The HR Specialist: Employment Law

While employees with chronic medical conditions are typically entitled to FMLA leave, such intermittent absences are fertile ground for abuse. After all, an employee on intermittent leave can simply call in and say his condition is acting up. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless if you suspect abuse.

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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 job candidate with the most experience might also be the oldest applicant. But that doesn’t mean you always have to pick that person. You can use other factors as long as none of them hints at age discrimination. The key is to maintain impeccable records showing how and why you chose the candidate you did.

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An employee has sued for religious discimination after he was fired from a plastics plant for refusing to wear a sticker saying 666, noting the number of days the plant has gone accident-free. The employee noted his “sincere religious belief that to wear the number 666 would be to accept the mark of the beast and be condemned to hell.”

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An increasing number of those managers are filing FLSA lawsuits, claiming they should be classified as nonexempt, hourly employees—and, thus, due overtime—because they spend most of their time doing the same tasks as their subordinates. But that’s not the test.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation issued final regulations Dec. 2 that ban the use of hand-held cellphones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles, including trucks and buses on interstate routes.

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Employers will ring in some new laws in 2012 that will bring new opportunities and challenges, including the VOW to Hire Heroes Act and the Dodd-Frank amendments to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

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You’ve told managers before, now tell ’em again: Email may seem like private communication, but it really isn’t. Anything a manager says in an email may become evidence in a lawsuit.

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Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during each 12-month period. But lawsuits often hinge on one question: Which 12 months? It’s the employer’s duty to let employees know how much leave they’re entitled to or have al­­ready taken.

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Nine in 10 employers expect litigation against their organizations to increase or stay the same in 2012 compared with 2011, according to Fulbright & Jaworski’s 8th annual Litigation Trends Survey Report.

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