Michael Fox — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Michael Fox

Q. Can we ask an employee who is on FMLA leave to come in to discuss the possibility of applying for a promotion? Might it be better to discuss this by phone?

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Q. Is it OK to contact an employee during FMLA leave or ask him or her to come in to the office?

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Q. May I terminate an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim?

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Q. What are some best practices employers can use to protect their trade secrets?

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Q. Our organization rarely if ever lets employees work from home. An employee in our marketing department is struggling with a disability and has asked to work from home as an accommodation. Would that be a reasonable accommodation?

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Q. The recruiting manager of our company is interviewing a deaf applicant for an open position. What should she keep in mind during the interview?

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Q. We have searched in the U.S. for a worker to fit a very specialized position at our company to no avail. We are considering using the H-1B program next year. How does the “lottery” process work?

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Q. Can I schedule employees to work every day of the week during our accounting firm’s busy season, or must I give them Sundays off?

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Q. When one of our two store managers goes on vacation, we want the other to cover both opening and closing shifts for a few days. However, this would give her only seven hours of rest between shifts. How much time between shifts must we give employees under Texas law?

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Q. Several of our employees have been issued company credit cards, intended to be used for company-related business only. However, one employee has occasionally used his card for personal purchases. Each time he has reimbursed the company for his personal purchases over the course of several months. Naturally, we are uncomfortable with this practice. What should we do?

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Q. Our policy prohibits employees from discussing their salaries and benefits with each other. This helps reduce untimely requests for raises, petty gossip and the inevitable questions about why one employee makes more than another. Is such a policy a good idea?

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Q. We are a private business that would like to prohibit our employees and customers from carrying firearms inside our corporate premises. May we do so?

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Q. An employee recently tested positive for drugs during a random drug screening that we periodically administer to ensure that our employees are able to safely operate our systems. The employee admitted that he regularly used drugs, and would like to take several weeks off to participate in a rehabilitation program. Does Texas law require us to grant him time off?

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Q. Occasionally, when we receive a big order, our nonexempt employees are required to work through their lunch breaks. Although we do not pay them for this work, we buy delicious lunches for all the affected workers. Is this lawful?

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Q. We have a team of nonexempt hourly employees who will soon be putting in significant overtime for an important project. May we compensate them for their overtime work with additional paid vacation time equal to the total accrued overtime?

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Q. One of our employees may be a victim of family violence. What are our legal obligations to provide leave for family violence victims under Texas and federal law?

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Q. One of our employees recently shouted at his supervisor, and in doing so violated a work rule. In the course of counseling and disciplining—but not discharging—this employee stated for the first time that he has a disorder which might have caused his conduct. May we still discipline this employee?

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Is nicotine addiction a disability?

by Michael Fox on November 12, 2015 10:00am

Q. An employee says she must be allowed to take smoke breaks. She claims she is so addicted to nicotine that she has a disability, and that therefore I must accommodate her requirements. If I don’t allow her to take smoke breaks, can she sue me?

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Q. I manage a popular sports bar. May I institute a tip-pooling policy?

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Q. I keep hearing about the new Texas open-carry law. Does this law apply to all offices? What steps should I take if the new legislation has a negative impact on my business?

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