Susan Lessack

Q. I understand there are lots of questions we can’t ask during interviews. But what if the applicant brings up the subject? For example, if she mentions that she just had a baby, can I ask if she’s made child care arrangements? If a person is coming from out of town, I may ask why. If they say “boyfriend/girlfriend,” can I ask if it’s a permanent move?

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Q. When an employee returns from maternity leave, do we have to give her the very same job she had or can she be put to work in a different type of position?

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Q. When, if ever, can our company legally ask an applicant about his or her religious affiliation?

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Q. Are employers required to pay for overtime hours that result when an employee voluntarily switches shifts with a co-worker?

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Q. As a large retail business, we employ several demo reps who present products to shoppers in the hope they’ll buy them. Recently, we’ve had to put increasing pressure on our demo reps to increase sales up to 200%. If a demo rep doesn’t meet the new goal, can we terminate him or her? Do they have legal recourse should they be fired?

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Q. How many hours must employees work to be considered full time? Part time?

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Q. We are still getting requests from students to work for free. We know we have to pay them minimum wage, but do we have to do more? Do we have to pay benefits or give paid holidays?

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Q. I recently read about an employer laying off an entire division and then making those employees reapply for newly reconfigured jobs in that division. This sounds like a good way to get rid of deadweight and lower our payroll. Are there any legal problems with this? Will those who don’t reapply still be eligible for unemployment compensation?

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Q. Our company doesn’t want to consider applicants who send in unsolicited résumés. We are trying to come up with a legally sound definition for “applicant” so we can write an official policy. Any suggestions?

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Q. One of our employees has apparently taken in his sis­­ter’s young child because his sister is undergoing cancer treatment. He wants to take FMLA leave to help the child adjust. Must we provide the leave?

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