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Responding to Claims of Sexual Harassment

Dear HR:

One of my female employees left a handwritten note on my chair alleging sexual harassment by a male coworker. The allegations are lurid and serious. I know the accuser to be an honest, trustworthy employee. I feel like I need to take action ASAP, but am not sure where to start. What’s next?

Signed, Confused supervisor

Despite widespread attention in the media, advances in awareness and…

Signing Bonus Trends & Tips

With the unprecedented talent shortages being experienced in just about every industry and geography, employers have been turning to less conventional approaches to enhance job offers. One such approach becoming more widespread is a signing bonus. While this is not uncommon for more senior level positions, it’s traditionally not as prevalent among entry level new hires. Recent examples include:

  • Amazon offered a signing bonus of up to $3,000 to warehouse and logistics applicants as part of its massive holiday hiring initiative. Bonus amounts varied based on geographic market, part-time vs. full-time status, work shifts, etc.

  • Dear HR – ADA Implications of Extended Medical Leaves

    Prolonged medical absences with indefinite timelines and lack of clear justification can be paralyzing to business leaders and HR managers, particularly in smaller work environments. Although employers may feel entitled to more information than the employee is providing, they may not be entirely clear about the implications of asking for medical documentation.

    Employers with less than 50 employees not subject to the Family & Medical Leave Act in particular, may adopt less rigorous procedures when dealing with medical leaves. And, in what I’ve seen become more of the norm, employers in this space are not requiring documentation from employees to…

Dear HR – Employees with Valid Medical Marijuana Credentials

The ongoing emotional stress, isolation and uncertainty of COVID-19 has, unfortunately, led to dramatic increases in substance abuse and overdoses. According to a CDC study conducted in June 2020, 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19. Another grim statistic from the CDC is the number of people who died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending last June. The total number was more than 81,000, a 20% increase year-over-year, and the highest number of fatal overdoses ever recorded in the U.S. in a single…

Dear HR – How to Handle an Employee’s Positive COVID Test

As restrictions continue to be lifted and “COVID fatigue” accelerates, it is important for employers to continue to manage the challenges presented by the pandemic. Here is some insight on current quarantine guidelines that may help you navigate the ongoing pandemic.

For those who may have been exposed – if they have not been vaccinated or have not had COVID-19 within the past three months and were in “close contact” with the employee, they’ll need to get tested and wait until a negative test result is confirmed before returning to their work location. If the test result is positive, they’ll…

Dear HR – Immunity Based Inquiries for Job Applicants

Employers may be tempted to ask job applicants about COVID-19, and whether or not the applicant has contracted the virus and since recovered. This line of inquiry may be triggered by a belief that a candidate who has developed antibody-based immunity would be unlikely to be infected a second time. Seems reasonable, even responsible, right?

Well, anyone familiar with the employment law arena is likely aware that although federal agency-based rulemaking may have the best interest of our citizens at heart, it can leave employers scratching their heads, confused about intent, and concerned about compliance.

At the heart of immunity-based inquiries…

Joe Biden is President-Elect: What’s Next for Employers?

While the outcome of the Georgia Senate race could make much of what follows more impactful for employers, the preferences of President-elect Biden when it comes to the workplace are well-documented. Whether it’s the COVID-19 response, labor and workers’ rights, diversity or healthcare, there’s a lot of potential change in the wind for employers. Again, much of this could be tempered by the makeup of the Senate, however, business owners and HR policy owners should keep what follows on their radar.

Addressing COVID-19
Various sources suggest that addressing the pandemic will be the new Administration’s number one priority. Employers could see…

Mandating COVID-19 Vaccinations? What Employers Should Consider

The FDA has authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use and rollout has begun. While access to the vaccine is currently limited due to prioritization restrictions and logistical challenges, we can assume that the vaccine will become available to the general public at some point in 2021. How will you address vaccination with your workforce? Have you thought about mandating a COVID-19 vaccination for all employees? Have you wondered if it would be legal to do so? Whether there may be exceptions to consider?

Generally speaking, other than in the several states that permit philosophical objections to receiving vaccines, employers…

Workplace Assessments: What you Don’t Know CAN Hurt You!

Much like in assessing our own physical health through an annual checkup, businesses need to monitor their health, too. Particularly in matters pertaining to their employees. Whether you have a dedicated HR function or not, your company’s HR practices and procedures play a significant role in your ability to manage workplace related risk and attract and retain talent. Are your policies and practices in compliance with statutory regulations? Do you know? When was the last time you pressed “pause,” and took the time to review them?

In today’s environment of a more self-educated workforce, employees’ sensitivity to their rights, and…

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