The HR Specialist

Q. Is there any limitation on how long workers’ compensation leave may go on? …

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Few things spur a discrimination suit as fast as a manager’s misplaced paternalistic comment. Remind supervisors that employees should choose for themselves what promotion or training opportunities they want to pursue. Presumptions about what they might prefer or would be comfortable doing don’t belong in the workplace …

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Employers are free to set reasonable no-call/no-show rules for all absences, including those that qualify for FMLA time off.  On the other hand, if you discharge someone for failing to follow a rule that doesn’t spell out exactly how you expect employees to call in, don’t be surprised if you end up embroiled in a long, time-consuming and expensive legal battle …

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Sexual harassment cases continue to plague employers. Whether the harassment allegations involve a co-worker or a supervisor, the bottom line is simple: You need a two-part defense …

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Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Burlington Northern retaliation decision in 2006, employers have been struggling with exactly what to do while investigating wrongdoings. One vexing issue has been whether it could be retaliation to place an employee on paid administrative leave pending an investigation …

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Q. I own a small business with 27 employees. Last month I was forced to terminate one of my employees who had been caught stealing. Because I knew he was having some trouble at home, I agreed not to contest unemployment. However, I just received an e-mail from this former employee asking me tell to him, in writing, why I fired him. I cannot shake the feeling that I am being set up for something. After all, I told him during his termination meeting that he was being fired for stealing. Do I have to respond to this request? …

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Q. I was recently hired as the first-ever HR director for a company that has been in business for more than 40 years. While reviewing employee files, I was aghast to find applications from the late ’70s and early ’80s asking very inappropriate questions—the applicant’s political party, religious faith and even family planning goals. I know times have changed, and the company’s applications have been EEO-compliant for more than 20 years. But I worry that the company will get in trouble with the EEOC or other government agencies if the old applications are found in our files. Should I have older employees who filled out the inappropriate applications all those years ago complete and submit current EEO-compliant applications? …

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Q. Our IT manager wants to install software onto our company computer system that will allow us to monitor Internet and e-mail usage on company equipment. Our employee handbook prohibits the use of company equipment or the Internet to surf inappropriate web sites, but does not specifically warn staff that management may monitor their use. Do we need to amend our computer-use policy before installing the monitoring software? …

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Q. When and how must I deliver a fired employee’s final paycheck? …

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Q. I suspect that an employee out on workers’ compensation is lying about the extent of her injury. May I require the employee to have another medical examination? …

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