Legal Clinic

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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?
Enforcing Separation Agreements
Question: My company recently underwent a reduction-in-force. As I was informing one of our employees that he was going to be let go, I handed him our standard separation agreement. He took a look at it and said to me "I'll sign it. This thing won't be enforceable anyway." Can my company continue giving terminated employees our standard severance agreement?
Marijuana at Work
Question: My company is located in New York, where a law permitting the use of medical marijuana was recently passed. I would like to know if this law, and similar laws passed in other states, protects employees from termination if they are found to be under the influence of marijuana while at work. In other words, how do the medical marijuana statutes impact an employer's right to enforce its Drug Free Workplace policy, and how do these laws affect an employee's right to reasonable accommodations under the ADA and similar state statutes?
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