees to comply with the dress code. At what point can we legally terminate her? —A.S., Michigan

New schedule legal, barring contract or illegal reason

02/01/2001

Q. Our company of 15 employees manufactures labels in California. We have an employee whom we want to move from the day shift to the swing shift. Although this employee has the most seniority, he has the least experience with the presses we run during the day. When we told the employee of our plans, he said that moving him would be illegal. Is he correct? We are worried that if we move him and he quits, it won’t be the last time that we hear from him. —T.R., California

Check state law for drug testing policy

02/01/2001

Q. Is drug testing permitted under Maryland law? —L.R., Maryland

Tally up payroll to find out if Title VII covers you

12/01/2000

Q. We have about 15 employees, many of whom work part time. A former employee filed a charge of discrimination against the company under Title VII. We don’t think our company is covered by Title VII because we don’t have 15 workers scheduled to work in most weeks. Do you think the case could be dismissed with that argument? —R.B., Texas

Cut legal risk during layoff

12/01/2000

Q. In recent months, a sharp decline in revenue has forced us to consider downsizing. What are the legal risks associated with a layoff and how can we minimize them? —L.C., Hawaii

Weigh the pros, cons of mediating disputes

12/01/2000

Q. Do you recommend mediation for resolving employment disputes? —N.B., Minnesota

Worker’s body odor requires prompt diplomacy

12/01/2000

Q. We have an employee with an increasing body odor problem. The problem is so bad that co-workers are complaining about having to interact with her. We need to discuss the problem with the employee. Are there any legal issues that we need to be concerned about? —T.M., Texas

Test for illegal drugs OK under ADA

11/01/2000

Q. Our company wants to begin screening applicants for illegal drugs. Can we make job offers conditional on the results of a drug test? —K.P., Louisiana

Iron out union, legal issues

11/01/2000

Q. We have an apparent conflict between our union agreement and our responsibility to maintain a harassment-free workplace. The agreement says we must give the shop steward 48 hours’ notice before dismissing a regular employee. But we have proof positive that two employees have been harassing—and continue to harass—African-American and gay employees. The two harassers have just caused us to lose a good employee who couldn’t take it any longer. What trumps what? —J.V., Louisiana

Avoid time sheets for independent contractors

11/01/2000

Q. Does asking independent contractors to complete a time sheet jeopardize their independent contractor status? —P.M., Washington, D.C.