Legal Issues

The wage-and-hour risks of rounding time

May 19, 2022
The DOL says employers should discourage “major discrepancies” between “clock records and actual hours worked.” In other words, frequent and repeated rounding could call into question the accuracy of an employer’s overall time records. So what’s an employer to do?

What do we do if an employee states a medical condition, but doesn’t ask for accommodation?

May 16, 2022
Q: “A new exempt employee has been having issues completing tasks, and has stated he forgets because he was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. We sent a reasonable accommodation request form to be completed by the employee and his physician (and included a full job description). On the first deadline, the employee called out sick. We waited a few days past the deadline and sent a request renewal extending the due date. The employee responded that he would not be requesting an accommodation at this time. Since the employee disclosed to his supervisor his condition as a reason for not competing work and missing deadlines, what are our obligations at this time? Do we still have an exposure because he made the statement? He has been out frequently.”  – Lorraine, New York

Do grandparents ever qualify for FMLA leave to care for a grandchild?

May 16, 2022
Q: “An employee has a 30-year-old daughter with mental health issues who lives with her. The daughter recently had a premature baby currently in the NICU. The employee (her grandmother) is asking for FMLA to take care of the baby when it comes home and needs to know if this would qualify under FMLA. The grandmother has not been appointed guardian of the baby.” —Ann, Florida

Cost of an unwanted birthday party: $450,000

April 28, 2022
Pro tip for managers: Listen to your employees! It generally makes for a more harmonious and productive workplace. In the following case, it could have prevented an unforced error that wound up costing an employer a six-figure jury award.

Document all accommodation conversations

April 14, 2022
Here’s the best way to prevent (or win) a lawsuit claiming you failed to follow the ADA’s interactive accommodations rules: Document every conversation, email, text or phone call related to disability accommodations. Create a chronological log showing what the employee requested, when and how you responded.

OK to penalize fighting, even if provoked

March 31, 2022
Will Smith’s Oscar night slap upside Chris Rock’s head may have only bruised celebrity egos, but it shined a spotlight on the importance of preventing physical conflict in professional settings. For employers, that usually means enforcing a strict policy that prohibits all physical violence.

Beware medical inquiries before making job offer

March 24, 2022
When hiring, asking the wrong question can be an expensive mistake. In one recent case, a worker who wasn’t even looking for a job walked away with a $75,000 payday because of a prospective employer’s ill-conceived question.

War puts national origin bias in the spotlight

March 17, 2022
After 9/11, workplace harassment of Muslims increased in the United States. During COVID, the EEOC reported a spike in discrimination against workers of Asian descent. Now legal experts are warning that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing some Russian-American employees in this country—and even simply employees with Eastern European accents—to be harassed and discriminated against based on their national origin.

Follow 3-part plan for returning to work

March 3, 2022
New CDC guidance maps the way from pandemic to endemic, like influenza. Coronavirus may become something that’s always there—hovering in the background—that we learn to work around. For employers, making that transition will require following a three-part strategy.

Provide lactation privacy for new mothers

February 17, 2022
For more than a decade, federal law has required employers with 50 or more employees to provide reasonable break time for workers to express breast milk for up to one year after the child’s birth. The other key part: Employers must also offer a private location (not a bathroom) that is shielded from view and free from interruptions.