The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

The NLRB has ordered a New York City tour bus company to reinstate a tour guide who was fired because of what he wrote on Face­­book. The board ruled that his postings were protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

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Be careful before firing someone for violating email policies that prohibit forwarding company documents to a personal email account. If the forwarded documents support an EEOC or other discrimination complaint, and if the forwarding isn’t “disruptive,” firing the employee could trigger a retaliation claim.

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Here’s some good news. A court has quickly dismissed a pay disparity lawsuit that a university mathematics professor filed accusing her university of paying male faculty more than their female colleagues.

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Here’s a simple way to keep many disappointed applicants from filing needless lawsuits: Make sure someone removes any application or résumé information that indicates race, national origin or other characteristics belonging to a protected class before the information is passed on to whoever makes the initial screening decision.

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When a co-worker makes himself a nuisance (or worse), a robust anti-harassment policy, a clear reporting method and swift and sure action will cut liability in almost all cases. But what if the policy isn’t en­­forced or a supervisor learns about the harassment but ignores the problem and doesn’t take action? Then all bets are off.

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InStar Services Group has agreed to pay $65,000 in back wages to more than 100 employees who did not receive the pay they were promised for cleaning up after Superstorm Sandy.

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Good news: You won’t be held personally liable—and neither will your company—for what you say in re­­sponse to an EEOC complaint. State­­ments made in an EEOC investigation are privileged.

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The New York Court of Appeal—the state’s highest court—has ruled that Starbucks baristas in New York must share tips with their shift supervisors. Assistant managers, however, are out of luck. The court said they don’t get a cut of the nickels, dimes and quarters left in the jars on the Starbucks counters.

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Some employees just aren’t very likable, and that can lead to workplace awkwardness. Co-workers may ignore their prickly colleagues and only deal with them when necessary. That’s OK as long as the co-workers don’t end up going beyond mild ostracism.

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In a major victory for employers, the Supreme Court in June ruled that, in Title VII cases, only someone with the power to take “tangible employment action” can be considered a supervisor. The Court’s decision in Vance v. Ball State will make it harder for employees to sue for supervisor bias, a claim that carries strict employer liability.

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