Legal Clinic

Latest Columns:

How Long is a 'Reasonable' Amount of Time?
How long is a reasonable amount of time for a worker to be out on leave during which we have to keep her job open for her? Is indefinite leave a "reasonable accommodation"?
Primer on Employment-Law Processes
Question: Can you give us a primer on the similarities and differences of employment-law process and practice when it comes to claims before the New York State Human Rights Law and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission? Can you also explain how these processes are different when we are dealing with discrimination cases that are in federal court?
Pay-Equity Legislation Update
Question: There has been a lot of activity recently in the realm of pay-equity legislation. Can you please provide a recap of the current state of pay-equity legislation in California and New York, specifically? Can you also give some practical strategies/guidance for keeping companies in compliance?
Are Noncompete Agreements Feasible?
Question: Our business leaders want to require all new employees who begin working with us to sign a noncompete agreement stating that they will not work with the competition for one year after leaving the job. They want to do this because we have been losing a lot of good workers to our competition recently. Is this something that is legally feasible?
Can EAP Use Be Required by an Employer?
Question: Can we require our employees to use an employee-assistance program? We have an employee who made a physical threat against her supervisor to a member of HR. We want to make that employee consult with a therapist at an EAP as a condition for that employee being able to return to work, as we are concerned that she may have emotional problems. Are we allowed to require that this or any other employee consult with an EAP as a condition for maintaining his or her job? Are there any laws that we risk breaking if we do this?
How Much to Disclose?
Question: We just completed an internal investigation into allegations of discrimination and found the evidence did not substantiate the claim. Are we required by law to tell the complaining employee -- who keeps asking about the investigation -- sensitive information uncovered by the investigation? If not, is there a best practice for how much information HR should share about an investigation and its results with the complaining employee?
Rewriting the Employee Handbook
Question: We are in the process of reviewing our company's handbook to make sure it contains the necessary policies required by law -- or at least the policies that are best practice to have. Can you let us know (1) what policies are required by law to have in a handbook and (2) what policies are just best practices for an employer to include in a handbook?
Addressing Peer-to-Peer Bullying
Question: We have heard rumors that one of our employees is feeling bullied by another employee. Does an employee have a cause of action against an employer for workplace bullying? Is there a suggested course of action we should take to prevent bullying in the workplace to avoid litigation?
Alcoholism-Related Terminations
Question: I've read news stories about former employees suing employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act for terminating their employment on account of them suffering from alcoholism. Does the ADA prohibit an employer from terminating an alcoholic employee if that employee has sub-standard performance?
The Liability Issues of Joint Employment
Question: If I employ someone jointly with another employer, can I be liable for the other employer's discriminatory acts towards that employee?
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