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Carl Crosby Lehmann

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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Q. Flu season is coming and we are concerned. If employees have the flu or show flu symptoms, can we require them to stay home long enough to make sure they are no longer contagious? Would we have to pay them for time away?

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Q. It looks like it will be necessary for our company to lay off several employees. Can you tell me whether we are required to pay severance? If so, how much?

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Q. My company asks employees who receive raises or discretionary bonuses not to discuss them with other employees. An employee recently took issue with this request and told me the company’s practice is illegal. Is that true?

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It’s important for employers to plan to prevent workplace violence and respond to it if prevention fails. While every employer needs a customized plan that fits its particular workplace, good violence-prevention strategies share common elements.

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Q. We have an employee in our manufacturing facility who has brought numerous workers’ compensation claims. This has cost us a lot of money. Do we have to continue to employ this person? His position involves a continued risk of physical injury.

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Q. I recently was talking with another manager at the company who told me that we had hired an independent contractor to work in our records room doing filing and data storage tasks. We also have employees performing that job. Could that cause any problems?

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Q. I have been asked to screen applicants for several positions. Can we lawfully ask selected candidates to submit to physical exams or drug testing? …

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Q. We are a small nonprofit organization that provides social services to the homeless. We cannot afford to pay employees overtime compensation, but some have expressed an interest in donating time to the organization to help provide services. Can our employees also provide work as volunteers? …

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Q. We are a startup company seeking investors, and we currently have limited cash flow. The company’s founders own the company on a 50/50 basis and are serving as the company’s officers. We can’t afford to pay them, and they are willing to work for free as part of their investment in building the company. Can we do that?

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