It’s five short answers to five short questions — and this the “is it legal?” edition. And you might be surprised by the mix of legal vs illegal. Here we go…
1. Company wants my past performance evaluations and tax forms
I am an HR professional currently interviewing with various companies. I am in the the interview process with a company, meaning I have had phone screens and this past week I went to the site for interviews with the team. My concern is this request they sent me: “In order for us to assess cultural fit and to achieve the best possible outcome, we evaluate numerous criteria that we believe are predictive of success at (company). One such criterion is the candidate’s history of career advancement and accomplishment over the course of their career as demonstrated by increasing responsibility and meaningful compensation rewards. To aid our hiring team in making this assessment, we ask candidates to provide the following information if they are selected as a finalist for the role: 1. Copies of past performance reviews which help us to see what kind and the level of performance feedback that the candidate is accustomed to. 2. Detailed compensation history including both base and variable/incentive compensation, which is to be disclosed in the employment application and should be supported by the most recent full year’s W-2 statement.”
Either they are brilliant and all recruiters should be asking for copies of performance reviews and W-2’s, or they are reckless , setting the tone of mistrust and legal risk. I don’t know an unemployment attorney so I am shopping around to find the answer. Before I work for a Company, I want to ensure they are being ethical in their HR practices.
No, they’re not brilliant; requiring salary history is actually the mark of a lazy company that doesn’t trust themselves to accurately understand what they should be paying people, and it’s also a huge, unjustifiable invasion of candidates’ privacy. And asking for performance evaluations isn’t outrageous, but it’s not practical to require it, since some companies consider them confidential documents and others don’t do them at all or don’t do them in writing.
And taken together, I’d say that this is a sign of a company that doesn’t know how to hire effectively — how to sufficiently evaluate past accomplishments, assess candidates’ skills and approach, probe beneath the surface in interviews, and get useful information out of references.
But legal risk? There’s no legal risk here. It’s perfectly legal to request or even require all of this. It’s stupid to, but it’s legal.
2. Employer is docking my wages by asking me to give them cash
My employer is attempting to dock my wages by asking for the money cash in hand at the end of the month. This means that my wage slip won’t be officially altered to show that I’ve been docked and I’m unsure as to whether this is legal or not. I would be grateful for any help that you could offer.
No, it’s not legal, because it means that you’ll be paying taxes on money that you weren’t actually paid, and the employer will be reporting payments to you that aren’t correct. Furthermore, if you’re exempt, docking your pay is illegal to begin with. Or, if you’re non-exempt, docking your pay could be legal, but not if it takes your wages below minimum wage for the pay period in question.
3. Not paying a new employee for days off
I work for a small company. The boss is giving us the Thursdays after the two holiday days off for both Christmas and New Year’s as a reward for this year. We are all exempt. However, there is a new employee who has just completed her 90 days, and she is not planning on paying her for those two extra days. Is this legal?
Nope. If she’s exempt and she does any work during that week, she must be paid for the full week. (If she were non-exempt, this wouldn’t be required.)
4. Am I entitled to be paid if I left a job after three days?
I accepted a position well below my pay in past jobs as I needed cash flow. The pressure, from the moment I stepped in during training, was unbearable. The position was in sales, but with no customers. My title was different than the one in the offer letter. This is a small company and my boss never even greeted me when I started. I spent two days doing nothing but clerical work, not selling, not calling customers (I had none assigned) and finally said enough was enough after three days. I quit on the third day after a long discussion with the “boss” when he showed me the “new” commission plan.
The question, finally, is am I entitled to salaried pay for the 2-1/2 days I worked? I’m in Illinois.
No matter what state you’re in, you’re required to be paid for work you do as an employee, even if you only worked three days (hell, even if you only worked one day). And each state has its own laws on how quickly you must receive that pay. In Illinois, you must receive that pay no later than the next scheduled payday (and those scheduled paydays cannot be less frequent than twice a month — or monthly for professional, executive, and administration positions).
5. Can our company lock us inside at night?
Is it against the law for a company to lock all the doors in the building and only let you out when they’re ready? Even 2-3 hours after people’s shifts have ended? It’s ridiculous.
Nope, that’s not legal. OSHA requires that employees must be able to open an exit door from the inside at all times — without keys, tools, or special knowledge. (And they do fine employers who violate this law.) You also have to be paid for any time that you spent waiting to be allowed to leave, even if your official shift has ended.