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Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

Employees with “serious health conditions” can take FMLA leave. But when does that serious condition take effect for employees who need alcohol treatment? Is it when the employee first contacts a doctor to get a referral for in-patient treatment … or is it at the time of check-in? Can you fire an employee for absenteeism prior to going in to rehab? One court ruling last week says you can

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Are your managers giving you only half the story when recommending a termination? Watch out! As a new court ruling says, this kind of “willful ignorance” on your part is no defense to discriminatory conduct

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Can a boss hire or promote people simply because he has a religious obligation to “help his own?” Can managers incorporate their religious beliefs when making employment decisions?

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Does your company have a written progressive disciplinary process? If so, do your managers and supervisors always follow it fairly and consistently? One slip-up, as a new case shows, can smash your company in court

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Employees don’t have to say the magic words, “I am requesting FMLA leave” to earn protection under the FMLA. It’s up to employers to recognize qualifying leave, based on the information provided by employees. But when employees are out for workers’ compensation injuries, must you interpret that as automatic notice that they’re suffering a “serious health condition” that qualifies them for FMLA leave? This new ruling shows how workers’ comp leave can quickly morph into FMLA notice …

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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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