The HR Specialist: Employment Law

When you get wind of a potential harassment situation at work, one of HR’s first steps is to talk to the alleged harasser. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get a full confession in that first meeting. Your role is to sort through the explanations to identify the truth. Be on the lookout for these 10 common excuses:

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OSHA has updated its hazard communication standard to harmonize it with international standards. Com­­panies that manufacture, transport or have chemicals in the workplace must begin complying with the new standard by June 26.

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Sexual harassment victims deserve to have their claims investigated, not ignored. Under no circumstances should you encourage a complaining employee to quit instead of having to endure continued harassment. That’s a sure indication to many juries that the worker was punished for reporting sexual harassment.

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A few years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said employers fighting claims of age discrimination carry the burden of proof to show that their alleged discriminatory decisions were actually based on a “reasonable factor other than age (RFOA),” not discrimination. The EEOC has issued final regulations that clarify RFOAs.

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After employees take medically re­­lated FMLA leave, they sometimes aren’t able to physically perform their jobs. Employers can certainly raise the issue with the employee and can even terminate the employee if he or she can’t perform the job. Just make sure you keep the ADA limitations in mind.

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Facebook says it’s seen “a distressing increase” in reports of employers seeking to gain access to employees’ profiles. Several states are taking action.

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Here’s a good rule of thumb when disciplining employees: Consider it a given that if discipline leads to termination, the entire disciplinary decision-making process will be challenged in court. That’s why you must carefully document every disciplinary action, starting with warnings.

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When it comes to making job offers, you or your hiring managers could be inadvertently locking the organization into employment contracts with new hires. Written job-offer letters run the highest risk of creating implied promises. To avoid creating any job-security promises, follow these do’s and don’ts:

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

 

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The former personal assistant to Lady Gaga has filed a lawsuit claiming the entertainer failed to pay her overtime. She says she’s owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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