Q. We fired a part-time employee for stealing a gift card out of the trash. We have a policy against taking anything of value out of the garbage. The next day, his supervisor announced to everyone that the employee had been fired for theft. I don’t think it was appropriate to tell others the reason. Was it? And what should we say if someone calls for a reference?
Q. One of our employees was badly injured when he tripped over equipment that had been left by our office building’s maintenance workers. Workers’ comp covered his medical bills and lost wages, but he also sued the building’s owners for negligence. Now we have a letter from the owners demanding that we defend them in the lawsuit and telling us we are responsible. How can that be? I thought we were protected by workers’ comp.
Q. An employee left work on a Monday due to an illness. She called in sick Tuesday and Wednesday, but we heard nothing on Thursday or Friday. Our policy calls for termination if the employee doesn’t contact us within three days. We posted her job on Friday and decided to terminate her. On Monday, her fiancé called to tell us she was pregnant and had complications that led to a hospital visit. We got a note from her obstetrician saying she’d been examined, but not indicating when she could return. What should we do to avoid any legal fallout?
Q. We have a salaried employee who holds down a second job. Sometimes, she leaves early on Fridays and comes in late on Mondays because the second job overlaps with our office hours. Can we deduct anything from her pay after she has used up her vacation and leave time? Or do we have to pay her even though she leaves early and comes in late?
Q. I have a question about capping employees’ salaries when they reach the top of the pay scale. I’m concerned because the only employees affected are those with many years of service and who happen to be over age 40. Have we made a legal error? Some of the affected employees are angry and have mentioned discrimination based on the residual effect of the cap?
Q. We plan to give gasoline gift cards to employees as incentives for picking up additional shifts. Are these cards taxable? Can we, the employer, simply pay the employees’ portion of the taxes?
Q. We’re cleaning up our personnel files and updating emergency contact information. Some employees don’t want to provide their contact information. Is it legal for us to require them to give it to us?
Q. One of our employees has been out on FMLA leave for seven weeks taking care of his sick mother in another state. We approved a full 12 weeks of leave. I received a voice mail from him saying that his mother died. He also said that he had to clear up a lot of things with his mother’s estate, but that he would be back by the end of his scheduled leave. Can he do that, or can I tell him he needs to come back sooner?
Q. We conduct yearly performance evaluations, during which we review whether employees have met expectations. If an employee fails to meet those expectations, can we legally decrease the employee’s salary?
Q. We require that our employees to agree to resolve all disputes by binding arbitration, rather than going to court. I’ve heard some government agencies have ruled those kinds of arbitration policies illegal. I don’t think that could be right, but thought I better check.