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The HR Specialist: Ohio Employment Law

The way an individual speaks can convey more than the actual words he or she uses. Body language, tone of voice and other mannerisms (such as rolled eyes) are also powerful communication. But that doesn’t mean that an otherwise neutral statement delivered with what an employee thinks is a demeaning tone can be the sole basis for a lawsuit.

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A union official will have 366 days to contemplate her actions after being convicted of embezzling from Portsmouth’s Carpenters Union Local 437.

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Employees who get into arguments may be violating workplace rules. But that doesn’t mean that firing them cuts off possible unemployment compensation benefits.

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An employee’s casual remark to HR can lay the groundwork for a retaliation claim if the comment could be interpreted as objecting to some form of discrimination. That’s good reason to train HR staff to report all comments and consider them as protected activity.

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Smart employers don’t leave it up to a direct supervisor to manage ADA reasonable accommodation. Instead, they work out a system that requires HR’s oversight. Otherwise, a boss with a grudge could set up a disabled employee to fail—and set the table for a costly ADA lawsuit.

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Employees with serious medical conditions that require occasional time off are entitled to intermittent FMLA leave. If you grant leave and the employee makes a new request that wasn’t specified in the original medical certification, you can insist on a new certification.

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Do you have an employee who just doesn’t seem capable of doing his job? If you document the shortcomings, you can create a special test designed to measure improvement. Just be sure to provide appropriate training materials as part of your effort.

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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 dominates this year’s employment-related Supreme Court docket, with the Justices hearing two cases involving Title VII of that landmark law. Also to be decided between now and next June: cases involving the FLSA and ERISA.

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Employees who have taken FMLA leave and then been fired often sue. However, all is not lost for ­employers faced with such a case—if they can show they would have fired the em­­ployee anyway. In fact, chances are, they’ll win.

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A bill before the Ohio Senate could thoroughly revamp how employees file complaints about workplace discrimination and harassment—and greatly benefit employers that have robust anti-discrimination and harassment policies and practices.

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Warn supervisors to stay away from demeaning jokes and other offensive, sexually oriented comments.

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The El Nacho Grande chain, with restaurants in Cincinnati and Dayton, faces a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit after investigators found evidence that the company’s pay policies violate the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Employers can’t terminate em­­ployees just because a sick dependent increases health insurance costs for the employer. That violates ERISA. But if the employee is terminated for unrelated gross misconduct, he has no ERISA or COBRA claim.

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When those at the top of the organizational chart make racist and other offensive comments, trouble is sure to follow. Not only do slurs often bring negative publicity, but they also taint otherwise independent employment decisions.

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Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Com­pen­sation is trying to reduce the amount of powerful narcotics prescribed for injured workers receiving workers’ comp benefits.

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Do you have an employee you think is acting strangely? Do you think she might benefit from counseling? Before you tell her she needs to get help, consider that she just might try to sue you instead. That’s especially true if she refuses counseling and then loses her job.

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Here’s some encouragement for HR professionals caught in a seemingly no-win situation. If you are fired for insisting that the company comply with anti-discrimination laws, you probably can sue.

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Employers that promptly investigate sexual harassment claims aren’t liable for co-worker harassment.

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Sometimes, a female applicant believes that she has the skills and ability to do a very strenuous job even if she hasn’t tried before. Go ahead and give her a chance, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, you can terminate her. Just make sure you document everything.

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As long as you treat all employees equally, courts won’t second-guess your decision to fire someone for ­violating an anti-violence policy.

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