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  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
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  • The HR Weekly


FMLA: How can we be sure employee must care for her grandchild?

Q. One of our employees just took emergency custody of her grandchild after her son and daughter-in-law were arrested for child abuse. She now wants to take FMLA leave to get the child settled in and have family counseling. What kind of proof must we accept that she really has legal custody?

Does employee use of DOL ‘timesheet’ app mean we can’t ban cellphones?

Q. To curb wasted time and keep workers on task, we are banning cellphones at work. Now one of our employees has told us that she has the Department of Labor’s wage-and-hour app on her iPhone. She says she uses it to track her hours worked, and that we are illegally preventing her from using it. Will our ban hold up legally?

Is it legally risky to use facial recognition software?

Q. Management wants to install “facial recognition” software that clocks in employees by electronically matching the employee’s face to a database. Leaving aside the Big Brother creepiness, are there any legal land mines we should consider before installing this type of technology?

What should we do? Our summer intern is suddenly demanding back pay?

Q. We hired an intern for the summer. She was eager to work for free to add it to her résumé … We told her that after this week we won’t need her. That’s when she said we owe her minimum wage or she’ll complain to the Department of Labor. Do we really have to pay her?

How long must we retain personnel files?

Q. We are moving to another office and want to take this opportunity to purge outdated or unnecessary documents. How long do we have to keep our personnel files?

Can we require an employee to change shifts?

Q. Our executive director wants to change an employee’s shift. The employee does not want the change. Can we force it? 

Is a minimum wage hike on the way?

Q. Is it true that the California state minimum wage is increasing soon?

What are the rules for providing, paying for employee uniforms?

Q. We would like to require employees to pay for their own uniforms. Is this legal? If not, we would like to require employees to purchase uniforms. Then we would reimburse them. Is that OK, or must we purchase the uniforms and provide them to the employees?

Who pays for required work uniforms?

Q. We are considering instituting a uniform policy at our workplace. We would like to require our employees to pay for their own uniforms. Is this legal? Could we also require employees to maintain their own uniforms?

How risky is it to fire a pregnant employee having attendance problems?

Q. An employee has been with us for less than a year, so she isn’t yet eligible for FMLA leave. Last month she missed five days because her child had a high fever. She used available PTO for the time off. Last week, she was no-call/no-show for three days. She told the supervisor she had been hospitalized because of pregnancy complications and didn’t have access to a phone and was sedated. She provided a doctor’s note that released her to return to work, but stated that she may need to be put on bed rest. The supervisor would like to terminate her because we can’t afford to continue employing someone so unreliable. Can we do this?