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The HR Specialist: North Carolina Employment Law

Some disabled applicants or employees will never be able to perform their jobs. However, you can only reach that conclusion after both sides engage in the interactive accommodations process. If no accommodation will let the person perform the job’s essential functions, you can terminate an employee or reject an applicant.

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The EEOC is suing a Chick-fil-A res­­tau­­rant in Concord, alleging violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that almost any savvy HR professional would have known to avoid.

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Sometimes, ­­employers must grant more time off to disabled em­­ployees if their FMLA and other leave has expired. But they don’t have to if doctors can’t estimate a return-to-work date.

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North Carolina-based national book distributor Baker & Taylor faces challenges to language in the release it includes in all its severance packages. The EEOC claims the release violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by forcing employees to sign “broad, misleading and unenforceable” agreements to receive severance pay.

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Here’s a hint for defending your company in a discrimination case: Don’t even think about arguing that an obviously offensive ethnic slur is ambiguous or not offensive at all. It won’t get you very far with most judges.

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Before you begin talking to candidates, make sure everyone you selected for an interview opportunity is among the best qualified, and that you haven’t passed over anyone who is obviously as well-qualified as other applicants. That’s the best way to avoid a needless failure-to-hire suit.

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You know you should discipline all workers fairly and equitably, with similar punishment for all who break the same rule. That doesn’t mean breaking the same rule always means identical punishment. As long as you have a good and well-documented reason that shows why each situation differed, your decision won’t be second-guessed later.

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You probably make sure all your employees have read your sexual harassment policy. That doesn’t mean they always follow it. If an employee is hinting that she’s being harassed, your best approach may be to hand her another copy and urge her to report any problems right away.

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High Point-based New Breed Logistics apparently has some old boy problems at its Memphis, Tenn., location. A warehouse supervisor’s misdeeds have now cost the company $1.5 million, plus legal fees, after a federal jury found the company guilty of harassing and firing three female temporary workers.

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If you think an employee has broken a rule, ask her. If she admits she did, that’s reason enough to terminate her. Just make sure you ask the question of every suspected rule-breaker before disciplining them.

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