The HR Specialist

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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For key personnel, it’s customary to have employment contracts specifying the terms and conditions under which the employees will work, compensation terms and other details, such as a noncompete and trade secrets clause. Plus, the agreements may specify how much notice key employees must give before they leave for other jobs. Before the contract is signed, make sure it meets with Georgia contract law …

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