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Legal Clinic

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Handling Complaints Properly
Is the company required to investigate complaints that come in to me at training sessions (outside of the standard procedure) or can we require the employee to first follow the standard complaint procedure before we address the complaint?
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Terminating an Addicted Employee
We have an employee who is a chronic prescription drug abuser. He has not been performing at work but every time we try to terminate him for cause, he immediately enters a drug rehabilitation program in order to avoid termination under the ADA, claiming that he has a disability. Does the ADA require that we keep this under-performing employee on our payroll just because he is enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program?
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Avoiding Unemployment Discrimination
A lot of attention has been paid to proposed or enacted legislation that prohibits discrimination in hiring practices against job applicants who are currently unemployed. Can you give us an overview of: (i) the states that have enacted this sort of legislation; (ii) the key provisions of the legislation; (iii) the states that have proposed such legislation; and (iv) what employers can do to prepare and comply?
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Employing Minors
With the summer around the corner, our company has gotten a lot of applications from teenagers and 18-year-olds. We would like to hire them, but don't want to violate any federal or state laws that deal with the employment of minors. What federal and state laws apply to employing people who are 18 and under, and what are the requirements that we have to meet? We are in the food and beverage manufacturing industry.
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A 'Very Uncomfortable' Request for FMLA Leave
We have a very uncomfortable situation at work. One of our employees has asked for FMLA paternity leave to take care of a newborn child whom he claims is his. The problem is, this employee did not give us any prior notice of the birth, and his wife (whom he lives with) is not the mother of this child. He has apparently fathered this child with one of the women whom he has been having an affair with. Can we ask this employee to provide us proof that he is, in fact, the father of this child as a requirement for granting him FMLA leave?
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FMLA and In Loco Parentis
Question: One of our employees has requested FMLA leave to care for a child with a serious health condition that he is not the biological father of, but whom he has taken an active role in raising. All other requirements for eligibility for FMLA leave have been met but because this employee is not the child's biological parent and there is no legal parent-child relationship between him and the child (he has not legally adopted the child, though he has been raising him) we are uncertain whether the law requires us to grant him the requested FMLA leave. Does it?
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Auditing the HR Department
Question: The CEO of my company has asked that I perform an audit of our HR department. I haven't done one before. Can you explain the process and provide some ideas of what specifically to look for. Also, are there any drawbacks we might face to doing an audit?
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A Checklist for Terminations
Question: Can you provide us with a termination checklist or cheat sheet? As HR professionals, we often have the difficult duty of handling terminations. Can you give us a list of things we need to do and/or prepare (a) before the employee's last date of employment, (b) on the employee's last date of employment and (c) after the last date of employment so that the process takes place smoothly and we reduce litigation risk?
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Best Practices for Dealing with Workplace Violence
Question: Workplace violence is becoming a disturbing fact of life these days. Can you suggest some pre-emptive steps that HR professionals and employers can take to (a) best reduce the threat and (b) respond to it if and when it occurs so that we protect our employees and the company?
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Are Written Job Descriptions A Requirement?
Our company does not provide written job descriptions for employees. Should we have them? If so, what topics should be included in a job description?
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Jury Duty and the Employer's Obligation
Are employers required to pay employees who are out on jury duty? If so, do they have to pay employees a full day's salary while on jury duty? Can employers require them to return to work if they get out of jury duty early for the day?
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FMLA Obligations to Independent Contractors
Are companies required to save an independent contractor's job after he or she returns to work after addressing a medical condition?
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Working Through a Natural Disaster
Are employers required to remain closed in areas where the government has declared a state of emergency during a natural disaster?
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Can We Require Our Workers to Speak English?
Can an employer require its employees to speak only English while at work? One company recently enacted an English-only rule and several employees have already complained.
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Is It Legal to Ask for Only Male Applicants?
Our company is comprised of predominantly female employees and we want to increase the number of male workers on our staff. Would we run into any legal issues if we placed an advertisement for our vacant positions and requested that only male applicants apply?
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Recording Conversations with the C-Suite
We have just learned that some employees have been secretly tape recording conversations they have with management. Is there something we can do to prohibit this?
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Requirements for Religious Holidays
With a lot of religious holidays coming up, are employers required to give employees days off for their religious holidays? If so, do they have to give them paid time off?
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The Difficulties of Discussing Hygiene
How do you best handle an employee who comes to work with offensive body odor? My HR department has been receiving complaints about this employee and I believe we will need to speak with her.
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