What’s Reasonable for Disability Accommodation?

wheelchair-749985_1280Employers must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws sometimes wonder how far they have to go to accommodate a disabled applicant or employee.

The ADA defines accommodation as any change in the work or work environment which enables a disabled employee to perform the essential functions of a job.  Accommodations can range from improving physical or structural obstacles to easing rigid work schedules.

The federal law (and similar state laws protecting qualified disabled applicants and employees) requires private employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for the qualified disabled applicants and employees. (Similar state laws often apply the same or similar requirements to all, or nearly all, employers.)

The key questions for employers often are: What makes an accommodation reasonable? And what kinds of accommodations are reasonable?

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Before a Mass Layoff Review the WARN Act

car-44144_1280If your business must layoff a large number of employees, you might have to comply with a little-known federal law that requires giving advance notice.

Under the Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act (WARN), employers who are covered must give 60-days’ notice of a plant closing or mass layoff. This notice must be given both to employees and to state and local governments.  Failing to comply can result in civil penalties and employees can sue for as much as 60 days’ pay and benefits, plus attorneys’ fees.

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Employee Gives Two Week Notice – Can We Accept the Resignation Effective Immediately?

1323680_17996870Suppose an employee gives his or her resignation, effective in three weeks, but you decide to accept the resignation effective immediately instead.  Should the employee be paid through the date of intended resignation? You are not required to pay the employee through the intended resignation date unless your business requires a notice of resignation.  If you simply “request” a certain amount of notice, federal law doesn’t require you to pay the employee if you ask him or her to leave before the end of the notice period, although most employers do. But be careful. Continue reading

Guarding Against Unauthorized Overtime

locks-332093_1280An employer is frustrated because employees are working overtime and ignoring the employer’s request not to do so.  Here’s how the employer describes the situation:

Q. “I have a recurring problem regarding employees working overtime.  Some employees will arrive early, stay late or maybe take a short lunch break.  I have told them I do not want them to work more than 40 hours.

“I even issued a memo telling my employees unless overtime was authorized in advance it would not be paid.  Nothing keeps this problem from reoccurring.  The surprising part is, the employees who do this are some of my best employees.  How do I avoid this unwanted overtime?”

A. Top notch employees are among the most frequent abusers of overtime, working overtime without pay.

Their dedication may seem commendable, but never allow employees to perform work without paying them.  Never allow non-exempt employees to perform overtime work without paying them overtime pay.

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Make Safety Part of the Daily Workplace Routine

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees.  But in addition to a legal obligation, employers also can cut costs and save money by investing in a safety program and a safe workplace, and by getting employees to focus on maintaining a safe work environment and performing work safely.

One important and necessary element in creating and maintaining a safe work environment is a well-thought-out safety program which employees respect and follow.  And driving a successful safety program are two significant facts:

  • People — everyone in the workplace from the top CEO to the new, entry-level employees — are the major cause of work-related accidents and injuries.
  • Each person in the workplace — from the CEO or owner to the teenaged part-timer — has a responsibility to set up safe working conditions and make them work.

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An Obnoxious Employee: What to Do?

An obnoxious employee can cause a workplace leader, as well as other staff members, tension, stress an1208847_35671158d hours of wasted time.  What can a leader do in a situation like this?  The problem is described in the following question from a business owner:

Q. My office manager seems to think she owns the business.  In fact, I think she resents the fact that I bought the business.  We used to work together, but now I’m her employer. She does what she wants, and gets really upset when I tell her to do something my way. This has been going on for three years.  I’m ready for a nervous breakdown.  What can I do?  I know if I fire her, she’ll file for unemployment on me, and I don’t want that.

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Interns: Paid or Unpaid?

soap-bubble-63982_1280Interns at “for-profit” privately owned companies generally should be considered as employees and must be paid for all hours worked.

In order for the internship to be unpaid, all six of the following criteria must be met based on the Fair Labor Standards Act:

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