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The HR Specialist: Georgia Employment Law

Some call the on-again, off-again (on, as of press time) U.S. Senate immigration-reform bill an offer of “amnesty” for millions of lawbreaking, undocumented immigrants. But Tommy Bagwell, CEO of American Proteins, Inc.—a poultry byproducts rendering plant in Cumming—says that’s hogwash …

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That’s the lesson for University of Georgia women’s golf coach Todd McCorkle, who resigned in the wake of complaints from several players that he frequently made inappropriate sexual jokes and comments …

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 Q. We recently rejected an applicant for employment after a background check revealed that he was fired from a previous job for stealing. He has since advised us that he received “first offender” treatment for the crime, and that the rejection therefore violates his rights. Is he correct?

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Q. Our plant manager wants to implement a policy requiring employees to pay for lost or damaged equipment through payroll deductions. Can we do that?

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Q. Our company uses the sheriff’s office to run criminal background checks on all finalists for employment. Our application form notifies the applicants that their criminal histories might be reviewed, but we do not provide any further notice to them. Our new personnel director is adamant that this practice is in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Is she correct?

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Q. We have an employee who insists that he is entitled to take off a full eight-hour day with pay to donate blood. What is the law in Georgia regarding an employee’s right to take paid leave for this purpose?

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The ADA is designed to help disabled Americans work to their full potential. But the law wasn’t meant to apply to everyone with minor aches, pains and ailments. That’s why most employees with light lifting restrictions aren’t covered by the law

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It’s one of the most challenging FMLA problems: An employee with a chronic health condition says she needs intermittent leave and uses it as an excuse to take time off whenever she wants. You suspect she’s taking advantage of your organization, but worry that turning her down may trigger an FMLA lawsuit

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If your managers have been less than consistent about enforcing attendance policies, suddenly sticking to the rules could prompt lawsuits. But you can start enforcing the rules now without triggering trouble if you do it the right way

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Have you ever wished you could have a verbatim record of an HR conversation, just as a hedge against a “he said, she said” dispute in court? Don’t hide a tape recorder under your desk until you’ve considered this

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Problem employees—the kind that see discrimination, harassment and retaliation every time a supervisor so much as issues an oral warning for anything—won’t hesitate to sue and charge retaliation. They may even seek redress for minor slights by requesting FMLA leave and trying to trip you up if your response is not to their liking

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Consider this scenario: Your organization needs to have repairs done to your premises and you hire an independent contractor to do the job. When one of the workers is hurt after the contractor ignores obvious safety hazards, is your organization on the hook if the injured employee looks around for deep pockets to sue?

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The city of Fort Oglethorpe had to scramble to find insurance after the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency canceled its property and liability coverage due to excessive claims …

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An inventory manager lost a discrimination lawsuit against the Atlanta Community Food Bank because he failed to meet the ADA’s disability standard …

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The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a construction superintendent killed in an auto accident was covered by workers’ compensation benefits, even though he was on leave to run personal errands at the time of the crash …

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Two-and-a-half years and $7.2 million into its contract with New York-based Vitech Systems Group, an employee benefits system provider, the state of Georgia is looking for a refund …

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Stephen Taylor of Canton, co-owner of Marietta-based 20/20 Payroll Solutions, pleaded guilty to stealing $4 million in employee taxes from more than 100 clients during the past two years …

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Georgia’s labor code contains no overtime exemption for commission-paid employees, but the federal Fair Labor Standards Act does. Georgia employers largely follow the federal law because it’s more stringent than state law. So employees who are paid on a commission basis are exempt from overtime laws, right?

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OSHA has begun contacting employers that were sent Ergonomic Hazard Alert Letters over the past five years. It’s the agency’s latest effort in its 20-year battle to regulate ergonomic hazards

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Who pays for an employee’s personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves and steel-toed shoes): the employer or the employee? Federal regulations are unclear in most cases. But that may be changing

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