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Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

Does your company allow employees to play music while they work? Do you ever pay attention to the words? The EEOC says maybe it’s time you plug in. Some companies that don’t monitor their employees’ choices in music just might be singing the “EEOC blues,” as the following case shows…

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Next time you have to decide if an employees’ medical condition is “serious” enough to qualify for FMLA leave, maybe you should grab your Grey’s Anatomy medical book (or maybe just watch the TV show) to brush up on your ability to diagnose. That seems to be what a court is urging in an important ruling that many have overlooked.

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Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. That’s certainly true with the, um, “unique” religious discrimination case that comes to us this month from America’s heartland. The case hammers home a clear lesson: It’s never appropriate for company leaders to force employees to adhere to certain religious practice …

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While the ADA requires companies to make job accommodations for disabled workers, you don’t have to employ anyone who can’t perform the “essential functions” of the job. And on-time attendance is an “essential function,” right? Not necessarily, as the following case shows …

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Does your organization have a blanket policy of refusing to hire any applicant with a criminal record? If so, make sure you can explain exactly why. A recent Pennsylvania court ruling shows that across-the-board “no ex-cons” policies can quickly run into legal trouble unless you can prove the restriction for a specific position was “job-related and consistent with business necessity”…

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What do you do when a chronically absent employee—who’s already received a last-chance warning—is absent again? Do you have to sort out whether that final “last-straw” absence is covered by the FMLA, even if you could have fired the person weeks earlier for being MIA? The answer is unequivocally “yes”

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Question: Think you’ve got a dysfunctional workplace? Take a stroll through the recent 6th Circuit ruling in Parker v. General Extrusions. The case describes a workplace in which Nancy Parker, one of the few female employees on the machine-shop floor, was repeatedly taunted, called names and physically harassed. The response from managers and HR ranged from mild rebukes to outright humor.

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It used to be that you could keep your religious beliefs about sexual orientation to yourself. Not anymore. As a new court ruling shows, if you’re the defendant in a sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuit, a court may want to get inside your head in order to help prove WHY you are discriminating…

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Say four of your salaried, exempt employees are burning the midnight oil this summer on a special project. Their boss wants to reward them with extra pay and/or extra vacation hours. But you raise this legal red flag: Won’t giving them such an “overtime” bonus be treating them more like nonexempt employees and, therefore, destroy their exempt status? The answer: No … as long as you structure that extra compensation in the right way …

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Unfortunately, your HR personnel files are a goldmine for identity thieves, filled with all kinds of juicy personal data. But a new court ruling shows that the rise in identity theft doesn’t excuse employees from disclosing their SSNs to employers …

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