Category: HR Q&A

Q&A: What’s the difference between an exempt and non-exempt employee?

Exempt and non-exempt are classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That’s the federal law requiring that most employees receive at least minimum wage for each hour worked and overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Usually, employees who are entitled to both minimum wage and overtime are called non-exempt. Those […]

Q&A: What is a disability?

Our definition of disability comes from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who: • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; Has a record of such an impairment; or • Is regarded as having such an impairment. […]

Q&A: What is adverse action?

An adverse action is any action an employer takes that negatively affects an employee. These include discipline, termination, demotion, reduced pay, and reduced hours. In certain circumstances, a transfer or change in job duties could also be an adverse action. Adverse actions are often warranted. Employees, after all, should face negative consequences for poor performance […]

Q&A: What are protected classes?

Protected classes-also sometimes called protected characteristics-come from anti-discrimination law. We talk about them with respect to employment laws, but they also come into play in housing and education. The classes and characteristics protected by federal law include race, color, age (over 40), sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, religion, disability, national origin, ethnic background, genetic […]

Q&A: How quickly do I need to write up an employee for a performance issue?

We recommended addressing the performance issue with the employee as soon as possible. First, feedback is more effective the more quickly it’s delivered. Waiting to provide feedback increases the likelihood that the employee won’t remember what they did wrong and that they may make the same mistake again. Second, waiting to provide feedback risks sending […]

Q&A: Can we ask an applicant why they are leaving their current job?

Yes, you can ask applicants why they are leaving their current job. The employment application is a good place to collect this information. In the section where the applicant lists their previous employment experience, you can ask for the reason they left each job. Trends you notice may be cause for follow-up questions during the […]

Q&A: Does enrolling in Medicare trigger an offer of COBRA?

No, enrolling in Medicare does not cause COBRA to start. Under the federal rules, COBRA must be offered to persons enrolled in the employer’s health plan only if they lose coverage because of certain specific events. Termination of employment is an example of a COBRA qualifying event. Becoming eligible for Medicare, or enrolling in Medicare, […]

Q&A: How do we report non-binary employees on the EEO-1 form?

The current EEO-1 form only provides a male or female option, but there is comment box you can use to report data for non-binary employees by job category and race/ethnicity. The comment box appears on the certification page in the EEO-1 Component 1 Online Filing System. The EEOC asks that you preface this data with […]

Q&A: Employees are spending a lot of time on their phones (scrolling social media, browsing the internet, listening to music or podcasts). Can we prohibit personal phone use during work hours?

Yes, you can limit or prohibit use of personal devices during work hours. Employees can be expected to give their undivided attention to the work you pay them to perform, and if that means phones need to be silenced or put away, you are entitled to make this request. An all-out ban on phone use […]

Q&A: What is natural hairstyle discrimination?

Natural hairstyle discrimination occurs when natural or protective hairstyles (most often worn by Black women) are prohibited or are the basis of different or unfavorable treatment. That sounds a bit technical, but what it usually looks like in practice is dress codes that prohibit corn rows, locs, or afros, and hiring managers rejecting candidates with […]