Mindy Chapman, Esq., Mindy Chapman & Associates

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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Responding to a harassment complaint is a lot like running a sprint
race—even if you start well and do everything right, one trip near the
finish will wipe you out. For HR, the most common problem comes
when it handles an initial harassment complaint or lawsuit just fine,
but then some genius in the office decides to “get back” at the
complainer in some way. Doing things 99% right just isn’t enough to stay out of court…

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The right timing is an important thing in most contact sports …
including layoffs. And suspicious timing is always a red flag to
employees and to the courts, as new lawsuit against Boeing shows. If
your organization suddenly changes its employee-scoring rules (to the
employee’s detriment) prior to a layoff, it will undoubtedly raise
eyebrows that something fishy is going on. The courts call it “pretext”
for discrimination … your employees will call it something worse …

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When an employee says “No” to the sexual images posted in
co-workers’ workstations and to their sexually laced comments, your
company better listen … and act. It can’t become caught up in a debate
over “how much” porn is acceptable. As a new lawsuit shows, even if an
employee initially tolerates a sexually charged workplace, she can drop
the lawsuit hammer at any time.

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The U.S. Labor Department issued a report
yesterday that said all is not well in the land of FMLA. Shocking,
truly shocking! And we in the employer community thought things were so
rosy…

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