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Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

When was the last time you took a red pen to your employee handbook? Would you rather memorize all of your employee’s social security numbers backwards than open that Pandora’s box? One court recently warned you had better fix the problems or it might just be held against you as ‘Exhibit A’—as in this case below …

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We all have our days when we show up to work with a little red eye, in a bad mood and maybe even a bit “word challenged.” But when do those signs signal that an employee should be sent for a drug test? And how do you prevent claims of discrimination for singling that employee out? A court ruling last week gave some great insights. Plus, you can download a free sample policy on drug use and drug testing ..

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Some employees in your organization were probably pestered as kids on the schoolyard for the way they looked. Now these people are older, and they can take their bullying complaints to the court—not just the principal. One court recently said that “personal appearance” can be a protected characteristic. And employers should take prompt action to stop employees from being ridiculed, and to make sure no one retaliates against the employee who complained …

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In this new ruling, a court said an employee who was sexually assaulted on company property can sue her employer in court. This case serves as a lesson for all employers: You can’t argue that every on-site employee injury is subject to the exclusive and limited remedies available under state workers’ compensation law. With punitive damages hanging over their heads, employers now have real incentives to protect their employees from bad hires.

 

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Yahoo! No really, YAHOO!! Last week, Yahoo’s CEO got caught in a media firestorm over her decision to eliminate its employees’ working-from-home option. But let’s not get Yahoo’s business mandate confused with every employers’ legal obligations to consider flexible work arrangements when it comes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Even Yahoo still must comply with disability rights laws. As this new court ruling shows, when employees suffer disabilities, you may have to loosen up your rigid work timetables …

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We’ve been warned not to discipline employees for their Facebook rants about the company. (That could be “concerted activity.”) And we have to be careful not to use Facebook info when hiring. (That could be discrimination.) So can employers really use Facebook for anything these days? Yes, you can, says an important court ruling this month. If an employee is on FMLA leave, on vacation, on a beach, on a buzz … then Facebook may be your best friend.

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Sometimes, employees are so sick they can’t call into work. So, they have a friend or co-worker do it for them. But, as a ruling this week shows, an employee’s request for FMLA leave can get lost in the translation. Here’s how to correctly handle this old-school game of telephone …

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What would you do if you were hiring a lifeguard for a community wave pool and the applicant was deaf, but he was also certified as a lifeguard? A new court ruling this month shows how mistakes made in assessing the applicant’s medical condition can leave an employer drowning in litigation …

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If I said “tweet” to you back in 2005, you would have thought I was playing charades. But with people generating more than 340 million tweets daily, Twitter has become a social media phenomenon … and an employment liability risk. One important issue: Who owns that Twitter handle? And if your employees post on their work-related Twitter accounts, can employees “take” those followers when they leave? …

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Does it seem like courts keep telling us we have to monitor all juvenile behavior in the workplace? Do we need to hire “conduct cops” for our hallways? A court ruling last week smacked some sense into the laws and said “no” — not all bad-boss behavior is automatically “discrimination.” Is this an early holiday gift to employers?

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