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The HR Specialist: Employment Law

This was not the year to get sloppy with your I-9 forms. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a record 2,393 audit notices to inspect employers’ I-9s this year, a more than 375% increase from audits in 2008.

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In light of the highly publicized scandal at Penn State University, one HR lesson is obvious: Employers can never ignore reports of misconduct or harassment by employees against anyone. But at what point does harassment cross the line into something more seri­­ous (like assault) that requires an employer to call the police?

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Test your knowledge of recent trends in employment law, compensation and benefits and other HR issues with our monthly mini-quiz.

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Without any action by their legislatures, employers in 10 states will experience increases in their minimum wage rates in 2012 because those states tie annual increases in their wage floor to increases in the cost of living.

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Here’s an important note for small employers looking to avoid unnecessary hassles and lawsuits: If you receive a complaint from the EEOC or local employment discrimination agency, don’t assume or admit that you have enough employees to be covered by the law. If you have fewer than 15 em­­ployees, you could win instant dismissal.

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Some employers mistakenly believe that women can’t take FMLA intermittent leave when they become pregnant. That’s simply not true. Women may take intermittent leave for normal prenatal care and any “incapacity” during pregnancy.

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Q. We’ve had it with all the texting and social networking by employees when they’re supposed to be working. Can we just make them check their electronic devices at the door? Telling them to stop when we catch them isn’t working.

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With more veterans returning from active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, remember: Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, service members are entitled to reinstatement as if they never left for deployment.

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OSHA standards require that employees be able to open an exit route door from inside at all times, without keys, tools or special knowledge. Last month OSHA slapped a supermarket with more than $62,000 in fines for locking all five exit doors during the night shift.

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A court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19 on two business-backed lawsuits challenging the legality of the National Labor Relations Board’s new requirement that U.S. employers display a new workplace poster describing employees’ union rights.

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