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Carl Crosby Lehmann

Q. Our company works with proprietary and confidential information. We would like to protect ourselves from having that information get disclosed to competing companies. Are confidentiality agreements enforceable? If so, must they be signed at the start of a new employee’s job in order to be valid?

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Q. My company is considering adding a confidentiality notice to our e-mail messages to cover situations in which an unintended person receives our company e-mail. Does this provide any protection?

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Q. My company would like to hire several college students as interns to work on special projects. Because the work has educational value, we are wondering if the internships can be unpaid. Can we do this? …

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Q. My company requires new employees to sign a two-year noncompete agreement. Are such agreements enforceable?

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Q. When an employee requested a reduced schedule as an accommodation of his medical condition, we agreed. He has now told us that he is able to work full time. However, because of business conditions, we’d prefer to keep him at a reduced schedule. Do we have to reinstate him to his full-time job?

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The EEOC and state and local agencies have been filing more and 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.

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Q. We are considering layoffs but would like to avoid them. Can we cut employees’ pay because of tough economic times?

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Q. We have an employee out on FMLA leave and have just learned that she will not be able to return to work when her FMLA entitlement expires. Should we go ahead and send her a termination notice now?

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Q. Is it OK for our company to prohibit employees from speaking in languages other than English in front of our customers?

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Q. With the change in the seasons, an employee who claims to suffer from seasonal affective disorder wants to put up a special lighting fixture by her desk that she says will provide natural-spectrum light. Some employees complained last year when she put up this light that it was bothersome and distracting to them. Do we have to let the employee use the light? What do we tell other employees?

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