Carl Crosby Lehmann

Q. After repeatedly warning an employee about her poor performance, we recently terminated her. At the termination meeting, she complained for the first time that she felt she’d been held to higher standards based on her gender. She has now filed for unemployment benefits. While we don’t think she’s entitled to the benefits, we wonder whether it makes sense to fight her claim. What do you think?

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Q. I have heard about a new federal law that makes it possible for a nonemployee to sue our company for discrimination. Is that correct? How could such a claim come up and is there anything we can do about it?

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Q. Due to the poor economy, we recently cut one of our manufacturing shift’s hours by 60%. This will continue indefinitely. We gave the affected employees two weeks’ advance notice, but we have now received a letter from an attorney claiming we should have given them 60 days’ advance notice. Is that right?

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Q. We are a small start-up company. We have an office manager whom we pay $350 per week. I understand that, in order to be exempt from overtime labor laws, we would need to pay her at least $455 per week. We can’t afford to pay that amount, but are willing to provide her stock in the company. Will that help?

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Q. We need to cut two employees from our marketing department. One of the employees we would prefer to keep was hired only six months ago. If we don’t base our decision on seniority, are we more susceptible to discrimination claims?

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The EEOC and state and local agencies have been filing more administrative charges in recent years. As the recession deepens and more people lose their jobs, that trend is likely to continue. Because administrative charges can be precursors to discrimination lawsuits, it’s critical for you to handle them properly. These 10 tips will help you prepare to respond:

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Q. My company provides health care services. Recently, a deaf client said we had to pay for a sign language interpreter. Is that true?

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Q. Our company is sponsoring a community art fair, and several employees have volunteered to help at the event. Do we need to compensate those employees for the time they spend volunteering?

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Q. We are sponsoring an immigrant worker on an H-1B visa. Because of performance issues, we would like to terminate his employment. Can we do this?

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Q. Is an employer required to keep a job open for an employee who is out on an indefinite leave due to a workers’ compensation injury? Does the employee have an automatic right to get put back into the same job he was doing right before he was injured?

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