The HR Specialist

No one likes being treated poorly, and when shabby behavior is coupled with something as traumatic as losing a job, the treatment itself can be enough to start a lawsuit. That’s why it is crucial for supervisors and HR professionals to respect the dignity of each employee about to be discharged, no matter what the reason …

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A workplace affair can wreak havoc if the couple breaks up—especially if one is a supervisor. There may be a sexual harassment claim lurking in the affair. But that’s not the only problem. Sometimes an office affair can create an uncomfortable situation for other employees …

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Tell supervisors to avoid the encouraging words, “If we have an opening, we’ll give you a call.” They’re well-intentioned but legally dangerous. Tell departing employees you’ll consider them for any openings they’re qualified for if they apply. Then explain how you post job openings and leave the ball in their court …

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If you receive a discrimination complaint, conduct a prompt and thorough investigation. Then have an independent party decide on any discipline. If the investigation was independent and the decision-maker was not the same person who allegedly discriminated against the employee, it won’t matter if the decision-maker was wrong—just that he or she believed the reason was genuine …

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Q. One of our employees announced that she has agreed to become a surrogate mother. What, if any, kind of leave are we required to provide to her? …

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Q. What are California employers’ obligations with regard to workers who are called to serve on a jury? We often find our schedules disrupted, especially when the employee on jury duty gets stuck on a long trial …

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If an employee’s union rep doesn’t file a grievance and your organization later fires the employee based on an incident that could have been the subject of the grievance, the union is most likely on the hook for any damages …

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Even employees who are no longer working day to day in a hostile environment can sue for harassment. Every federal circuit appeals court that has considered the question has sided with the absent employees on the principle that a hostile work environment may extend beyond the physical workplace …

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Q. My company tracks the hours of nonexempt employees through the use of a time clock. In determining the wages to be paid an employee, can we round up or down to the nearest five-minute increment? …

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For the first time since it became law in 1993, the FMLA is on the verge of being amended. The House and Senate approved broad leave protections for the family members of miltary men and women, and the president is expected to sign the legislation into law. Will the amendments open the floodgates to further changes? How will that affect employers?

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