The HR Specialist

The California Supreme Court has ruled that managers and supervisors shouldn’t be held personally responsible when an employee wins a retaliation claim under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act …

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More and more courts are ignoring the labels companies and independent contractors put on their relationships—and even rewriting the relationship in some cases. That means that someone an organization has carried on the books as an independent contractor can be reclassified as an employee …

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When W&M Properties took over management of an office complex, it immediately set about changing the staffing model under which building engineers would work. Managers began interviewing the seven incumbent engineers for positions under the new structure as well as outside, nonunion candidates. At some point during the interviews, a hiring manager let it be known that the company did not want a unionized work force …

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Q. We are a small company with fewer than 10 employees. We would like to terminate an employee who is pulling down workplace morale. What are the risks? …

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Q. I have an employee who is taking leave under the FMLA. The company is continuing to pay the same portion of her health insurance premiums that we paid while she was working. She’s having lingering medical problems, as is her newborn child. If she decides not to return, may we recover any of the premiums we paid? …

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Q. We would like to monitor e-mail usage at our workplace. Can we access employee e-mail without violating their rights to privacy? …

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Discrimination complaints in 2007 saw their largest annual increase since the early 1990s, as the EEOC reported double-digit percentage hikes in almost every kind of discrimination charge. Race discrimination continued to lead the field, but for the first time, retaliation was the second most common complaint. Will the new statistics embolden more employees—and their attorneys—to bring charges against you?

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The employment law legislative cycle has played out repeatedly for more than 40 years: Congress acts to protect service members’ rights when they are risking their lives in the field. Often those rights end up spreading to all other workers as well. The result: the Civil Rights Act, the ADA, the FMLA and USERRA.

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When it comes to discrimination claims, timing can be everything. An employer that discharges or demotes a pregnant employee (or one who has just given birth) is asking for a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit. If you have a poorly performing employee who is pregnant or just gave birth, don’t do anything adverse until she has returned to work for some time …

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Employees who win discrimination lawsuits against their former employers sometimes are entitled to more than money. In the right circumstances, they are entitled to other things to make them “whole” again, including positive references, notice when a prospective employer contacts the former employer and changes to the separation notice …

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