Ask Rita in HR

Ask Rita in HR is actually written by three HR attorneys: Ellen Aldridge, Mike Bishop and Kim Medwar. They are at the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, one of the sponsors of American Nonprofits and Blue Avocado. All three of them advise nonprofits on wrongful termination, wage & hour, discrimination, harassment and other employment issues -- before they are sued -- to keep them out of court.


What Happens When the Office Coffee Comes With Politics?

Dear Rita: With the elections less than a month away, the food bank I direct will be buzzing with passionate political talk. This could create a minefield. Any suggestions? -- Minefield Watcher

Dear Minefield Watcher: Many of the people who work at community nonprofits care deeply about their communities, so it's understandable that they are passionate about elections as well. In fact, a recent study showed that 35% of bosses and 66% of coworkers

Zero Cell Phone Use While Driving Policy

Your employer should enact a "Zero Cell Phone Use While Driving" policy. Such a policy should consider the following elements:

1. Require that employees pull over at the next available safe stop to return a work call.

2. Never initiate a call while the car is moving.

3. Never look up a number or dial information while driving.

4. Ban text messaging while driving.

A Family and Medical Leave Act Checklist

Use this quick Checklist as a way of making sure you've remembered all the key points:

1. The employer is responsible for designating an employee's leave as qualifying under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

2. An employee giving notice of the need for FMLA leave must explain the reasons for the leave to allow the employer to determine that the leave qualifies under the Act.

Can an Employee Come and Go Using Family or Medical Leave?

Dear Rita,
One of our exempt employees -- a children's therapist -- is keeping me up nights by taking unscheduled and intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). We've been able to plan schedules when other employees have requested either a 3-month leave or regularly scheduled intermittent leave, but this employee has rheumatoid arthritis and she never knows until she wakes up if she will be able to come to work on any particular day. We can't count on her to keep appointments with our clients. We know that leave under the FMLA is protected, but there must be something we can do without these continuous disruptions to our services. Help!

-- Sleepless

Dear Sleepless: The administration of intermittent leave can create a headache for the employer. You do have some options -- and some tools -- that can help you

Overtime Pay for Nonprofit Preschool Teacher?

Dear Rita:

I'm a daycare worker for a nonprofit agency. My employer pays me a salary and refuses to pay overtime when I work more than 40 hours a week. The executive director says I'm not entitled to overtime pay because I am a "salaried teacher." I think the real issue is whether I am an exempt employee. I don't supervise other employees and I don't have a college degree or a license. What advice can you give me?

Don't Drive, Chew Gum and Use the Phone at the Same Time

Dear Rita:

As a social worker for a nonprofit, I am required to carry a cell phone with me. Sometimes my supervisor calls me when I am driving. If I don't answer the call, she might think I'm shopping instead of working. However, I am concerned about whether I can be a safe driver while talking on the cellphone. Can I refuse to answer calls while driving without being reprimanded? -- Not Chatty Cathy

Dear Not Chatty Cathy:

Ask Rita Disclaimer

Ask Rita in HR is provided as a forum for our readers to learn about and discuss current developments in human resource law. It is not intended to provide a legal opinion or specific legal advice. Please remember that RitaaEU(tm)s answers are fact-specific and may be affected by state laws. Information regarding state law can typically be found through your stateaEU(tm)s Department of Labor or Chamber of Commerce website. Should issues arise involving a specific legal matter involving you or your nonprofit you are encouraged to contact legal counsel or your D & O insurance carrier which may provide employment advice as a service to its insured organizations.


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