Author Archives: Gabrielle Wirth

Gabrielle Wirth

About Gabrielle Wirth

Employers turn to Gabrielle for guidance on how they can comply with the technical employment laws in California, Montana and nationwide while meeting their business needs. Her successful trial experience in a broad range of employment disputes includes wage and hour, whistleblower, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, and trade secret/noncompetition cases. She also represents employers before a wide variety of state and federal agencies including the EEOC, OFCCP, state human rights agencies, the Labor Commission, the Employment Development Department and OSHA.

Quirky Question #202, Religious Accommodation

Question:

We have a group of employees who are Muslim and want to be allowed to take additional prayer breaks during Ramadan.   We would rather just have them take the whole day off as vacation rather than work a different shift than other employees with long breaks interspersed throughout the day.  Aren’t we safe telling them that they should take the day off? Answer→

Quirky Question #200, Reporting Payments Under Settlement Agreements

Question:

We try and settle threatened lawsuits with lump sum settlements which include wages, tort damages, reimbursement of medical costs and attorneys’ fees. We pay the lump sum to the employees’ attorneys (Trust fund), issue a 1099 to the employee for the amounts paid, not including attorney fees, and a 1099 to the attorney for the attorney fees. We require the ex-employee to indemnify us in the event taxes are not paid. Is that a best practice? Answer→

Quirky Question # 178: Medical Marijuana and the ADA

Question:

We are a large company with operations in several states. Three of the states in which we operate permit medical marijuana use: California, Oregon, and Washington. One of our factory employees, working in an Oregon location, recently requested that we accommodate his medicinal use of marijuana. The employee claims that even if state medical marijuana law and discrimination law does not require accommodation, accommodation is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the marijuana is treatment for a disabling medical condition. Is this true? We have not been accommodating any employee use of medical marijuana. Are we going to be in trouble under the ADA? Answer→

Alcoholism and a Last Chance Warning, Quirky Question # 142

Question:

I work as an HR representative in a medium-sized California business – we employ about 50 people.  Recently, a situation with one of our employees was brought to my attention, and I’ve been asked how to handle it.  We have an administrative assistant with an alcohol problem.  We have reason to believe that her alcoholism was the true reason behind her excessive absenteeism in the middle of last year.  Then, a couple of months ago, she came into work drunk – stumbling around the office and slurring her words.  We immediately sent her home, but we didn’t want to fire her at that point.  Aside from her alcoholism, she fits in very well with our culture and has a great relationship with her co-workers.  We also wanted to be careful to comply with California law regarding “reasonable accommodation” of employees with alcohol problems.  So the next day I met with her and offered her unpaid leave to enter an alcohol rehabilitation program.  She completed the program, and has since returned to work.  However, last week we again started to see signs that her alcoholism may be returning.  She was absent Monday through Wednesday, and when I finally called her on Thursday, I could tell by the way she answered the phone that she was drunk.  On Friday she came in, and I met with her.  She apologized up and down and asked if she could enter rehab a second time.  What should we do? Answer→

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