The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Supervisors and HR pros need to understand what they can and cannot do with time records. Problems can lead to legal disputes under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Traditionally, plaintiffs learn by mail about their potential membership in a class-action lawsuit. Reaching mobile millennials may require a different tack.

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Three Middletown-based trash hauling businesses have settled with a labor union that says its members were wrongly made to pay for damage to garbage trucks.

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A former Washington political correspondent for New York-based Bloom­­berg News claims the company fired her because of her pregnancy. She filed the charges with the D.C Superior Court, alleging that management’s attitude changed toward her after she announced it.

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A single racially charged comment from someone who didn’t have any say in a subsequent discharge decision isn’t enough to support a reverse discrimination claim.

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Here’s some good news for nonprofit employers using individuals referred from the court system for community service credits. They’re not employees and therefore you aren’t obligated to pay them under the FLSA for the ‘work’ they do.

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Typically, protected activity involves going to the HR office or a supervisor and reporting harassment, discrimination or other perceived illegal treatment. For example, an employee who discovers a racial slur on the bathroom wall may report that to HR and that’s protected activity. But what if the employee, instead of going through channels, responds directly to the co-worker making a comment or caught writing graffiti?

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After a series of rulings dismissing overtime claims that didn’t specify exact alleged overtime worked, word is likely to get out that there’s a new, convenient way to track those hours.

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Asking a simple question such as what type of accent an employee has or what country he grew up in won’t be enough to prove national-origin discrimination. Courts expect employees to talk to one another and without evidence that curiosity about an accent or a co-worker’s background is tied to some sort of discrimination, judges won’t hold employers liable for national-origin discrimination.

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One of the worst things a supervisor can do is to tell an employee being discharged for poor attendance that the reason she’s unreliable is because she has children. At best, such a comment may trigger a claim of caretaker discrimination. At worst—especially if absences are to care for a disabled child—the comments can mean an ADA lawsuit based on association discrimination.

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