The HR Specialist — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 307
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The HR Specialist

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Discrimination cases are all about motives. That’s especially true when an employee loses his job and alleges that the real reason for his discharge was racism or some other form of bias. One simple way to deflect discrimination charges is to make sure that the same person who made the termination decision also had a direct hand in either the original hiring decision or subsequent promotions …

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If employees’ disabilities aren’t obvious, the ADA doesn’t protect them if they don’t make it clear they have a disability. Only after an employee reveals he has a disability are you obligated to pursue reasonable accommodations. Vague requests such as asking for “more help” aren’t enough to trigger the ADA …

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One of the most important HR functions is monitoring whether your organization is unwittingly discriminating when hiring, firing or promoting. To do that, you obviously have to know who belongs to what protected classification. At the same time, you don’t necessarily want the supervisors and managers who make employment decisions to have that information at their fingertips …

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Employees who complain that other employees have been discriminated against can’t just walk off the job and sue, claiming their working conditions were intolerable. The workplace must be more than merely unpleasant to justify a claimed constructive discharge …

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It’s important to remind all supervisors to judge employees on their individual merits—and not to indulge stereotypes. As the following case shows, using stereotypes in any critique of job performance may be enough evidence of national origin discrimination to merit a possible jury trial …

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Q. We have a problem with applicants who pass the pre-hiring process but then decide for some reason that they don’t want the job after all. By the time we learn this, we have already spent time and money on drug tests and orientation, and turned down other applicants. Can we require applicants to submit fees to apply, which we will refund if we don’t hire them, or if they remain employed for a minimum period of time? …

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Q. All of our applicants sign an arbitration agreement. Recently, for the first time, an employee we fired (he had signed the agreement) had a lawyer send us a letter complaining about his termination. Can we use the agreement to prevent the employee from filing a claim for unemployment benefits or a charge of discrimination? …

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Q. Our company has about 75 employees scattered throughout 10 offices in the state, with a maximum of 10 in any one office. One of our employees has requested FMLA leave for a serious health condition. Do we have to provide it? …

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A federal court has ruled that employees who believe their employers harass them because of their military status may file complaints under USERRA. The harassment angle breaks new legal ground. As more veterans return home from active duty, will it open the litigation floodgates?

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