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  • HR Specialist: Employment Law
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Remind bosses: Steer clear of comments about employees’ use of FMLA leave


Some supervisors just can’t seem to resist offering “helpful” career advice to subordinates. But remarks concerning absences that are covered by the FMLA could be viewed as interference with a protected right, not good career advice. And that could spur a needless lawsuit if the employee is terminated.

How to create a valid severance agreement: Sweeten the pot above and beyond the usual

To prevent lawsuits over layoffs, employers often offer a severance agreement that requires the employee to waive the right to sue. When those agreements involve older workers, they have to meet very specific legal requirements.

Remind bosses: No comments on FMLA use


Some managers and supervisors just can’t seem to resist offering “helpful” career advice to subordinates. That’s especially true for workers they may see as less devoted to their work than old-school employees. But a remark concerning absences covered by the FMLA may well be viewed as interference with a protected right.

Employers get to choose cost-cutting moves


In tight times, employers must explore every cost-saving option. After looking at several ways to balance the budget, you may decide you need to trim the workforce. Don’t be surprised if a laid-off em­­ployee sues.

When you need to trim workforce, focus RIF criteria on measurable factors

The key to a successful, challenge-proof reduction in force is using objective, measurable factors to determine who stays and who goes. That greatly reduces the likelihood that a former employee who loses his job to a RIF will win a discrimination case.

Layoffs looming? Use past reviews to decide who stays and who goes

Smart employers use past per­­for­­mance rankings as the major criterion for laying off employees during a reduction in force. The reason is obvious: Since the rankings predate the layoff decisions, they’re almost impossible to challenge.

OK to cut returning veteran’s job if decision wasn’t based on military status

Generally, members of the military released from active duty service are entitled to return to their former jobs. But what happens if bad economic times force a layoff before the em­­ployee returns to work? Is he exempt from the cuts?

Use discipline record to select employees for RIF

Absent a union contract or other established rule, you don’t have to use seniority to decide which em­­ployee should be laid off. You can use any objective measure.

Whether layoff affects one or 100, use solid business reasons to justify job cuts

Sometimes, all it takes to cure a budget shortfall is to cut one position. As a business move, doing so is just as valid as conducting a much larger layoff. As long as you can show the change was based on business needs, you won’t lose a discrimination case.

Handbooks: 5 simple steps for preserving at-will status

The easiest way to make sure employees understand that they are employed on an at-will basis is to place disclaimers throughout your employee handbook. Five key elements will help those disclaimers stand up in court if an employee ever mounts a legal challenge to at-will employment.