The HR Specialist

Q. My company terminated an employee suspected of stealing from her cash drawer. May we subtract the missing amount from her final paycheck? …

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Sometimes employees look for ways to get out of performing work they find unpleasant. Some play the disability card—asking for tasks to be removed from their job descriptions as reasonable ADA accommodations. Before you give in and assign duties to more cooperative employees, decide whether the employee in question really is disabled …

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Q. We are a small not-for-profit organization with eight full-time and 20 (give or take) part-time employees. One of our full-time employees is asking about maternity leave. We currently do not have a policy in place for maternity leave. What are our options? …

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Q. We recently terminated an employee for inappropriate workplace behavior. About two weeks after his last day of work, I received a letter from him requesting a copy of his personnel file. He did not state why he wanted it (although I can guess), and I’d rather not give him possible ammunition to use against the company in a lawsuit. Are we required to provide terminated employees access to or copies of their personnel files? …

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Q. We require new employees to undergo pre-employment medical exams. May we require a new employee to cover the cost of the exam? We have 35 employees …

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Q. Our facility supplies support services to local hospitals, providing around-the-clock care on an as-needed basis to repair or service equipment. This does not demand a constant, on-site staffing presence, but it does require us to keep certain employees on call during evening and night-time hours. Are we required to pay them for the time they spend on call? …

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A California Superior Court decision ordering coffee giant Starbucks to pay its baristas $100 million in lost tips has the company in a froth. Trouble has been brewing since it instituted a policy letting supervisors split tip income with hourly workers. You don’t want to find yourself in the same hot water.

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If you find out that a worker out on FMLA leave is actually working for someone else, it’s time to check the employee’s FMLA certification. If the certificate says he’s “unable to perform work of any kind,” you can and should take action …

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Sometimes, employers make promotion mistakes that are purely unintentional. That can happen, for example, if an employer somehow overlooked a qualified employee for a promotion. If that employee is a member of a protected class, however, it’s easy to believe that the reason was illegal discrimination …

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