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Some Summer Tips

July 2010

Arlene’s HR Resources

This month I was part of a panel that provided various HR resources to a group of HR professionals at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

This was a fun project for me. As soon as I knew I’d be presenting, I started accumulating a list of local and national newsletters, associations, local attorneys, fellow consultants, and websites that would benefit the group. I know there are 1000’s more, but I thought this list of resources could also be useful to you.

If you’re interested in receiving a list of “Arlene’s Favorite HR Resources”, send me an email at Arlene@ArleneVernon.com and I’ll forward it to you

FMLA Keeps on Changing

There’s a new definition of son and daughter under the FMLA when we’re considering whether an employee is eligible for FMLA to care for a son or daughter with a serious health condition. See 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1)(A) – (C); 29 C.F.R. § 825.200.

  • The FMLA defines a “son or daughter” as a “biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is (A) under 18 years of age; or (B) 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.”
  • Two examples I’ve found in various articles that fall into this new definition would include (1) grandparents caring for a child would be eligible, and (2) same sex partners where only one may be the legal guardian, the other would be considered in loco parentis.
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When Documentation Creates More Problems

This edition of HRxaminer is a mix of semi-random thoughts inspired by client questions, consulting projects and the wealth of information coming to me from a wide variety of resources.

90-Day Warnings: Let’s say you have a poor performing employee. You decide to give the employee 90 days to figure it all out. So you write a warning letter, thoroughly documenting the problems, and let the employee know that you’ll be checking on job performance each month for the next three months, with the last review on October 25, 2010.

  • What’s wrong with this picture? First, it’s great that you documented and were thorough. But while the 90-day follow up review is a common practice, it’s not necessarily always a good practice. What we’ve basically done above is guarantee our employee 90 days of employment, which could violate our “at will employment” rights. We also did not protect ourselves if the employee behaves for 90 days, and then on the 91st day the performance problem (or policy violation or other behavioral issue) reappears.
  • What should we do? Be thorough in your disciplinary documentation, but always leave your follow up schedule and how long the employee is accountable for appropriate behavior open. I recently included the following clause in the disciplinary letter I wrote for a client:

“Should performance continue to decline or any other performance issues or policy violations occur during or following this period, we reserve the right to continue disciplinary action up to and including immediate dismissal.”

Copyright (c) 2010 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

When Documentation Solves Problems

Unemployment Success: I know that sounds oxymoronic, but I recently read in an HR newsletter that in May 2010 a Minneapolis employer challenged, through the court system, an unemployment claim based on employee misconduct and actually won!

While most of us can’t afford the legal costs of taking on unemployment denials in the courts, it gave me hope for future rulings when the court ruled in the employer’s favor.

  • Case highlights: In Goble v. Speedway SuperAmerica, Goble was terminated for making inappropriate comments on the store’s intercom following a negative verbal interaction with a customer. He had been warned (orally and in writing) for similar behavior years before, and an open-ended “if this ever happens again it will be grounds for termination” warning was included in the written documentation.
  • It worked! Based on this employee’s work history and the employer’s right to expect professional behavior from an employee, the court upheld that the termination was legitimately due to employee misconduct and the employee was denied unemployment.

It’s SO important that we (a) document all warnings thoroughly with a clear statement that dismissal for any future misconduct will result in dismissal, and that we (2) contest unemployment when policy violations have occurred.

Here’s a link to more information on the case: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/legalupdates

Copyright (c) 2010 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

About Arlene Vernon

Arlene Vernon, PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.

If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem to solve, or want to enhance your managers’ skills, call Arlene today. Learn
how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly HR mistakes. HRx, Inc., 574 Prairie Center Drive #135/285, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 952-996-0975,

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