The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

A judge ruled that firing a teacher who brought 20 small packages of heroin into a Manhattan Court­­room was “excessive and shocking to this court’s sense of fairness.”

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Some jobs are physically difficult to perform, especially for someone with a disability. But if a disabled employee’s doctors believe she can perform the essential functions, let her try. Otherwise, you face a potential disability discrimination lawsuit.

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You have probably read that un­­paid interns are suing ­employers for unpaid minimum wages and winning. Now they’re pushing the envelope even further, trying to get federal courts to hold employers liable for sexual harassment and hostile environment claims, too.

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Do you need some employees to speak a foreign language? Don’t worry that requiring fluency could be viewed as discrimination.

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A federal judge has ruled that federal labor law covers strippers at Rick’s Cabaret in midtown Manhattan. As a result, they must be paid the minimum wage and are entitled to overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

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Does fear of being sued keep you from reprimanding slipshod em­­ployees? If you can document their shortcomings, don’t worry.

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Forcing someone to take leave when she doesn’t want to can be considered an adverse employment action and become the basis for a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit.

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A few stray, sexually oriented comments between co-workers aren’t enough to support a full-blown sexually hostile work environment lawsuit. But you can prevent serious legal trouble by stepping in before it gets out of hand.

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Ordinarily, if an employer can show it decided to terminate an employee before she announced her pregnancy, a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit won’t succeed. But employers that try to make a better case for termination by whipping up a new performance appraisal that emphasizes poor performance can wind up handing the employee an easy lawsuit victory.

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Employees at the Manhattan flagship store of Victoria’s Secret received raises of between $1 and $2 per hour recently, and say it’s all because of a petition started on the advocacy website www.change.org.

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