Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

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Question of the Month

Q&A: Do we have harassment liability if a workplace relationship is consensual?

Question: An employee in a consensual, romantic relationship with a manager in another department has started complaining about “harassment,” which is really just her coworkers teasing her about the relationship. She’s also complaining that they’re having “problems” in the relationship which is spilling over into hostile treatment at work by the manager. The owner is ready to terminate her for continuing to bring her drama into the workplace. Are there any legal concerns we should consider?

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Photo of Jackie Marks
Aug 22 2018
Q&ADisabilityDrug and AlcoholHiringTermination & Resignation  

Q&A: Use MRO to verify whether prescription caused positive drug test

Question: We require all new hires to pass a pre-employment drug test. Do we have to use the same process we use for our random, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident drug testing and send positive test results to a medical review officer (MRO)? Or, can we simply ask potential new hires for a list of medications they have been prescribed?

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Photo of Kara Craig
Aug 17 2018
Q&ADisabilityLeave LawsSafety and Health  

Q&A: No FMLA notice required unless employee asks for time off

Question: I have a production employee who says that standing for eight hours a day is causing him pain. He doesn’t want to go on any type of leave and says he’d rather just suffer through it. We are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). What do I do?

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Photo of Jodi Slavik
Aug 17 2018
Leave Laws  

Phase 1 of Washington State Paid Family Leave rules released

The Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) is in the process of rulemaking for Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML). As we previously reported, WPFML provides leave benefits starting in 2020, with tax assessments on employees and employers beginning January 1, 2019. Phase 1 Complete ESD has divided rulemaking into six phases.…

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Photo of Jodi Slavik
Aug 10 2018

Q&A: Respond quickly and thoughtfully to social media posts

Question: I just found out that an employee posted a hateful comment toward immigrants on her personal Facebook page. We’re afraid of the bad PR impact on our business. Can we fire her for violation of our policy against discrimination?

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Photo of Kandis Sells
Aug 06 2018
Q&ADisabilityHarassment & DiscriminationSafety and Health  

Q&A: “100-percent healed” return-to-work policy violates ADA

Question: To avoid workplace injuries, we require all employees to be 100-percent healed without any medical restrictions before they return to work after an illness or injury. We think this is an important policy to protect employee safety, but recently heard it might be unlawful discrimination. Is it?

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Jul 10 2018
Workers’ Comp  

It’s time for retro refund checks!

Over the past few weeks Vigilant safety professionals delivered $4.5m in retro refund checks to Washington manufacturers in our workers' comp retro group.   Want in on the savings? Learn more about Vigilant's Retro Group today. Vigilant Retro Participant for 19 years, Hampton Affliates receives their refund check. Pictured: Dave Salmon of Hampton Affiliates   More Than Just a…

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Photo of Jackie Marks
Jul 06 2018

Q&A: Rotating shifts may be essential job function

Question: We have approximately 10 employees in one department performing the same job, with 6 working rotating shifts and the other 4 working only on the day shift. One of the employees assigned to the rotating shift brought in a doctor’s note saying he can only work on the day shift due to a medical condition. Do we have to grant his request?

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Photo of Diane Buisman
Jul 05 2018
Q&AHarassment & Discrimination  

Q&A: Informal harassment complaints should be taken seriously

Question: Our harassment policy specifies how employees should report issues to the company. If no one formally reports inappropriate behavior, do we need to do anything about it? Also, can we discipline an employee for not following our reporting procedures?

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Photo of Karen Davis
Jul 03 2018
Wage and Hour  

Penalty for missed rest periods in California includes all compensation

A federal district court in California has ruled that when calculating the additional one hour of pay at the regular rate for missed rest periods under California Labor Code 226.7, an employer must include not only base pay, but also commissions, incentives, and bonuses. A group of 4,481 home mortgage…

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Photo of Kandis Sells
Jul 02 2018
Harassment & DiscriminationHiring  

Q&A: Limit on prior work experience in hiring may be age discrimination

Question: In job postings for our entry-level manager positions, we list the requirements as “3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant work experience” to make sure we don’t waste our time interviewing a bunch of overqualified candidates. We recently had an applicant complain that our cap on prior work experience constitutes unlawful age discrimination, but job postings like ours seem really common. It’s okay for us to set a limit on prior experience when we’re hiring, right?

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