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  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
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What happens next? An alleged harassment victim doesn’t want to come forward

Q. An employee confided in a regional VP that their boss had invited a co-worker to have a drink in his hotel room while they were attending a conference. When she declined, the boss became angry. Now, the boss has reported the co-worker for leaving work early without permission. The employee doesn’t want anything bad to happen to her friend, but she can’t let this go without telling someone. The co-worker refuses to come forward herself out of fear of retaliation. What should we do?

Can we legally give extra vacation time to certain workers; and must we pay for unused days?

Q. Our company policy states that we give one week of paid vacation after one year of employment and two weeks of vacation after two years. But some employees when hired have been given two weeks of paid vacation right away. Is this legal and proper? Also, are we required to pay for unused vacation time upon termination or resignation?

Medical records for past employees: Should we retain them? If so, how long?

Q. Is there any reason to keep old medical files on past employees? Usually the info in the medical files is whether they’ve had a TB test, typical paperwork on physicals, or return-to-work information after pregnancies or injuries.

Exempt employees and time clocks: How closely can we monitor their hours?

Q. Can we use a time clock for exempt employees? If not, how can we have a record of their hours worked? 

Co-worker violence blamed on psychological disability: Can we ask for a medical certification?

Q. An employee of ours accused a co-worker of threatening him with physical harm. When we confronted the accused employee, he attributed the behavior to his psychological disorder and to a recent change in his prescription. We would like to verify the em­­ployee’s claims. Are we permitted to ask the em­­ployee for medical certification of his disability and a doctor’s statement regarding his prescribed medications?

How should we determine if employees should be paid for time in training?

Q. We send our hourly employees to training that is related to work but is not required for employees to do their jobs. The training is on a weekend, is voluntary, and no work is performed. Are we required to pay employees for the hours they spend attending the training?

What can we tell co-workers about a new employee’s sex change and transgender status?

Q. We recently hired an experienced salesperson. Dur­­ing her orientation, she told HR that she recently underwent a sex change procedure and that she is transgender. A few days later, another employee went to HR and explained that he had known the salesperson in a previous job before her sex change. This employee is clearly uncomfortable and asked for advice on what he can say to the new employee and others on the team about their former working relationship?

If exempt employee fields calls or emails on a sick day, is it still a sick day?

Q. If a salaried manager is contacted via phone or email while out on a sick day and she responds, would that constitute work performed? Would that still be considered a sick day?

Should we track exempts’ sick time?

Q. Our company gives eight hours of sick leave per month to nonexempt employees. We’ve been told that, under the FLSA, exempt employees are to be paid whenever they are sick. So our exempt employees have virtually an unlimited sick-leave balance. Is this a correct way to interpret the FLSA? Should we have some type of sick-leave accrual and tracking for our exempts?

Can we change full-timer to part-time after maternity leave?

Q. We are a small company and have seven employees. One of our employees recently went out on a leave of absence for pregnancy. During that time, we hired a replacement worker to do the same job. The replacement only worked part time, but was still able to complete work that our employee did full time. When our employee returns to work, we would like to change her job status from full time to part time. Is this legal?