The HR Specialist

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Here’s a risk you may not have considered: Ignoring a sexual harassment complaint may prompt the alleged victim to get help from outside law enforcement agencies. React inappropriately and you’re likely to have a retaliation suit on your hands …

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Your organization’s employee handbook exists for a reason. It serves as a simple and effective way to let employees know what the rules are and what you expect in the way of behavior. If you can show that employees received copies of the handbook and were expected to be familiar with its contents, you have a good shot at defeating any discriminatory discharge claims if you disciplined according to the rules set out in the handbook …

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If you want to avoid airing your organization’s dirty laundry in public, take note: Before you turn over a copy of an employee’s personnel record, go through the file carefully. Remove any correspondence between the HR office and your attorney. It is technically privileged communication …

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Employees whose employers turn down requests for time off to attend religious services can’t just run out and sue for religious discrimination. They have a case only if their employers discipline or discharge them for refusing to comply with the work requirements—for example, by skipping work to attend services …

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Sometimes, employees who finally come forward and allege they worked in hostile work environments will reach back years—even decades—to catalog the harassment they claim they experienced. The sheer weight of the list may unfairly sway juries. But fortunately for Michigan employers, there is no continuing-violation claim available under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act …

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Q. I have an employee who is scheduled for surgery and will be going on FMLA leave. What forms will I need? There is a possibility that he will not return after the 12 weeks. How long will we be required to hold his position for him? …

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Q. If a salaried employee has used up all vacation and sick time, yet wants to take more vacation or calls in sick, can we make deductions from his pay? If not, what can we do? We don’t want the employees getting out of hand …

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Q. We told an employee we probably would be replacing him within the next month. He quit and filed for unemployment. Under what circumstances do we have to pay unemployment? …

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Timing is everything, especially when it comes to retaliation. That’s why it’s crucial for supervisors and managers to understand: Once an employee has filed a complaint, don’t suddenly start enforcing rules you let slide before. If you do, the likely result will be a retaliation lawsuit …

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