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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

A federal court recently decided to strictly enforce filing deadlines for employment discrimination claims in­­stead of extending them for employees electing to represent themselves. It’s a step toward limiting late claims.

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Although public employers may be aware of their obligation to provide certain types of employees with an opportunity for a hearing before imposing discipline (such as a written reprimand), the line be­­tween a nondisciplinary counseling memorandum and a disciplinary reprimand is not always clear.

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Some disabled employees think employers should drastically modify their jobs so they are do-able, even if that means removing essential functions from job descriptions. Fortunately, there’s no such requirement.

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Marymount Manhattan College has settled an EEOC discrimination lawsuit that alleged the college discriminated against a 64-year-old choreography instructor when it denied her a tenure-track assistant professorship.

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Some managers and supervisors just can’t seem to resist offering “helpful” career advice to subordinates. That’s especially true for workers they may see as less devoted to their work than old-school employees. But a remark concerning absences covered by the FMLA may well be viewed as interference with a protected right.

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A federal trial court has reiterated that the important date for filing deadlines is not when an employee learns he was discriminated against, but when he was fired. Employees have to file their EEOC complaint within 300 days of discharge or they lose the right to sue.

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To prevent lawsuits over layoffs, employers often offer a severance agreement that requires the employee to waive the right to sue. When those agreements involve older workers, they have to meet very specific legal requirements.

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Hiring great employees is difficult—and legally dangerous. Just a few ill-timed words in a want ad or interview can trigger a legal complaint. Here are the key liability hot spots to watch out for.

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Some sexual harassment complaints don’t pan out. If, after investigating, you conclude that no harassment took place, the employee who complained may not be satisfied. How should you handle her? Your best bet is to address her concerns about having to work around the alleged harasser.

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Does your handbook clearly spell out that employees are truly at-will employees? If not, be sure to add language doing so the next time you update your handbook.

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