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Dole Out Stipends in a Nonbiased Way

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Q. Is it legal to offer some employees, but not others, stipends to help with education, rent or lodging? —N.G., California

A. Like all other forms of employee compensation, stipends for education and housing must be given in a nondiscriminatory way. This means two employees holding the same position for the same duration both should be either eligible or ineligible for a stipend. Offering a stipend to only one of these employees may open the door to a disparate-treatment claim.

However, if you have legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons, you can offer stipends only to employees who meet certain requirements. For example, you may choose to offer stipends to workers employed for at least two years, or occupying high-level or technical positions, or who've achieved certain objective performance goals.

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