The HR Specialist

Has your organization lost a previous race discrimination lawsuit? Ouch! You can bet some of your employees filed away that information for future use. However, you can take heart in a court’s recent decision that having previously lost a discrimination suit doesn’t constitute “proof” that your organization continues to discriminate—unless the new case deals with exactly the same type of alleged discrimination …

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Does your organization have a rule against removing company documents from the workplace? If not, consider adding one. Documents should remain on the premises, and allowing them to “walk” can spell big trouble. For example, employees may be tempted to remove and copy documents they think will aid a later lawsuit against the company …

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That old stalwart of HR paperwork—the I-9—finally got its much-anticipated face lift. On Nov. 7, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a new version of the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9). Start using it now!

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The Internet lets employers can find out much more about prospective employees than they could just a few years ago. One sort of web site of interest to employers doing background checks: the government’s sex offender registries. Follow these guidelines to use that information responsibly—and legally.

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You may have seen the "60 Minutes" report last Sunday on the  "millennials"—the 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 1995. They’re your new employees and they’re…well… different. Some of them even want mom and dad to come along with them to job interviews. And that’s just fine by some large employers.

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Here’s a risk you may not have considered: Ignoring a sexual harassment complaint may prompt the alleged victim to get help from outside law enforcement agencies. React inappropriately and you’re likely to have a retaliation suit on your hands …

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Your organization’s employee handbook exists for a reason. It serves as a simple and effective way to let employees know what the rules are and what you expect in the way of behavior. If you can show that employees received copies of the handbook and were expected to be familiar with its contents, you have a good shot at defeating any discriminatory discharge claims if you disciplined according to the rules set out in the handbook …

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If you want to avoid airing your organization’s dirty laundry in public, take note: Before you turn over a copy of an employee’s personnel record, go through the file carefully. Remove any correspondence between the HR office and your attorney. It is technically privileged communication …

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Employees whose employers turn down requests for time off to attend religious services can’t just run out and sue for religious discrimination. They have a case only if their employers discipline or discharge them for refusing to comply with the work requirements—for example, by skipping work to attend services …

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