Q. Since Sept. 11 and due to the economic doldrums, some of our employees have not been the same emotionally. We’ve tried to be patient and understanding, but they seem to need something else. We’ve heard that some companies are contracting with corporate ministry services. Is this practice legal or advisable? —S.S., Virginia
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Q. When, if ever, can our company legally ask an applicant about his or her religious affiliation? —R.M., Illinois
Q. We terminated an employee after we caught him downloading software and movies onto his own CDs and DVDs. After he left, we found discs that contained copied movies in his desk. Now he's asking for his belongings back. Are we required to return the discs? —D.V.
Q. We have a payroll manager who handles our payroll and FMLA policies. In our last audit, we were told that because her primary duty is payroll, she did not fall under the administrative exemption. Is that true? —Juliette, Florida
Q. Is it legal to require that employees on FMLA leave report to us regularly on their plans to return to work? —P.R., New York
Q. Can I consider safety in deciding whether to hire an applicant or retain an employee with a disability? —G.P., Pennsylvania
When deciding whom to promote, make sure you're using an impartial selection process to pick the best candidate. That's the only way to stay on safe legal ground ...
If your organization contracts out security services, the Texas Supreme Court has just handed you a substantial victory that makes it less likely you'll be liable if your independent-contractor security guard injures someone ...
Q. We require, as a condition of employment, that our employees agree to resolve all disputes by binding arbitration, rather than going to court. One of my friends said a lot of the government agencies don't like those kinds of arbitration policies and one agency even decided that they were illegal. I know lots of employers have binding arbitration, so I don't think that could be right, but thought I better check. —S.T.
A federal judge in the Northern District of Texas recently dismissed a Title VII discrimination lawsuit brought by a lesbian nurse who claimed that she was fired because of her sexuality and appearance ...