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Richard Chapman

When it comes to getting paid, every minute matters in wage-and-hour cases. Does that same rigid rule apply to the FMLA?
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has now said you had better use your stopwatch when it comes to counting work time that applies to FMLA eligibility. Every minute counts toward the 1,250-hour minimum employees have to work in a year …

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Q. Our company has a strict Internet-use policy. During the course of routine computer maintenance and observation, our third-party IT provider advised us that one of our employees had been viewing child pornography in violation of our policy. We immediately terminated that employee. Is there anything else we should do regarding this employee’s violation of our company’s policy? …

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Marsha Bartel was an award-winning NBC journalist working on the “Dateline NBC” television show. NBC fired her, claiming it was laying off staff. She sued, alleging NBC had fired her for complaining that the show was not adhering to NBC’s internal ethical standards. The case offers some important reminders about how to handle termination of at-will employees.

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Q. Our company has just made a job offer to a highly qualified man to work in our company’s IT department. During the final stages of our interviewing process, the candidate told us that “she” is transgendered —that she would be transitioning from male to female. We believe employing a transgender employee could be very disruptive and cause a morale problem in the company. Can we rescind the offer based on the candidate’s transgender status?

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Q. Does an employee have to say that she wants to “take FMLA leave” in order to satisfy the requirement that she notify her employer of her “intent to take leave”? What must an employee tell an employer to preserve her right to take FMLA leave?

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Q. In our severance agreements, we typically require a terminated employee to waive all claims, including FMLA claims that could have arisen while the employee worked for us. I’ve now heard that it is improper for employers to get waivers of FMLA rights from existing employees. What should we do?

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Employers routinely require applicants to whom they have extended job offers to take tests for illegal drugs. If they pass, they get the jobs. If they don’t, employers can legally rescind the offers. But here’s a case in which an employer completely mishandled this everyday procedure, and now will probably pay a high price.

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Q. A former supervisor is the subject of an ongoing sexual harassment and retaliation investigation. He is asking to view his personnel records. The records contain the details of the retaliation complaint. Does he have the right to review his own personnel file? …

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