The HR Specialist

Do you have a file cabinet overflowing with employment applications filled out by years’ worth of job-seekers? Don’t toss them out! Unless those applications included a statement that you would retain them only for some set time, your best bet is to contact every applicant and explain what you are doing …

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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 internally or with the EEOC. Now, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Ohio employers, has taken the concept one step further …

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HR is usually the first to know when an employee files an ERISA complaint or lawsuit. Since HR also typically handles transfer, hiring and promotion paperwork, that can put the company at risk for a retaliation lawsuit …

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Whether we’re in slowdown or a full-blown recession, many employers may be contemplating job cuts to cope with tough economic times. But employers that downsize the wrong way may end up spending more on litigation than they save on labor costs. To avoid a costly court fight, know your WARN Act compliance responsibilities.

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The dangers of smoking are well documented: heart disease and cancer, shorter life expectancy, higher health care expenses. Now add another risk: As workers in Indiana just found out, smoking could get you fired. Was their employer justified in taking action, or did it step into a legal quagmire?

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Need another reason—beyond harmony and collegiality—to insist that managers maintain a civil and considerate work environment? Consider this: Employers can be held liable for the defamation and assault of co-workers …

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The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with handicaps. Employees who want accommodations have to let their employers know. Refusing to provide updated medical information sinks an employee’s NJLAD claim …

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Q. I’ve required employees seeking FMLA leave to have their doctors fill out the DOL’s medical certification form. Too often, though, the information I get from doctors is too vague to be much help. Is there any way I can get more detail in these forms? …

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Q. A female sales representative submitted a harassment complaint to HR about comments posted by one of her co-workers on MySpace. Our company’s Internet policy addresses only use of the Internet and personal e-mail in the office. Can we discipline the employee? …

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Q. Can an employee sue us in the New Jersey Superior Court for the same alleged discrimination still pending before the Division on Civil Rights? …

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