The HR Specialist

At one time or another, most employees you manage will have personal problems that hinder their job performance. Often, the problems aren’t serious and employees can quickly return to normal productivity. But in some cases, deeper personal problems can cause long-time, productive employees to suddenly underperform, become tardy or react differently to co-workers. This is […]

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On-the-job racism in America is a growing problem more than 40 years after the Civil Rights Act made employment discrimination illegal. That’s why the EEOC has launched a new education and enforcement initiative called E-RACE (Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment.).

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The New Year often brings a flurry of activity from the many federal government agencies that address employment issues, and 2008 is no exception. We’ve got good news on employers’ control over workplace e-mail, bad news for employers who discriminate and mixed news for those who want to hire foreign workers.

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If, like many organizations, you try to promote from within, make certain you have a clear process that someone in HR oversees. Otherwise, managers and supervisors who have specific people in mind for promotion may “tip off” some employees while leaving others in the dark, opening the possibility of discrimination claims …

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Although U.S. Labor Department regulations say exempt executives must supervise the equivalent of two full-time employees, that doesn’t mean an employee is exempt just because he has narrow authority over all employees within the company …

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Not every complaint to a manager constitutes protected activity, but some do. If an employee complains about what she reasonably believes is discrimination—using language that should tip off her employer that she’s raising discrimination—the complaint is protected …

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What seems like a joke to members of the majority can be deeply hurtful to members of a minority. These days, that’s a particular issue in areas with a large concentration of people of Middle Eastern heritage—such as Michigan. As the “war on terror” shows no signs of abating, it makes sense to remind managers and supervisors to stay away from any comments on ethnicity …

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Q. A former employee has just filed a discrimination charge against us with both the EEOC and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). We are a small company, and the owner has suggested that we respond to the charge ourselves without using an attorney, as we previously have done in unemployment compensation cases. Is there any reason we should not represent ourselves in this case? …

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Q. We fired an employee for destroying company property. The manager wants to deduct the value of the damaged property ($2,500) from the employee’s final paycheck (approximately $2,700). I don’t think we can take so much from the employee’s final paycheck …

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Q. An employee who is seeking FMLA leave has submitted the required paperwork from his doctor’s office, but the doctor’s staff assistant signed it. We asked our employee about the paperwork, and he told us that he went to his physician’s office and asked an assistant to fill out the certification. The doctor was not there when our employee took in the paperwork, and he admits that he had never seen the assistant before. Nonetheless, our employee is telling us that we have to accept the certification because someone at his doctor’s office signed it. Please tell me that at a minimum the physician has to know and approve of this certification …

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