Michael Fox

Q. We recently received a court order to garnish the wages of an employee who has failed to repay a student loan. I thought that the garnishment of an employee’s wages in Texas was prohibited by law. Is that no longer true?

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Q. Lately we have been concerned about workplace theft—both of our property and that of our employees. We would like to search our employees’ lockers, each of which is secured with a worker’s own lock. Is this legal? Do we need the employees’ consent?

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Q. We suspect one of our employees has filed a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim. We would like to hire a private investigator to gather information on the worker’s activities. What laws would govern that decision?

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Q. Our health maintenance organization contract calls for terminating coverage for anyone who moves outside the HMO service area. COBRA requires us to offer continuation coverage to qualified beneficiaries even if they move outside the HMO service area. How do I comply with these requirements?

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Q. Occasionally, when we receive a big order, our nonexempt employees have to work through their lunch breaks. Although we do not pay them for this work, we buy pizzas and sodas for all the affected workers. Is this lawful?

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Q. I recently received an inquiry for a reference regarding a former employee. Does the job reference law alter what I should disclose regarding this person’s employment history?

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Q. I am a manager for a local bank. I strongly suspect that one of my tellers is stealing because his drawer is short every week. I have interviewed several employees, but no one knows anything, and the teller refuses to answer any questions regarding the missing money. Can I require him to take a polygraph test?

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Q. Our new plant manager wants me to revise our sexual harassment policy to require employees to submit complaints in writing. He says this will formalize the procedure and help ensure that only valid complaints are filed. I don’t think this is a good idea. Is it?

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Q. One of our supervisors wants to coach his son’s basketball team and has asked to leave work an hour early twice a week. We told him we do not have a problem with leaving early, but that he would have to use vacation time to cover the time lost. He refuses to do that and says we cannot dock his pay for the two hours because he is a salaried supervisor. Is that right?

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Q. We have an employee who claims to be a witch. She contends that witchcraft is her religion and has asked for certain holidays off. Are we required to accommodate this employee’s request?

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