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Hostile Work Environment

What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

What constitutes a “hostile work environment” and what is the organization’s obligation if an employee complains about it? A hostile work environment occurs when unlawful harassment in the workplace either 1) becomes a condition of continued employment (meaning the employee must continue to endure it in order to keep their job), or 2) becomes severe […]

tip pooling

Ninth Circuit Rules on Tip Pooling: No Mandated Sharing With Back-of-House

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently released a 2-1 decision that would essentially outlaw tip pooling arrangements in which tips are required to be shared with employees who do not usually receive them. Such employees would generally include dishwashers, cooks, and janitors. The ruling affects employers in Alaska, Arizona, California, […]

safety program

The Safety Program Mistake You Don’t Want to Make

Some employers try to create a safe workplace by rewarding employees when there are no work-related injuries. This is a mistake. While you certainly want to motivate employees to follow your safety procedures, you do not want to incentivize employees to hide injuries and accidents—or to refrain from filing a claim. Encouraging “no injuries” tells […]

protected class

What To Do If an Applicant Reveals That They’re Part of a Protected Class

How should we respond when an applicant reveals during an interview that they are part of a protected class? If an applicant reveals protected information (i.e. religion, sexual orientation, birthplace), your primary responsibility is to make sure you do not allow this information to become a factor in determining whether or not to hire them. […]

employment verification

What I-9 Form Should We Be Using?

The I-9 form says that it expires on 3/31/2016. Is there a new form available? The current version of the Form I-9 was set to expire on 3/31/2016. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now in the final stage of reviewing their new form, but the form has yet to be officially published […]


When is the Last Day to File Those 2016 Tacky Taxes?

Have you put off filing your taxes this year? If so, we have some good news! The Internal Revenue Service says you have three extra days! Due to the holiday, Emancipation Day on Friday, April the 15th in the nation’s capital, the filing deadline for 2015 tax returns is now Monday, April 18, 2016, rather […]

Employee Loans

Why Employee Loans Are Not Recommended

An employee has requested an advance on his pay, but we haven’t done this before and we’re hesitant to start the practice. What is recommended here? While some organizations provide loans or advances to employees, it is generally not recommended. Advances can be a benefit to employees and a kind gesture on the employer’s behalf, […]

unpaid intern

Unpaid Internships

As summer is just around the corner, a common question for employers  is whether it is acceptable to engage unpaid interns. Assuming the organization in question is a for-profit company, this is an area in which to exercise extreme caution. While most interns must be compensated at least minimum wage plus any applicable overtime in […]

Employee and an Independent Contractor

Can a Worker Be Both an Employee and an Independent Contractor?

We hired a part-time worker who also does occasional contract work for us. Is it okay that we pay this worker as both a W2 employee and as an independent contractor? Typically a worker cannot be both an employee and an independent contractor for the same company. An employer can certainly have some employees and […]