The HR Specialist

Not every employee wants to take FMLA leave, and employers sometimes don’t designate paid time off as FMLA time. But an employee doesn’t have to request FMLA leave in order to be protected by the law. That means you can’t refuse to reinstate an employee when she returns from leave. Doing so would amount to interference with the right to FMLA leave …

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Q. I am working with my supervisory staff on how to deal with a difficult employee. He insists he has the right to be represented when his supervisor wants to discuss a performance problem. He recently asked to have another employee come with him for a meeting with his supervisor regarding his poor attendance. We are a nonunion company. Any suggestions? …

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Q. Our company is trying to reduce our medical insurance costs. I have been asked whether we could eliminate coverage for contraceptives. If we provide health care that includes a prescription drug benefit, are we required to provide coverage for contraceptives? …

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Q. My understanding is that an employee must file a charge of sex discrimination with the EEOC or the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) within 180 days. I have been told by the EEOC that it will investigate charges filed within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act. Which is correct? …

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Lots of employers use noncompete agreements to protect against unfair competition from former employees. But a poorly drafted noncompete agreement—e.g., one you obtained from a form book or the Internet—may create serious legal pitfalls …

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It may be tempting to refuse to hire an applicant who could raise your health insurance costs. By the same token, it may seem like a good idea to terminate employees who keep filing expensive health insurance claims for themselves or their dependents. Don’t do it! The penalties for such discrimination can be high …

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During a reorganization, lost jobs can mean unhappy former employees looking for reasons to sue. They may suspect the changes were merely a smokescreen to cover illegal discrimination. The best way to prevent a lawsuit is to open up to those who are slated for termination any new positions you may be creating. Encourage all to apply …

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Setting compensation for a highly skilled job applicant may mean having to offer more money than currently paid to employees performing the same type of job. But what if a current employee sues, alleging the pay disparity constitutes some form of discrimination? Can you avoid liability? …

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Q. We have an employee for whom we have received two wage assignments. Which creditor do we pay? Both proportionally, or just the first one? Or do we alternate? …

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Q. We have received a wage assignment for one of our employees. How long do we have to keep sending money in? …

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