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The HR Specialist

Managers spend a good part of their workday listening to other people. But bear in mind, there’s a big difference between “passive” and “active” listening. In many cases, managers are too busy thinking about their response rather than listening to the employee’s full statement. In a business setting, this lack of attention can result in […]

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Employers may think last year’s U.S. Supreme Court Ledbetter decision means employees can’t wait years before complaining about sex discrimination if the issue is pay. Surprise! It’s not always true …

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While all economic cycles share certain features, they also have unique effects. What’s different for HR in the 2008 downturn versus the last one? Here are three distinctive characteristics of the current economic slump that are affecting your employees—and potentially reshaping your HR programs:

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Employees who have disabilities sometimes pose special challenges. Accommodating their work restrictions requires diligence and flexibility. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should ignore declining performance …

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Some lawsuits are based on just a few careless comments from a supervisor. That’s especially true in cases involving employees who take time off under the FMLA. Managers who refer to these problems as “distractions” and comment on their impact on the workplace are inviting employees to sue …

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Sometimes, it seems as if every employee who ever filed a complaint about real or imagined discrimination follows up with a retaliation lawsuit. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court loosened the requirements for proving retaliation, lawyers have had a field day. At least the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has begun reining in these lawsuits …

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Q. One of our managers keeps notes of performance issues in a file that he uses for completing performance appraisals. One person he supervises has made a written request to see her personnel file—and specifically asked for information in the manager’s file. Do we have to give the notes to the employee? …

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Q. We are a small shop with 15 employees. One of our full-time employees who has been with us for more than five years recently announced that his wife is pregnant. He requested eight weeks’ leave after the baby is born. Are we required to give him this leave? …

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Q. Why is it that so many companies refuse to give references for former employees? …

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Federal anti-discrimination law gives employees either 180 or 300 days (depending on the state they live in) to file an employment discrimination claim with the EEOC. Pro-employee legislation that aimed to extend that limit much further failed in Congress this month.

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