Joseph Beachboard

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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Q. An employee recently complained that one of our clients sexually harassed her. May we be held liable for the client’s action?

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Q. We employ a number of computer programmers at our Northern California facility. Is there a new law regarding compensation for these exempt employees?

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Q. The owner of our company recently fired an employee who refused to run a business-related errand. The employee said running errands wasn’t in his job description. Can he sue us for wrongful termination? …

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Q. We have two employees who went out on workers’ compensation leave and never came back. They’re still listed as employees. Can we lay them off? …

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Q. One of our employees will be out for medical treatments for four to six weeks. He doesn’t want to use FMLA leave, just his accumulated sick and vacation days. We’re afraid he’ll use them up and then demand 12 weeks’ FMLA leave. Can we make him use FMLA leave first? …

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Q. We’d like our retail staff to wear uniforms. Can we charge them for the uniforms? …

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A temporary employment agency violated federal labor law by including a confidentiality provision in an employment contract, according to a recent NLRB ruling (Northeastern Land Services, Ltd. dba The NLS Group and Jamison John Dupuy, 352 NLRB No. 89, 2008). In the case, the agency fired a worker for violating the confidentiality provision …

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