The HR Specialist

Q. An employee has been out for the past few months on workers’ comp. During his recovery, we placed someone else in his position. His replacement has performed better than the injured employee, and we want to keep the replacement. Do we have to return the original employee to his job following his return from workers’ comp leave? —R.P. …

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The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) fined Citigroup Global Markets Inc. $3 million to settle charges of using misleading sales materials during retirement seminars for BellSouth employees in North Carolina and South Carolina. NASD also ordered Citigroup to pay $12.2 million in restitution, and it suspended three brokers who conducted the seminars …

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The House voted last week to reverse a three-month-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that set a strict time limits for filing pay-discrimination claims. Do you have to worry about this bill winning final approval? Here’s the answer …

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The selection process is over, and the newly promoted employee has begun work. Now is not the time for those involved in the hiring process to pontificate on racial balance in the workplace. That’s especially true if the applicants were all qualified for the position and a member of a majority class was selected over minority candidates …

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If an employee says he or she is being sexually harassed, it’s management’s job to take the complaint seriously. Those who don’t may have to pay dearly—because a jury may order that the victim receive punitive damages, too. The quickest way to earn those punitive damages is to make light of complaints. As the following case shows, that can mean an extra payment of three times the actual damages—or even more …

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Q. I know the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives disabled employees special rights. But I read that the law also extends to employees who aren’t disabled. How is that so? —N.L. …

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Q. Is obtaining a legal release from an employee in exchange for severance pay guaranteed to prevent any legal action by that person? —J.S. …

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Q. I recently read a report that said drug use among employees actually went up in the past decade. We’re considering starting to do drug tests. What should our policy say? —L.U. …

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It’s well-established that employees who claim they have been subjected to a hostile work environment but don’t take advantage of their employer’s complaint process won’t get a chance to take their cases to court. Ever since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the Faragher and Burlington Industries cases, employers can use their complaint processes as a defense against co-worker harassment. But what about under state laws, such as the New York State Human Rights Law? …

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Q. Recently, one of my employees quit without giving notice. I was advised that under New York labor law, I have to pay all earned and unused vacation. Is this true? If so, what can I do to prevent this from happening in the future? …

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