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Q&A

Punish employees who ‘occupy’ in their spare time?

11/01/2011
Q. What recourse do employers have against employees involved in ‘Occupy [Wherever]’ protests during off-time?

Are criminal records ‘consumer reports’?

10/31/2011
Q. I understand that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires disclosure to and authorization from job applicants prior to obtaining consumer reports concerning these individuals. My company obtains criminal background records on all applicants. Are these records considered “consumer reports” under the FCRA?

Are we allowed to round off hours worked?

10/31/2011
Q, My company tracks the hours of nonexempt em­­ployees using a time clock. In determining their wages, can we round up or down to the nearest five-minute increment?

What’s the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?

10/26/2011
Q. How do I know when to classify a worker as a contractor or a true employee?

What’s the background on the NLRB’s rule requiring a new union-rights poster?

10/18/2011
Q. What is the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule regarding notifying employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act?

Employee gripes on Facebook: Can we draw a line?

10/18/2011
Q. You’ve written that we can’t fire employees for their “concerted activity,” like talking about pay or bosses, and we may have to live with certain complaining via social media. But are there limits?

What are the pitfalls of conducting background investigations on job applicants?

10/12/2011
Q. We use an outside company to conduct criminal background checks on applicants. The company asked us if we were interested in having it conduct searches on applicants’ past civil claims. Is that something we should do?

Parenting leave: To whom must notice be given, and can we require use of vacation leave?

10/12/2011
Q. I have a couple of questions about the parenting leave. We have 33 employees, so we are not subject to the FMLA. Can we require an employee to give ad­­vance notice of the need for leave to HR instead of the employee’s supervisor? Also, can we require em­­ployees to substitute paid vacation days while on leave?

Do all noncompetes have to be the same?

10/12/2011
Q. We have an employee who is returning to work for us after having worked for a competitor. Nor­mally, we require new employees to agree to a noncompete, with a 15-mile-radius restriction. In this case, we’d like to extend the area to a 30-mile zone around our facility. Can we have a different arrangement with her than the one we have with our other employees?

Mondays off for religious reasons: Is this legit?

10/11/2011
Q. We have an employee who claims to belong to a religious sect I have never heard of. Their alleged holidays always occur on Mondays. Do I have to give her these holidays off?