Ralph Peterson

Q. Before an employee left for FMLA leave, she performed two functions: administrative assistant and some HR duties. We filled the administrative position while she was on leave. Can we assign her to work only in the HR position when she comes back?

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Q. Do we have to conduct regular performance appraisals and give annual increases? We told a new hire that we would, but now don’t have time or money to do so.

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Employers and HR professionals hear it all the time: You must be prepared to preserve relevant corporate information and data and produce it if you are sued. You can take some preparatory steps to ensure that you can comply with inevitable litigation holds and are proficiently primed to assist your attorneys should litigation occur. This list of 22 to-do’s can guide your document and data preservation and retention procedures:

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Q. We currently pay employees for time spent driving from the office to work sites. We pay minimum wage for that driving time, but we don’t count those hours toward “total hours” worked for the week. That keeps overtime down because their hours aren’t accumulating until they arrive at the job site. Is this OK?

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Q. We recently received a subpoena to produce an employee’s personnel file in connection with a lawsuit. The employee is a party to the lawsuit, but the company is not. Do we have to comply with the subpoena? Should we tell the employee about the subpoena?

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Q. A former employee recently filed a complaint against my company with the EEOC. He is alleging race discrimination. As part of its investigation, the EEOC will be coming to our offices to interview employees. Do I have to make these employees available? Can I sit in on the employee interviews?

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Q. We don’t have a lot of space in our office. Our HR staff shares space with administrative employees and some managers. Must we separate the HR staff from others to protect employee records from snooping eyes?

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Q. One of our employees suffered a job-related injury. Now she’s trying to sue us in court for damages following mediation in which she settled her workers’ compensation petition by accepting permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. Can she do that?

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Do you rely on restrictive agreements (also known as noncompete agreements) to prevent employees from working for the competition and stealing your customers? If so, now is a good time to make sure those agreements will stand up in court.
A recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case, Proudfoot Consulting Co. v. Gordon, illustrates the obstacles and complexity that can trip up employers that take former employees to court.

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Q. We recently signed a collective-bargaining agreement with a union. While the labor contract addresses union representation during grievances and arbitrations, it doesn’t offer our managers and security investigators any guidance on whether and how the union can represent a covered employee during any interviews or investigations of possible employee misconduct. What is our duty under these circumstances?

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