Legal Clinic

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Checking on Credit Checks
Question: I am an employer located in New York City, and I've heard that there are some recent developments in the use of credit checks by employers. My company's policy is to run credit checks as part of the background-check process on all applicants who receive a conditional offer of employment. Can we continue to run these credit checks without any restrictions?
Dealing with Third-Party Subpoenas
Question: I am the HR manager of a small company, and we have just received a third-party subpoena requesting documents related to one of our former employees. Can you please provide some guidance on what a third-party subpoena is exactly, what we need to do, and whether there are any issues we should be aware of in responding?
On Minimum Wage and Tips
Question: I run two small but successful restaurants. While business has been good, costs are high, so margins are always tight. We are always looking for ways to lower our expenses. We pay the hourly staff minimum wage, but they often make much more than that after tips. May we change our hourly rate to below minimum wage since the tips often bring them over that threshold?
OK to Reduce Benefits to Cut Costs?
Question: Given the ever-increasing costs of employee benefits, our senior executives have asked whether we can reduce employee benefits as a cost-cutting measure. Can an employer take steps to reduce employee benefits in order to cut costs?
Terminating an Employee on FMLA Leave
Question: My organization would like to terminate an employee who is currently on FMLA leave, for reasons unrelated to the leave. Can we properly lay off this employee?
On Paycheck Distribution
Question: I own several restaurants and I do not have a way to safely and efficiently distribute paychecks. Aside from distributing paychecks to employees at the workplace, what alternatives are available to employers to securely pay their employees, and what do I need to do to comply with federal and state laws?
Addressing Workplace Dress and Appearance
Question: My organization would like to implement a companywide dress code for all employees. What are some of the key issues that I should consider when putting together a dress policy?
Requesting Additional Leave
Question: We have an employee who has taken more than the allotted 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA, and is continuing to request additional leave as an accommodation under the ADA. How much leave time are we required to give employees under the ADA as a reasonable accommodation, and at what point will such leave constitute an undue hardship?
Telecommuting Policies When Inclement Weather Strikes
Question: With the winter refusing to release its icy grip, we have received numerous requests from employees asking to telecommute and work from home during inclement weather. What should we be mindful of when deciding whether to grant or deny these requests, and do you advise employers to maintain a telecommuting policy?
Drug Testing in the Workplace
Question: I suspect that one of my employees is taking drugs, but we don't have a drug-testing policy at our company. Can I have him drug tested?
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