Monthly Archives: June 2010

When a salaried employee must be disciplined, does the company have to suspend the employee for a full week without pay?

The week-long suspension is often the last chance disciplinary action before termination. Unpaid suspensions are used as a final attempt to improve an employee’s behavior. This action brings to light the financial consequences of continued behavior issues – an adult…

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Does disciplinary action have to be consistently applied across different departments? For example: Can one supervisor give official verbal reprimands for a minor infraction while another supervisor does not give reprimands for the same infraction? (From California)

This is a grey area in California. It is OK to treat exempt and hourly employees differently. It is OK to treat employees in different jobs differently but when employees have the same job, treating them differently can open the…

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What is the definition of “Seasonal Employee” and what are the drawbacks and benefits of using this classification? (From Illinois)

This is an area where state laws vary greatly. Illinois defines seasonal as an employee hired for less than 16 weeks. Even employees that meet the “seasonal” classification are entitled to minimum wage and overtime. Rather than calling these workers…

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One of our managers makes no secret of playing favorites when assigning work hours. Is this a problem?

It may be surprising but favoritism is legal in most cases. It will certainly cause workplace friction and dissatisfaction and is not a good practice but it is legal. This favoritism become very illegal when it is (or appears to…

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We would like our applicants to work in the real environment for a couple of hours to see how they perform and fit in with the existing team. Is this legal?

This is a violation of several laws – both state and federal. This policy violates minimum wage laws by requiring work without pay. Even if you pay the applicants there are other major problems. Applicants are not covered under workers…

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Can a supervisor tell employees to decide which of them will change shifts due to too much time off under FMLA? Is this a violation of FMLA confidentiality rules?

FMLA has no specific confidentiality rules. When an employee takes too much time off other employees may wonder if there is some favoritism. The use of FMLA time off can explain the absences to the other employees and dilute feelings…

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Can an employer require applicants to perform actual work to demonstrate their skills and experience?

A company cannot require applicants to perform actual work that benefits the company without paying the applicant for the work. Any demonstration of skills should be done on a”mock-up” basis on non-live data and the work cannot be used to…

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Can a hiring manager discuss applicants with persons outside the company?

Very few laws protect applicant confidentiality. References and background checks are regularly discussed as part of the screening process for applicants. This is completely legal. Even casual gossip about applicants, while showing poor business judgment, is not prohibited. Some applicants…

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