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Carl Crosby Lehmann

Q. Due to a downturn in business, we are planning to close one of our stores. Ten employees will be affected. Do we have to give any advance notice to the employees of their layoff?

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Q. We’re considering using an online pre-employment screening test designed to determine if an applicant is the right fit for our business. Are there any risks associated with using such tests?

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Q. We use an outside company to conduct criminal background checks on applicants. The company asked us if we were interested in having it conduct searches on applicants’ past civil claims. Is that something we should do?

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There aren’t many published court opinions analyzing the propriety of company policies aimed at guiding employees on appropriate use of social media. However, a recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision is one of the first in the state to provide such guidance.

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Q. We have an employee who is returning to work for us after having worked for a competitor. Nor­mally, we require new employees to agree to a noncompete, with a 15-mile-radius restriction. In this case, we’d like to extend the area to a 30-mile zone around our facility. Can we have a different arrangement with her than the one we have with our other employees?

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Q. I have a couple of questions about the parenting leave. We have 33 employees, so we are not subject to the FMLA. Can we require an employee to give ad­­vance notice of the need for leave to HR instead of the employee’s supervisor? Also, can we require em­­ployees to substitute paid vacation days while on leave?

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Q. We just fired an employee after discovering that he stole $5,000 from the company. Do we have to pay the employee his final paycheck or can we apply that paycheck toward the $5,000 he owes us?

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Q. An executive wants to retire in one year and gradually reduce her schedule until then. Our business needs don’t allow us to have this executive role be part-time on a long-term basis. Can we approve this request on the condition that the executive sign an agreement binding her to retire within one year?

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Q. One of our employees secretly used his iPhone to make an audio recording of his review meeting. Is that legal?

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In April 2011, the Social Security Administration resumed the practice of sending no-match letters, which notify an employer of a discrepancy between information they reported on an employee’s W-2 form and information in the SSA’s database. The DOJ’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices recently issued the following “do’s and don’ts” regarding no-match letters:

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Q. We are interested in hiring someone who is currently working for another company in H-1B status. Do we have to file a new H-1B application before this person can work for our company? If so, how long do we have to wait until he can start work?

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Q. One of our employees tripped and fell at work. Days later, he came in with a doctor’s note ordering light-duty restrictions. The doctor’s note also ordered an “ergonomic workstation study” to be done by the employer. Is this something we are obligated to do?

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Q. One of our employees has a recurring illness that flares up every so often. By taking a few weeks off here and there, he has used all of his paid time off (PTO) and exhausted his FMLA leave. If he has another flare-up, do we have to permit him to take time off even though it would be more than the FMLA requires or our policies allow?

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Q. An employee has posted some very unflattering things about the company on her Facebook page. Is there anything we need to consider before taking disciplinary action against her?

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Q. We have an employee who has been off work for more than 10 months because of a workers’ comp-covered injury. We have no idea when she may possibly be able to return to work. Are we absolutely required under the law to give this employee her job back whenever she believes she is ready to return to work, no matter how long she has been out?

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Q. We recently fired an employee because of insubordination and anger-management issues. The termination meeting, not surprisingly, didn’t go well and the employee became very agitated. He made some statements that could be interpreted as vague threats against his supervisor and our company. Is there anything we can or should do to protect ourselves from this former employee?

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Q. We just had a successful salesperson quit his job and join one of our major competitors. We did not, unfortunately, have him sign either a noncompete agreement or a confidential information agreement. We are very concerned that he may have taken, and may be using, some of our company’s confidential business information, including detailed customer information. Is there anything we can do about this situation, given the absence of any written contract?

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A new customer demands delivery on a weekend. A crush of work means shifts will have to keep running at unusual hours. Either way, you’re staring down the possibility that you’ll have to pay overtime. Can you legally avoid OT by altering workers’ regular schedules so no one works more than 40 hours in a workweek?

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Q. We recently received a complaint of harassment from an employee of one of the contractors we hire to do some work around our facility. I know, of course, all about our duty to prevent and stop sexual and other kinds of harassment of our own employees. But we don’t have a duty to do the same for the employees of another company, do we?

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Q. A few employees have told me recently they are fed up with their union and would like to get rid of it. How can I help them? We’d be glad to get rid of the union, too.

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