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The HR Specialist

Q. We have a problem with the union steward in our plant. He seems to think that his primary responsibility is working for the union, and that his job is secondary. He spends an inordinate amount of time filing and working on grievances. Are we required to pay an employee who is the union steward for time spent on union activities? …

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Q. Our company has a policy requiring employees who are leaving the company to participate in an exit interview. One of the requirements is to check that the terminated employee has returned all company property, including company manuals, laptop computers, identification badges and similar items. Frequently we don’t get everything back that we should. It has been suggested that we hold the employee’s final paycheck until he or she returns all company property. Do you see any problem with adopting such a policy? …

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Employees sometimes think that just about any minor medical or physical problem is a disability protected under the ADA. Simply put, that just isn’t the case. As the following case shows, being unable to sit for a few hours at a time isn’t a covered disability …

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You have an obligation under state and federal disability laws to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations. But sometimes accommodations don’t improve attendance or performance. Sometimes the disabled employee doesn’t cooperate. In those cases, what are your options? …

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It doesn’t take much for a sex discrimination complaint to turn into a trial. Sometimes all it takes to start a Title VII sex discrimination and Equal Pay Act lawsuit is hiring a woman to fill a position that had been previously held by men who made more money …

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More and more former service members are using the benefits Congress provided when it passed USERRA. In a recent decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals excused a former service member from even the most minimal of requirements before filing suit. That case is clearly part of a trend, one that may lead to more litigation for organizations that employ veterans …

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It may be tempting for HR professionals to try to negotiate and draft key aspects of union collective-bargaining agreements. But there are good reasons to leave collective bargaining to labor relations and legal experts …

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Some industries are prone to emergencies that suddenly increase the workload. And some companies insist that all employees be available by phone or other means at least part of the time. That doesn’t mean, however, that those subject to a mandatory call-out must be paid for the time they spend waiting for a call …

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Q. Our company requires employees to obtain their supervisors’ prior approval for all overtime. Our management takes the position that it does not need to pay overtime if employees don’t get approval first. My understanding is that all hours worked must be paid. Which is correct? …

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Q. Our company has an employee who has taken FMLA leave to care for his sick child. His attendance record has been poor, but we have not documented our warnings as well as we should have. Our company has a rule that an employee has 15 days to have the treating doctor sign and return a form certifying the medical condition of the family member who is sick. We never received the signed form. The employee says that his doctor sent it. Can we terminate the employee? …

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