The HR Specialist

Q. We recently discovered a stack of I-9s dating back to 2002. The forms were signed by the employees and include copies of the employees’ driver’s licenses and Social Security cards. Unfortunately, a company official never signed the I-9s. Can we sign the forms and backdate them to 2002? If not, what should we do? …

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A federal judge has stopped implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new rules on how employers should respond to “no-match” letters. Now unless the judge rules differently at trial, it’s back to square one for DHS.

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Performance appraisals are valuable tools to help put struggling employees back on track. But a low rating also can spur poor performers to consider legal action: Many discrimination suits have been launched on the wings of a poor performance appraisal. Fortunately, employers with solid appraisal systems usually have built-in defenses against such charges …

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Employees who begin to feel less valued at work often look for some underlying reason. Often they focus on suspected age, sex, national origin or some other form of discrimination. Then, when a layoff or reorganization costs them their jobs, they sue. Frequently they’ll argue that they should have been offered open positions, even if it would have meant receiving a smaller salary than they had been making …

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If possible, it makes sense to have the same person provide hiring and firing input. Here’s why: Logically, it makes no sense for someone to hire an applicant despite apparent protected characteristics (e.g., gender, race, religion) and then fire that person because of those same characteristics. Although it may not be enough to get a case dismissed, courts will consider it and it may persuade a jury in your favor …

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The sooner you resolve lawsuits, the better. That’s why it’s important to anticipate problems and plan for them. Take, for example, employee records. If you can easily produce statistical information on the race, sex, age or other protected characteristics of your employees, you often can persuade an attorney fishing for a lawsuit that the waters are empty.

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The ADA doesn’t cover all disabilities—only those that substantially impair a major life function. There are many conditions, though serious, that don’t qualify as ADA disabilities. One of those is partial blindness. As the following case shows, unless poor eyesight affects important aspects of daily life, it’s not a protected disability …

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The old adage “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” seems perfectly suited to employer-supplied references. If an employee is fired or quits in lieu of being fired, it’s a safe bet she will look for another job. It’s also a safe bet that her prospective employer will want to know what type of employee it may be getting. Don’t be in a rush to provide more than basic information for any former employee …

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Unless you take great care to document how you use Internet and university job sites, you may find yourself spending quality time with an EEOC auditor.

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Plenty of companies use paid time off banks in lieu of rigid leave plans that designate a specific number of days for vacation, sick and personal time off. Now newer leave plans are going even further, doing away with the concept of tracking leave time altogether. Weigh the pros and cons when deciding whether unlimited leave is right for your organization.

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