Susan Lessack

Q. Our company pays out bonuses in the year after the work is completed, sometimes late into the first quarter. If an employee resigns before the bonus payout date (say, in February), do we have to pay a bonus to that employee?

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Q. We’re planning to demote an employee for performance reasons. He’d move from a supervisory job (salaried/exempt) to an hourly job, so we would cut his pay by about $10,000 a year. What kind of notice must we give him regarding the pay cut and exemption status?

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Q. We’re a nine-physician medical clinic, and we employ a salaried business manager. Her duties include personnel, hiring, firing and office work. We don’t give her comp time or overtime pay. If she takes a partial day off, she must use vacation time (paid time off). Are we handling this correctly?

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Q. Are we required to provide a couch or cot on the premises in the event that an employee becomes ill? Are there any laws that dictate safety or health reasons for doing this?

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Q. A few of our employees have added their spouses to our health benefits plan. We’ve heard through the grapevine that some of these couples aren’t actually married. Can we check on this without being discriminatory?

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Q. If our company hires seasonal employees for the holidays and then releases them after the Christmas rush, will we be responsible for any unemployment insurance claims as the workers’ last employer?

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Q. An employee took FMLA leave Sept. 1 because of job stress. In October, she had an operation for carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers’ comp ruled that her absence was work-related and it dated her workers’ comp claim back to Sept. 3. So, they’re now saying that her FMLA leave won’t start until she is officially released from workers’ comp. Do we need to keep a job open indefinitely for her?

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Q. One of our employees was hurt while driving a company car on her morning commute to work. Would this be considered a workers’ compensation claim?

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Q. Is it legal to ask medical questions of applicants—specifically, if they have HIV? Does the law allow any legal exceptions to ask this question of people applying for food-handling positions?

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As you gear up for a new year, here are some key to-do’s that will minimize the risk of lawsuits: Make sure your company has considered how a potential flu pandemic could affect your operations … Get to know GINA … Keep an eye on the feds … Beware hasty terminations … Watch wage-and-hour issues … Make the ADA interactive … Focus on union issues … Manage social media …

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