The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

A former New York City Department of Parks & Recreation employee has filed a discrimination and retaliation suit against the city after she was fired after complaining about pervasive sexual harassment. Although city investigators largely corroborated her complaints against two supervisors, the woman lost her job.

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The U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored Job Accommodation Network has published new guidance on using leave as an accommodation under the ADA.

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Sometimes a pregnant employee develops problems that amount to a temporary disability. Then she may need accommodations. But if those accommodations don’t allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job, you can place the employee on FMLA leave. If she can’t return to work when her FMLA entitlement is up, you may terminate the employee without violating the FMLA.

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In December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation eliminating employers’ obligation to file an annual statement under the Wage Theft Protection Act. The annual statement provided a snapshot of pay rates and to employees each January.

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Employers are free to set hiring standards and then to pick from the most qualified applicants. Disappointed applicants can’t sue just because they believe they were somehow discriminated against. They have to offer some proof that the employer didn’t hire the best-qualified applicant.

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Online retail giant Amazon and the NLRB have resolved an unfair labor practices claim with an agreement that could lead to unionization of many of the company’s warehouses. The move was prompted by a heavy-handed response to an employee complaint during an employee meeting.

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A study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor finds that somewhere between 3.5% and 6.5% of workers in New York earn less than the minimum wage. The study, performed by Eastern Research Group, showed that more than 300,000 New York workers were being paid illegally low wages.

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As of Dec. 22, 2014, employers in New York must grant leave to employees who also serve as volunteer emergency responders during times when the governor has declared a state of emergency or if a federal emergency has been declared.

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It’s illegal to retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity. But not every complaint qualifies as protected activity. For example, under Title VII, retaliation is only illegal if it relates to a complaint about some form of discrimination covered by that law.

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It’s almost always a bad idea to make an example out of a terminated employee.

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