The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Courts don’t want to micromanage businesses; they are happy to leave specific task assignments to the employer’s discretion. Just be sure to give each employee enough high-level responsibilities so that there isn’t an appearance that a supervisor is a supervisor in name only.

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Employers can require a fitness-to-return-to-work exam when employees have been out on FMLA leave for their own serious health condition. If the worker’s doctor clears the employee—even with minor restrictions—you should allow him to return while you get necessary medical clarification.

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No federal law protects gay employees—including transgender employees—from discrimination or harassment because of their sexual orientation. However, courts and the EEOC have begun applying Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender rights.

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The Fair Labor Standards Act carves out several special circumstances under which the FLSA does not apply. One of these applies to seasonal amusement establishments. As the following case shows, that includes an annual baseball “fanfest,” that relies on volunteers for success.

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Controversial actions by three major federal agencies have businesses worried.

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Employees who take FMLA leave are entitled to the same or an equivalent job when they return. That means that the job must be virtually identical in all aspects, including pay. If you change the pay, the reason is irrelevant—it’s an FMLA violation.

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A Papa John’s pizza franchisee faces jail time for his attempt to evade responsibility for paying overtime to workers at nine stores in the Bronx, N.Y.

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Employers aren’t allowed to pester employees to work during FMLA leave. Requiring the employee to work from home to complete assignments, for example, may amount to interference with the right to take FMLA leave. But not every contact or request is enough to support a lawsuit.

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A manager at a Schenectady, N.Y. Subway franchise allegedly demanded sex from teenage applicants in exchange for jobs at the sandwich chain. Two underage girls reported the manager to the EEOC after he sent them explicit texts suggesting that they would be hired if they had sex with him.

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A Muslim applicant for a driver helper position with UPS in Rochester, N.Y. is one of the lead plaintiffs in a class-action suit against the delivery service. The EEOC is suing on behalf of several men of various religions who have either allegedly been forced to shave to obtain a UPS job or been denied employment because of their religious beliefs.

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