The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Some managers are just clueless about how to treat employees. You certainly don’t want to encourage boorish behavior. At the same time, you shouldn’t worry that a relatively harmless verbal blunder will land you on the losing end of a discrimination or harassment lawsuit. Just make sure your core HR processes are solid.

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Eight years after being flagged for similar violations, Long Island’s Chateau Briand catering company has been burned again for illegal pay practices.

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In a case that shows trying to get a case into the federal system may backfire and wind up costing more for employers, a federal trial court has sent a lawsuit back to be heard by a state court.

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Employers continue to prevail in most New York discrimination cases, but litigation is taking longer. Those are among the key findings of Bond, Schoeneck & King’s recently published 2012 Study of Employment Discrimination Litigation in the Northern and Western Districts of New York.

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Is a male employee complaining about behavior you would clearly see as sexual harassment if the employee were a woman? If so, do something about it.

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Lady Gaga’s former personal assistant wants the flamboyant performer and cultural phenomenon to cough up another $400,000 in back overtime pay. Claiming she was on call 24/7, the assistant’s lawsuit says she should have been paid overtime for 128 hours per week in addition to her $75,000 a year salary.

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The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has issued new guidance about how and when federal contractors may use a job applicant’s criminal background in the hiring process.

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Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting the unemployed from discrimination. The EEOC has investigated bias against the unemployed and warns employers they could face disparate-impact discrimination lawsuits if screening out the unemployed hurts women and minorities more than other groups.

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When the owner of Windswept Envi­ron­mental Group died in Nov­ember 2008, he left behind more than a business. The Bay Shore company’s 401(k) retirement plan was orphaned, too, since the owner was the plan’s only fiduciary. Now the DOL has asked a court to appoint a fiduciary for the plan.

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The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has sensibly ruled that the existence of rival professional groups can’t be used to prove that workplace discrimination exists. Had the decision gone the other way, public employers likely would have seen a proliferation of special-interest employee associations.

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