The HR Specialist

The Equal Pay Act was passed to ensure that women are paid the same as men for substantially equal work. The law does allow for differences based on any factor “other than sex,” but you must be prepared to explain pay differentials in a way that clearly demonstrates why two employees in the same job receive different wages …

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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has just expanded employee rights in alleged sexual harassment cases. The court has ruled that sexually explicit language that tends to demean women can be the basis of a sexual harassment and hostile work environment claim even if the language is not aimed at a particular woman …

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Don’t bar former employees who have sued the company from applying and being hired for new jobs. Doing so almost certainly invites a retaliation lawsuit—one that courts are likely to find in favor of the former employee.

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Supervisors may subject their employers to hostile-environment liability if they make snide comments that can be interpreted as anti-female and then deny even minor opportunities for a woman to do the job she was hired to perform. It’s a case of many small indignities adding up to sex discrimination …

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Q. Our company policy requires an employee’s supervisor to approve all overtime. However it’s common for employees to work overtime that has not been approved; time they then record on their time sheets. Since the overtime was never approved, our management takes the position that it does not need to pay for this overtime. My understanding is that all hours worked must be paid. Which is correct? …

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Q. Our company has been cited by the Department of Labor for what it considers to be a violation of a MIOSHA safety standard. We are appealing the citation, which we understand could take months or even a year or more to be resolved. Our citation contains an abatement date, but we don’t think we have to make the changes suggested because we still believe there was no violation of the standard. Can MIOSHA cite us again for the same condition because we have not abated the contested safety violation? …

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Q. We lease some of our workers from an agency. The agency handles all personnel needs of its employees, but our supervisors provide day-to-day direction to the workers. One of our agency employees, Jane, informed the agency that she was taking FMLA leave for her pregnancy. While Jane was out on leave, the agency supplied us with a replacement, Mary. Jane’s FMLA leave is over, and the agency wants to send her back. We would prefer to keep Mary. Does the FMLA oblige us to let Mary go and bring Jane back? …

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For determining reinstatement rights under the FMLA, it’s the job the employee was in at the time she began her FMLA leave that counts. As long as the job she returns to is substantially equivalent, it does not matter that the job may be below her capacities and educational background …

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You know it’s illegal to retaliate against an employee who has engaged in so-called “protected activity,” such as filing a discrimination complaint. Now the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has taken the concept one step further …

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Denying someone a transfer she wants may be an adverse employment action—and may trigger a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit. That’s true even if the transfer wouldn’t have meant more pay or other tangible benefits …

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