Employment Law

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Q. One of our employees is on leave after giving birth. She may qualify for a position that recently opened up. Do we have an obligation to notify her of that opening? —R.D., Ohio

Q. Our business has 14 employees, and we pay 100 percent of their health insurance costs. One employee is out on workers' comp. Are we required to continue paying his health insurance, or can we offer him COBRA? —P.F., Delaware

Q. Can I ask employees who are already with the company to execute noncompete agreements? —L.T., Georgia

Because of a quirk in Pennsylvania law, employers may soon see an uptick in state-based employment lawsuits. Reason: A federal court clarified that all state employment claims must be filed within the appropriate state statute of limitations (one year, for example, on defamation cases). Employees can't wait to file a state claim until the EEOC or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission completes its investigation, the court said ...

Expect this summer's blockbuster U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Burlington Northern v. White, to swell the number of retaliation complaints and legal claims ...

Q. One of our employees went on disability after a motorcycle accident. We terminated him at his request, as he wanted to cash out his 401(k). His doctor recently released him from disability, and he's seeking re-employment for a different position. Our owner is concerned that if he doesn't offer the ex-employee a job, we may face legal retribution. And he's concerned that if we do bring him back, we'll end up with a workers' comp claim from a slip/fall injury. Do we have any obligation to rehire this employee? —B.O., Pennsylvania

Courts view interns the same as employees: as “agents” of your organization. So should you. If you use interns or plan to, advise supervisors to manage them as closely as employees, if not more so. And apply your workplace policies to them ...

Expect a call from an employment lawyer when a disgruntled employee is fired. If the axed employee belongs to a protected class (race, sex, disability, etc.), expect more than a call ...

Q. Is there a law or reasonable standard regarding how many weeks maternity leave should be? And should we make that a written policy in our employee handbook? Even with FMLA, to which our employees are entitled, we thought maternity leave was either six or eight weeks, depending on type of delivery. —J.F., Pennsylvania

Q. One of our managers has medical problems (she qualifies for the ADA and is in an age-protected class) and has used a significant amount of sick pay. Because we don't have a defined sick pay policy, this manager is paid sick time whenever she's out (full day or half day). How can we legally cap this? Is the development of a policy with specific hours our only alternative? —F.E., Georgia