Carl Crosby Lehmann

Q. We pride ourselves on supporting veterans who have served in the armed forces. We know we should generally not use an applicant’s class (such as gender, race, etc.) when making hiring decisions. But we have heard that the law does allow us to give a hiring preference to veterans. Is that true?

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Q. We recently saw a news report that an AOL employee was fired for taking a photograph during a meeting. Now we’re wondering: Should we include anything in our employee handbook prohibiting the taking of photographs or videos at work?

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Q. Our company received a report that an employee who called in sick on a Thursday and Friday later posted photos to her Facebook page that indicated she was traveling in another city with friends at the time. It appears she lied to us about being sick. Can we require her to give us her Facebook password so that we can see her online postings?

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Q. We have a no-smoking policy that complies with Minnesota’s smoking ban. A number of employees have asked if our policy applies to electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes.” We are not sure what to tell them. Must we ban the use of the e-cigarettes in the workplace? Are we allowed to if we want to?

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Q. We have an employee who has been performing poorly and who has shown up for work appearing to be intoxicated. In a discussion with a manager, the employee admitted that he was currently using cocaine and it was affecting his personal and work life. We haven’t done a drug test on the employee, given his admission of drug use. We want to fire the employee, but we aren’t sure if the FMLA or any other law requires us to give him time off to undergo treatment?

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Q. Our company has 30 full-time employees. One of our employees who is working on a key project has asked us for time off to take care of her grandfather, who has cancer, on days after he’s gone through chemotherapy. We know other family members are available to provide this care, and we are worried that it will be a hardship to have the employee away from work. Do we have to give the employee the time off?

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Q. Our company recently terminated a manager who had been with us for less than three months. He just seemed not to be the right fit. Now the former employee is threatening to sue, saying he left a good opportunity to take a job with us, based on our offer and what was said in the hiring process. We did use an offer letter, which stated that employment would be at-will and that the offer letter did not constitute a contract of employment. Do we have cause for concern?

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Q. We are a construction contractor. We work union, but increasingly find ourselves losing bids because we can’t compete with nonunion companies in certain industry segments. Can we just set up a separate operation to bid the nonunion work? I’ve heard that such “double-breasting” is common practice.

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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?

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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?

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