The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

A woman doesn’t have to be pregnant to sue for discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Wait, what?

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has announced a settlement with federal contractor MDG Design & Construction, the prime contractor on the Grand Street Guild public housing construction project on New York’s Lower East Side.

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Politics sometimes come up when co-workers talk. As long as what’s said isn’t overtly offensive, those discussions don’t create a hostile work environment—even if some employees are sensitive about the subject matter.

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On June 19, 2014, New York Assembly and Senate passed legislation eliminating a Wage Theft Prevention Act requirement that employers must provide wage notices to all employees by Feb. 1 each year.

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You may think that settling a class-action lawsuit puts an end to the matter, stopping further claims by an employee who was a member of the class. If you know an employee has filed another EEOC complaint or lawsuit, be sure to tell your attorney when the class-action suit is being settled. Otherwise, you may soon be back in court.

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Sometimes, after an employee has been discharged, a supervisor will discover that the employee broke additional rules. But even if what you discover would be enough to have justified discharge on its own, chances are a court won’t let you use the information in your defense. After-acquired evidence isn’t admissible to show you would have fired the employee for reasons other than the one you used.

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If an employer can present a coherent and rational explanation for why economics—not retaliation—drove a RIF decision, chances are a court won’t second-guess it.

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A federal jury has awarded $1.35 million to a police lieutenant in the Long Island town of Freeport after finding that the town’s black mayor turned him down for a promotion to chief of police because he is white. A Hispanic fire department official got the job.

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A black man who runs two Tiffany & Co. stores in Texas is suing the luxury retailer in New York, alleging that the company engages in “systemic, nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination.”

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These days, few attorneys accept cases they know they can’t win. That means more employees are acting as their own lawyers. Don’t make a classic employer mistake: Ignoring a pro se lawsuit in which the employee represents himself. Instead, practice patience and diligence in pushing for the court to dismiss the case.

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