Susan Lessack

Q. Two of our employees are having a romantic relationship. One is married. The wife of the married employee came to our facility and demanded to speak with the other woman. We didn’t permit them to speak on the premises. Can we do anything to discourage employee romances or is that strictly off-limits?

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Q. Can we reduce the severance amounts cited in employment agreements we have with certain staff as long as we notify them of the change?

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Q. Can a business require employees to use direct deposit to receive their pay?

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Q. We’re afraid that a previously injured worker returned from medical leave too soon. Can we require him to take additional leave if it’s obvious that the injury is still hurting his job performance?

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Q. An employee took time off to be with her husband who had a heart attack. We only have 30 employees. Management was very upset and wouldn’t let her take any paid time off and wouldn’t guarantee her position. She had accumulated several weeks of sick and vacation time. Can the company keep her from taking paid time off to care for her husband?

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Q. Our policy is to run FMLA leave and short-term disability (STD) concurrently. The FMLA is for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. STD is for 26 weeks, with proper medical documentation. Can we terminate an employee at the end of 12 weeks, when FMLA leave is exhausted? And, if so, do we end STD payments, since the employee has been terminated?

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Q. Is it mandatory for a nonexempt employee to take at least a 20-minute meal break after working a certain number of hours?

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Q. Is there a law that says we must abide by a 45-day waiting period between the time employees are told they’ll be laid off until they receive the severance payment? My supervisor said it’s called a cooling-off period. Is this a federal law?

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Many employers are deciding not to hire smokers, and still more are trying to limit employees’ use of tobacco. Companies are screening new hires for nicotine as a condition for employment, imposing higher health-benefit premiums for smokers and trying to help smokers quit. Policies run the gamut:

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Q. We run FMLA and short-term disability (STD) concurrently. FMLA is for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. STD is for 26 weeks, with proper medical documentation. At what point can we terminate an employee?

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