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The HR Specialist: Ohio Employment Law

Some ideas die hard—such as the belief that pregnant women can’t work in what some consider dangerous or strenuous jobs. If you make assignment decisions based on that mistaken belief instead of real medical information, you could end up in court.

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Ruling against the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a nursing home’s policy of requiring one year of service before providing maternity leave did not violate state law.

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Rules are no good if you follow them only some of the time. Uneven enforcement can cause lawsuits. If you have rules, enforce them. Drop those you don’t want to enforce. Otherwise, a supervisor may find it convenient to punish someone for breaking a rule that others are allowed to ignore.

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Does your organization have strict honesty rules designed to prevent employee theft and fraud? If so, rest assured that you’ll have just cause for firing employees who break those rules. And that means they won’t be eligible for unemployment compensation.

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Make sure your employee handbook includes a disclaimer specifying that the handbook is not a contract. Then have employees sign that disclaimer, acknowledging that they’ve read it. That way, you won’t accidentally create an employment contract.

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U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Marcia Fudge, members of Congress from Ohio, have asked the Acting Comptroller of the United States and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to investigate allegations of racial discrimination at the Cleveland facility of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).

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Some employees can’t or won’t acknowledge that they aren’t meeting their employer’s expectations. They ignore negative evaluations, don’t follow through on improvement plans and won’t take direction. You may have no choice but to fire the employee. If you do, don’t worry. Careful documentation will stifle any later lawsuit alleging some form of discrimination.

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Employees who believe they have been sexually harassed may initially make only vague complaints about conduct that makes them uncomfortable. Then HR professionals have to decide what course to take. Should you launch a full-scale investigation? Or should you take the complaint at face value and ignore it?

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These are tough times, and sometimes businesses run short on cash. Or a banking mistake may result in fees that cause other checks to bounce. If that happens to payroll checks, make every effort to fix the problem as soon as possible. Not only are employees entitled to their pay, some have resorted to suing their employers for bouncing paychecks.

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This will probably happen to you someday (if it hasn’t already): An employee in the middle of being disciplined suddenly says he’s ill and has to leave work. Then, after being terminated, he claims you interfered with his right to take FMLA leave. Don’t fall for it.

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