Legal Issues

Offering extra leave as hiring incentive: Any risk?

July 11, 2012
Q. We are considering hiring a new RN. She is requesting an extra week of vacation above what our company policy offers. Would we be discriminating against our other full-time employees if we grant her request? — W.P., Illinois

Documentation: Not for your eyes only

May 9, 2012
Under the rules of “discovery,” employees (and courts) are privy to almost any employment-related document during a dispute. Keep that in mind when you’re preparing in-house documents, formal and informal. Here are a few do’s and don’ts.

Harassment response: Your 3-phrase script

March 26, 2012

How should you react if one of your employees confides that she’s being harassed? It better be something more constructive than, “Go along with it.” All managers (and everyone else with reporting responsibilities) should use a simple, consistent three-phrase script:

Worker returning after leave? Just say, ‘Welcome back!’

March 23, 2012
Here’s a tip that doesn’t cost anything to implement and may prevent a lawsuit: When employees return from an illness, medical leave or other absences, make them feel welcome—and don’t publicly focus on any lingering problems.

Asthma and allergies aren’t always disabilities

January 31, 2012
Some employees claim they have asthma and allergies that are exacerbated by common workplace smells. That doesn’t mean, however, that em­­ployers have to create an allergen-free environment.

Warn bosses: Don’t ask about caregivers’ responsibilities

September 2, 2011
Employees can sue for discrimination based on being associated with a disabled individual. Employers must make sure they don’t use such associations as factors in job decisions. More employees are claiming that supervisors are discriminating against them because of fear that caring for a disabled individual will affect job performance.

Travel, commuting time: When must employers pay?

August 16, 2011
Determining when and how much to pay employees for their travel and commuting time is a complex subject. Here are answers to 7 questions about travel time and the FLSA

Work environment: There’s ugly and then there’s biased

August 8, 2011
Some employees think employers must make sure nothing unpleasant happens at work. By cloaking workplace annoyances in the mantle of sex, age, race or some other form of discrimination, the employee may believe he has grounds for a lawsuit. But if you investigate the complaint and find no evidence of a hostile work environment, you don’t have to do anything.

HR can’t always save the day when bosses go overboard

March 14, 2011
HR can’t right all wrongs. When a supervisor rashly fires an employee for filing a complaint, not even fast action by HR to reinstate the employee can save the company from liability.

Alcoholism: a disability; drunkenness: a firing offense

February 11, 2011
Alcoholism may be a disability, but that doesn’t mean alcoholic employees can get away with showing up at work a little tipsy.