Susan Lessack

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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Q. Our job application doesn’t ask for the applicant’s age or date of birth. However, we plan to start conducting background checks on job applicants we’re seriously considering. The company that will conduct the checks for us said the birth date is on all the applications they see and that it’s instrumental to conducting the checks. What should we do?

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Q. We may soon terminate an employee whose daughter also works here. We’re uncomfortable with her daughter remaining as an employee. Can we legally fire the daughter, as well?

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Q. I’d like to know if our company needs a HIPAA form for employees to sign when we release personal information to others. Is HIPAA only for the medical field?

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Q. One of our employees was recently in jail for traffic and drug violations. Before he returns to work, what guidelines can we follow to ensure that he’s drug-free? Will we be discriminating if we require a drug test before allowing him back on site, even though we didn’t require such a test when he was hired?

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