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The HR Specialist: North Carolina Employment Law

OSHA has ordered Gaines Motor Lines, a Hickory-based freight hauling company, to reinstate three workers and pay $1,070,123 in back pay wages, interest, compensatory and punitive damages to four former employees who warned about safety problems.

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OSHA now offers whistle-blowers an online complaint form. Until now, whistle-blowers had to either write or call OSHA. The online form is designed to provide workers who have been retaliated against an additional way to reach out for OSHA assistance.

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Here’s how to handle sexual har­­ass­­ment complaints: Investigate fast and fix any problems you find. Then don’t fear legitimate discipline afterwards.

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Employers must reasonably accommodate disabled workers so they can perform the essential functions of their jobs. But what should you do if you have made accommodations and they don’t seem to be working?

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You might assume that firing an employee for breaking a safety rule would be “safe” from judicial criticism. But if you don’t punish all workers equally for violating the same rule, you may run into trouble if the employee can show that others outside his protected class weren’t punished as severely.

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Employers often worry when they respond to requests for an em­­ployee reference. They assume if they aren’t upbeat and positive, they may end up liable if the employee doesn’t get the job. Fortunately, that’s seldom a worry if you are honest, aren’t out to “get” the employee and never volunteer any information without first being asked.

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While Congress has not yet passed an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that outlaws employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, public employers are increasingly being sued under Section 1983, which prohibits government from denying citizens their constitutional rights to equal protection of the law.

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Include ageism in your discrimination and hostile work environment training. And for goodness sake, remind bosses not to refer to older workers as “old man” or “old woman.”

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Charlotte was one of several cities where fast food workers staged November protests calling for higher wages. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organized the protests to spotlight the low wages many in the fast food industry receive.

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Employees in this day and age often want or need to keep working despite advancing age. If you force out those workers, you’re asking for trouble.

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