The HR Specialist: Employment Law

Both the IRS and U.S. Department of Labor are increasing their enforcement scrutiny on companies that allow em­­ploy­­ees to take inappropriate hardship withdrawals from their 401(k) plans.

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Want to hammer home to company execs the need to enforce on-the-job safety? Make it personal.

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The EEOC is cranking up the scrutiny of employers that use job ads to seek—sometimes not so subtly—younger employees.

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As this case shows, running new background checks on your current staff is not, by itself, a discriminatory act. Just make sure you set clear standards on how you will react to the results.

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Do you explain up front to job applicants exactly how your hiring process will work? If not, consider providing a written notice that outlines the process—possibly in a simple frequently-asked-questions format. The FAQ will come in handy later if a disgruntled applicant sues, claiming she was blacklisted or suffered discrimination by not being hired or called for an interview.

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The day before a Texas woman started her new job, she tweeted a rather profane opinion about it—and even threw some sour emojis into the mix. Guess what happened next.

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Here’s our monthly quiz on your knowledge of HR law, news and issues.

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Courts expect em­­ploy­­ees to have relatively thick skins. Behavior that is crude or obnoxious isn’t usually grounds for a harassment lawsuit unless it targets people based on a protected characteristic (sex, age, race, disability, etc.).Still, the “equal opportunity harasser” argument is a pretty flimsy nail to hang your defense on.

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While employees filed fewer charges of job discrimination in 2014 than the year before, one new statistic from the EEOC should make HR and employers stand up and take notice: More than 2 in 5 charges last year allege some form of retaliation against the employee for pursuing the discrimination claim.

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Q. We allow employees to begin working without handing in the documentation we require, such as reference letters. (We always have legal documentation, such as I-9s and W-4s) Are we legally allowed to hold an employee’s paycheck until their personnel file is complete?

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