The HR Specialist: Employment Law

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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This month’s quiz topics include pay raises for HR, Coca-Cola’s daring workplace ban, and the most depressing job in America.

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Employees are increasingly using their personal smartphones for work purposes. But when employees depart, those phones may contain a wealth of confidential company data. What to do?

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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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Q. Our company is handing out bonuses only to those who deserve it. Can we ask them—not demand them—to keep it quiet as we hand them their checks?

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If your organization has a blanket policy that prohibits workers from using the organization’s email for personal matters, it’s time to revise it. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that employees have the right to use their employer’s email system (during off-duty time) to engage in legally protected communications, including discussing wages and even organizing a union.

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Q. We have an employee traveling to Nigeria for a family gathering. Even though Nigeria is Ebola-free at this time, we are considering requesting that she stay out of the office for 21 days upon return to eliminate panic among employees. Due to the nature of her job, she cannot work from home. Do we legally need to pay her for this time?

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