Employment Law

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Extreme views online: Can we refuse to hire?

May 13, 2015
Q. When checking out an applicant we were considering offering a job to, we found rather disturbing rants online from this individual. Can we deny the applicant employment based on this? — Dee, Virginia
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Worker has body odor: What can I legally do?

May 13, 2015
Q. An employee’s hygiene seems to be getting the best of the rest of the staff. Can I approach this person and address this without stirring up legal trouble?
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Judge makes it crystal clear: Question about accent not enough for a lawsuit

May 12, 2015
Asking a simple question such as what type of accent an employee has or what country he grew up in won’t be enough to prove national-origin discrimination. Courts expect employees to talk to one another and without evidence that curiosity about an accent or a co-worker’s background is tied to some sort of discrimination, judges won’t hold employers liable for national-origin discrimination.
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Retaining younger workers but terminating older ones? Better have a good reason

May 8, 2015
If you happen to fire an older worker but retain younger ones, you should expect a potential age discrimination lawsuit. If you’re prepared, you stand a dramatically better chance of winning.
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Never tie performance woes to disability

April 14, 2015
Warn bosses that they should never link an employee’s performance deficiencies to a supposed disability. The focus should be strictly on what the worker has or hasn’t accomplished and how that compares to your standards—not on underlying reasons for success or failure.
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Regularly check your bulletin board and other spots for offensive material

April 14, 2015
When was the last time you walked around the workplace with an eye for potentially offensive materials on walls, bulletin boards or cubicles? Making it a routine practice can help prevent a hostile environment lawsuit.
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Distracted driving: A reminder of the risks

April 14, 2015
Managers should be aware of the risks of contacting employees who are driving vehicles.
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Lessons from the courts: Nooses, dinosaurs and repeat offenders

April 6, 2015
Here’s what managers need to take away from recent lawsuits in the news.
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Are Skyped meetings compensable?

March 19, 2015
Q: Department managers conduct monthly meetings in person and via Skype for employees who are off, so they don’t have to come in and attend the meetings. Must we pay a minimum amount of hours?
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In some cases, a lateral transfer could be seen as retaliation

March 12, 2015

Employees who complain about alleged discrimination, either to their employer or to an agency such as the EEOC, are protected from retaliation. However, the retaliation has to be something that would persuade a reasonable employee not to complain in the first place. Ordinarily, that requires a so-called adverse employment action like discharge or demotion. Lesser actions, such as a lateral transfer, don’t count. That is, unless that transfer carries with it serious consequences—such as a dramatically longer commute.

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