employment

severance pay

Money paid to an employee who is laid off, fired or leaves by mutual agreement. Employers are not generally required to offer severance pay, although a few states require some severance pay for employees who lose their job in a plant closing or large layoff. Employers may also be obligated to provide severance pay if they promised to do so in an employment contract or employee handbook.

serious health condition

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees may take leave for their own serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves (1) inpatient care; (2) incapacity for more than three full days with continuing treatment by a health care provider; (3) incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care; (4) incapacity due to, or treatment for, a chronic serious health condition; (5) permanent or long-term incapacity for a condition for which treatment may not be effective, such as a terminal illness; or (6) absence for multiple treatments for either restorative surgery following an injury or accident, or a condition that would require an absence of more than three days if not treated.

scope of employment

The actions or activities an employee might reasonably undertake as part of his or her job. An employer is responsible for actions an employee takes within the scope of employment, which means the employer can be liable to third parties who are injured by the employee's conduct. For example, an employer would be liable for harm to a pedestrian caused by its delivery driver while driving a route; the employer most likely would not be liable for harm the same driver caused if he or she hit a pedestrian while using the delivery van as the getaway car in a bank robbery. (See also: respondeat superior)

retaliation

Punishment of an employee by an employer for engaging in legally protected activity such as making a complaint of harassment or participating in workplace investigations. Retaliation can include any negative job action, such as demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction, or job or shift reassignment.

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