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Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

When was the last time you read your company’s reporting procedures? And where did you get it in the first place? Please don’t tell me you copied it from your previous employer’s handbook or, worse yet, pulled a “one-size-fits-all” policy off the Internet without customizing it. A new court ruling shows why you should take it out, dust it off and look it over closely…

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If you thought only employees could put you on legal notice that harassment is occurring in your workplace, maybe it’s time you looked up … into the sky. A new court ruling says that “helicopter parents”—super-involved moms and dads who hover over their kids’ lives—can officially flip your notice switch, requiring you to take prompt effective action to stop the harassing conduct. If not, you’ll see them both in court

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Typically, employees must notify you if they have an FMLA-qualifying “serious” physical or mental condition. But what if the employee, herself, isn’t aware of this need? Is it up to you and your supervisors to recognize any behavior changes that may indicate the presence of a serious FMLA-qualifying condition? In cases of psychiatric problems it likely does, as the following case shows

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“Do that one more time and you’re through!” Have supervisors in your organization (or even you) uttered this phrase before? A new court ruling shows that if your firing threats are simply empty promises, be prepared to pay up in court … even if you responded promptly and lawfully to the initial complaint.

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Many companies have horribly confusing organizational charts—or no org charts at all. A new court ruling issues a stern warning to employers: If you want to avoid harassment liability, you’d better get your straight-edged ruler out and connect employees to their supervisors by name.

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Ever have employees tell you they need time off for religious reasons? Or, that they won’t perform a certain task because it’s against their religion? Their managers may be tempted to yell “Clam up and get back to work,” but that’s an expensive reply, as two new court rulings show.

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Overtime and harassment are big deals, but a less headline-grabbing risk—retaliation—may be an even bigger danger. And a new court ruling shows that employees who reach out to the police to report inter-office harassment can also earn legal protection from being fired or any other form of retaliation.

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You can’t expect employees to walk into HR and ask, “May I have a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990? Oh, and don’t forget to engage me in the required interactive process!” As the following case shows, blowing off that interactive process could be seen by the courts as “bad faith,” which gives the employee a direct admission ticket to a jury trial …

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Does your organization have a policy requiring employees to retire (or step down to a lesser position) once they hit a certain unbecoming age? Does that sound like your strategic succession plan—push your working geezers and geezeretts out the door so younger workers can climb the ladder? If so, a groundbreaking $27.5 million EEOC settlement last week shows that you better retire those policies … not the people…

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You’ve probably heard about this week’s big $11.6 million sexual harassment verdict against former basketball star and New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas. The bad news: Your employees heard about it, too … and it planted a seed in their minds …

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