Legal Clinic

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How Much to Disclose?
Question: We just completed an internal investigation into allegations of discrimination and found the evidence did not substantiate the claim. Are we required by law to tell the complaining employee -- who keeps asking about the investigation -- sensitive information uncovered by the investigation? If not, is there a best practice for how much information HR should share about an investigation and its results with the complaining employee?
Rewriting the Employee Handbook
Question: We are in the process of reviewing our company's handbook to make sure it contains the necessary policies required by law -- or at least the policies that are best practice to have. Can you let us know (1) what policies are required by law to have in a handbook and (2) what policies are just best practices for an employer to include in a handbook?
Addressing Peer-to-Peer Bullying
Question: We have heard rumors that one of our employees is feeling bullied by another employee. Does an employee have a cause of action against an employer for workplace bullying? Is there a suggested course of action we should take to prevent bullying in the workplace to avoid litigation?
Alcoholism-Related Terminations
Question: I've read news stories about former employees suing employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act for terminating their employment on account of them suffering from alcoholism. Does the ADA prohibit an employer from terminating an alcoholic employee if that employee has sub-standard performance?
The Liability Issues of Joint Employment
Question: If I employ someone jointly with another employer, can I be liable for the other employer's discriminatory acts towards that employee?
Of Disabilities and 'Significant Threats'
Question: In HR, we often become aware of disabilities affecting our employees. If it is determined that an employee's disability poses a significant threat to others, can we terminate that employee?
Free Speech or Punishable Offense?
Question: Our company was just posted about by a disgruntled employee on a website that is geared toward publicizing and embarrassing employers. The posting says some very unnecessarily nasty and hurtful personal things about some of our supervisors, and we are considering reprimanding the poster but do not want to run afoul of any laws. Can we reprimand the poster, or would his posting be considered freedom of speech?
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?
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