The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Employers that want to limit the use of languages other than English in the workplace take note: Your language restrictions must be reasonable and based on genuine business needs. A simple company preference for English isn’t good enough …

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CA Inc., a software company in Islandia, has filed a $200 million lawsuit against rival Rocket Software of Newton, MA, alleging Rocket stole computer source codes and other trade secrets from CA and used the information to develop almost identical products …

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Five Long Island eateries will pay $966,000 in back wages to busboys, counter personnel, dishwashers and cooks to settle a U.S. Labor Department lawsuit. The wages cover two years in which the employees, mostly Hispanic immigrants, worked up to 60 hours per week without overtime compensation …

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A woman from Queens is suing her boss and their employer for $2.5 million, claiming she began suffering panic attacks after the boss handed her 15 photos of himself stark naked …

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You’ve heard a rumor that one of your employees is looking for or has already accepted another job. Then you call him into a meeting to discuss the matter. You ask whether the rumor is true. That’s when the employee admits the job hunt, but hits you with the reason: He claims the work environment is so hostile that he has no choice but to look. What’s your next step? Do you fire him since he’s looking for other work? Or do you tell him you will investigate his claims and then follow up? …

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Make sure all supervisors who have direct contact with job applicants understand this simple rule: No new employee performs any work until HR approves the hiring and provides a start date. Otherwise the applicant’s time spent “working” may become the basis for a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claim. Then, it will be your word against the applicant’s as to how many hours he or she actually worked …

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Employees who complain of harassment may actually be experiencing a personality conflict. Circumstances that lead someone to see harassment based on race, disability or gender may be nothing more than the result of difficulty getting along with others. If your internal investigation reveals no real discrimination, you may be tempted to move the feuding parties as far away from each other as possible. But that may backfire, especially if the person you transfer is the one who complained of discrimination in the first place …

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When promoting someone from the rank-and-file to first-level management, be sure to provide harassment and discrimination training. Here’s why: If the employee you have selected as a supervisor has a hidden history of discriminatory behavior, you’ll want to make sure that’s all in the past …

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If you have signed up with a “professional employer organization” as a way to outsource your HR headaches but are thinking of ending the relationship, consider this: If you end the contract midyear, you may be liable for additional payments into the state unemployment insurance fund …

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Employees who break company rules can be fired for misconduct and aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. But what if the “misconduct” involves taking a complaint outside the company? If your policy clearly states that complaints should be raised internally first, then you probably won’t have to pay unemployment for employees who are fired because they ignored your rule …

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