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Legal Clinic

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What's Considered Confidential?
Question: An employee recently left our firm and we have reason to believe he took client lists with him. His employment agreement says that he is not supposed to take any confidential information from the firm when he leaves. But confidential information is not precisely defined in our agreement. Are names and addresses, such as those found on client lists, generally considered confidential information or not?
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A Primer on Leave Policies
Question: I just started at a new company and they have many more leave policies than the small organization where I used to work. I'm really confused with how all these policies interact: short-term disability, long-term disability, FMLA leave, etc. Can you explain what each of these policies are and how they are typically implemented? Do they run together? Do employees get paid while on each of these leaves?
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Sorting Out Sick-Leave Laws
Question: We are pulling our hair out with all of the different sick-time laws around the country popping up. Some say four days, some say five days, some say 40 hours, yet all have different rates of accrual, different rules on rollover and many have different definitions of covered absences. What should we do about this? We have employees in multiple states and it seems like every other day there's a new law and we have to re-draft our handbook. Is there any way to simplify all of this and still be in compliance?
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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"?
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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?
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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?
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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?
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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?
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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?
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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?
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