The HR Specialist

Q. We usually don’t allow our employees to read or comment on their annual evaluations. Instead, we perform a performance review one-on-one and have them sign an acknowledgment that they have discussed their performance. Do we need to provide them with a copy of the evaluation? …

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Q. If an employee is out sick but has already used up her sick leave hours, can we legally subtract from her vacation time instead? …

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Q. There is an employee in our company who repeatedly comes in to work with injuries obviously suffered at the hand of her spouse. As an employer, do we have an obligation to alert authorities about at-home physical abuse of an employee? …

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Q. One of our employees recently came back from FMLA leave. Before he left, we never agreed on the method by which he would pay his share of health insurance premiums. It’s been two months now, and the employee hasn’t mentioned it or attempted to pay us back. What can we do to collect the premium? …

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Q. Some employees have complained anonymously that an employee is receiving preferential treatment because she’s the niece of a manager. We would like to defuse the situation by transferring her to another office. Is this OK? …

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Retaliation lawsuits are all the rage among employees (and their lawyers) these days. Employees filed 26,663 complaints of retaliation with the EEOC in 2007, up 18% from the previous year. One key reason is the landmark U.S. Supreme Court 2006 ruling in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White

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Veterans … gays … singles … Christians … new employees. For years, employees with common interests or characteristics have been banding together in lunch or after-work groups—typically with their employers’ blessing and support. These so-called affinity or support groups are a natural extension of workplace diversity. Now, however, more employers are realizing the potential risks of supporting these groups …

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Managers and supervisors tend to cut some slack for new employees. After all, novice employees need training before mastering new skills. But if a trainee is beginning to look like she’s not catching on, it’s time to document her efforts and results—plus those of her fellow trainees. Here’s why …

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Arbitration is frequently billed as an inexpensive and quick way to handle employment law claims without incurring the high cost of litigation. That’s why many employers are so eager to have employees sign agreements that require arbitration of workplace claims. But sometimes that strategy backfires …

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Sometimes, employees learn that having union representation might not be as good a deal as they initially thought. If that’s the case, you may find that some employees approach management about the possibility of ousting the union. Before you jump for joy, think carefully about how to go about becoming a nonunion workplace again …

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