Michael Fox

Q. I am assistant HR director for a small company that uses independent contractors as well as full- and part-time employees. In my role, I must ensure that these workers are accurately classified as either employees or contractors, and that my company fully complies with federal and state tax and labor laws. What is out there to assist me in accurately classifying the workers performing services for our firm?

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Q. May an employee substitute paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave?

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Q. I am the owner of a security services company. One of my rank-and-file employees is currently on leave from work under the FMLA. Due to an economic downturn, I have been forced to reduce the number of shifts available to my employees. If there is no longer a shift available for this employee when he returns from FMLA leave, am I be required to find or create a shift for him?

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Q. A few of my employees have been summoned to appear in court for jury duty service and to act as witnesses in trials. Is there any way that I can prohibit them from serving? And if I can’t, am I required to pay them during their service?

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Q. The company that I own has been in business since 1930. We recently performed an assessment of positions and salaries and discovered that our male executives are paid higher salaries than female counterparts. Are we liable for any unfair business practices?

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Q. As the owner of a Texas company, I want to institute a policy that strictly forbids employees from bringing guns to work—both into the office building and in the parking lot outside. Can I legally draft such a policy?

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Q. I am the owner of several industrial facilities, but recent financial crises have forced me to have to shut down two of these plants. These closings and subsequent layoffs will affect about 600 employees. Am I re­­quired to notify the employees before laying them off?

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Q. An employee recently filed suit claiming race discrimination. What kinds of damages can he sue for, and what compensation could he receive?

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Q. Jim has been a security guard for my company for over 20 years, and has always performed his duties without problem. Since his 60th birthday a few years ago, however, Jim has become steadily less able to walk the required distances during his rounds, and has also been forgetting crucial requirements of his position. Am I allowed to discharge him?

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Q. The vice president of my company, whom I appointed, is really a nice guy, but he has propositioned many of the female employees on multiple occasions for sexual acts in his office. He has a great attitude towards the female employees who agree, but those who refuse have been recently discharged without my consent. Is this sexual harassment?

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