Joseph Beachboard

Q. Our company is considering replacing sick leave and vacation benefits with a paid time off (PTO) program. How are these plans treated upon the termination or resignation of an employee?

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Q. One of our employees is experiencing performance-related problems that I believe are attributable to a mental disability. However, the worker has not notified the company that he suffers from an impairment that may be a covered “disability” under state or federal laws. Nor has he asked for any accommodations. Should we nonetheless offer to reasonably accommodate this employee?

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Q. Several recent hires have suffered work-related injuries shortly after beginning their employment. As a result, our workers’ compensation premiums have soared. The company’s CEO, in an effort to avoid this problem, has directed that only “careful” workers be hired in the future. Is this legal?

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Q. One of my employees has created his own web site. Recently, he has been posting negative comments about our company. Specifically, he has accused the company of failing to provide adequate benefits and paying below-market wages. Can we fire the worker for this conduct?

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Q. Our company’s attendance policy calls for issuing a warning when an employee has three absences. Five absences result in a suspension, and seven absences result in termination. Can we continue this policy?

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Q. Are there any specific requirements regarding the types of resting and eating facilities California employers must provide for their workers?

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Q. What kinds of penalties or liability does an employer face if it fails to provide notice of COBRA coverage upon termination of an employee?

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Q. We recently had a power outage and called employees who weren’t in yet to tell them to come in when the power was back up. We then gave these people a chance to make up the lost time by working late or using paid time off. Do we have to pay them for the hours they missed?

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Q. Our employees earn paid sick and vacation leave. Can we require them to use their paid leave at the same time they take unpaid FMLA leave? Otherwise, it seems as if they could use up paid leave and still take 12 unpaid weeks off.

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Q. An employee with severe hearing loss refuses to use his hearing aid. He works in a loud environment with forklifts and other hazards. Can we force him to wear the hearing aid or otherwise remove him from the floor? We think he’s endangering himself because he can’t hear someone warning him about a hazard.

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