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The HR Specialist: Ohio Employment Law

When it comes to promotions, smart employers make sure they carefully document the selection process. That way, if an employee challenges the decision, the company will have something compelling to show the court.

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Having trouble persuading upper management to get proactive about harassment and hostility complaints? Remind them that ignoring such a problem will only make it ­fester—until someone decides to sue.

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Some employees mistakenly believe that when they take FMLA leave, they are guaranteed an unchanged job when they return. That’s not true. What the FMLA promises is that employees who take protected leave will be returned to the same or an equivalent job.

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Sometimes, seeing how another employer handles an HR problem can give you confidence you’re on the right track. That’s especially true if that other employer messes up really, really badly.

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Most religious discrimination lawsuits involve allegations of subtle mistakes—e.g., a manager didn’t understand that an em­­ployee had a legitimate need for religious accommodation. But there was nothing subtle about the allegations in a re­­­­cently settled case in­­volving Cincinnati-based Convergys Corp.

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Courts hold white employees who allege racial discrimination to a slightly higher standard than members of other protected classes. The higher standard is met if the white employee can show that the decision-maker is a member of another protected class.

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Here’s a tip that may prove in­­valuable if a former employee decides to sue over an alleged hostile work environment: Track and respond to every reported incident. That way, should a lawsuit later allege additional, more severe incidents, you are in a good position to argue they never happened.

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Except in very limited circumstances, an individual must actually apply for a position before he can challenge the decision to hire someone else.

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Workplace affairs almost always get messy, especially when they involve a supervisor and a subordinate. But that doesn’t mean that the subordinate is destined to win the case every time. If she can’t show that the affair was unwelcome, she won’t win.

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Here’s a tip if you use performance improvement plans (PIP) before termination. Track what happens to everyone who’s on a PIP. Note those who quit instead of facing discharge.

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OSHA has cited Troy-based welding equipment manufacturer Hobart Brothers Co. with 55 safety violations totaling $174,600 in fines.

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Sometimes, all it takes to stop sexual harassment (or behavior that could escalate to harassment) is to tell the individual to cut it out. But you’ll never know if it worked unless you follow up. You should periodically check back with those affected and note their response in your files.

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Employers that don’t take the time and effort to understand the ins and outs of the FMLA do so at their peril. Courts are beginning to lose patience and have started assessing employers double damages for FMLA violations. Something as simple as not making sure employees understand what method you use to calculate FMLA leave entitlements can mean huge liabilities …

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The FMLA provides leave for employees who need to care for seriously ill family members. Some employers argue that if several family members are providing care, they don’t have to approve FMLA leave if that means more than one family member would be present. That argument won’t fly.

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By a vote of 6-4, Cuyahoga County commissioners have approved a measure that will provide health insurance benefits to the children of gay partners of county employees.

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Employees won’t get far if they try to sue their employer over discipline that has yet to occur.

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After companies merge, there are often too many employees for the remaining available positions. That’s especially true when the new entity also reorganizes operations. Some employees will wind up on the chopping block. Be careful how you choose termination candidates. The best approach is to treat the decision like a hiring or promotion.

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Employers that find themselves in the cross hairs of the National Labor Relations Board should get expert legal help, especially if charged with unfair labor practices. That’s because once the NLRB concludes you fired employees for engaging in protected activity, it is very hard to argue against those employees’ eventual reinstatement.

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The Court of Appeals of Ohio has let stand a decision that denied unemployment benefits to a woman who quit her job so she could move with her husband to California.

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to uphold the “ministerial exception” that exempts religious institutions from having to comply with some employment laws has cleared the way for two lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

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