The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Under the Davis-Bacon Act, employers are required to pay prevailing wages to employees who work on federal contracts. Sam Schwartz Engineering, a paving contractor on a federal project in Manhattan, found out the hard way that violating the prevailing wage rule is expensive.

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New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has signed an amended version of the city’s Displaced Building Service Workers Protection Act into law, a move that may not mollify critics of the original law.

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Sometimes, it takes a while for management to make changes in schedules and duty assignments after a promotion or transfer. A reasonable delay—even if it results in some loss of pay—isn’t considered an adverse employment action or serious enough to win a discrimination lawsuit.

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Always record the details of your disciplinary decisions at the time you make them. Document as if you are assuming that litigation will result from every disciplinary act.

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Employees who have been sexually harassed or experienced other forms of discrimination over several years may be able to rely on the so-called continual violation doctrine to extend the period of time they have to sue.

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Romantic relationships at work can spark all sorts of problems, from sexual harassment claims to discrimination. But not every negative consequence of a workplace romance is grounds for litigation, even if one or both paramours ends up being fired.

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There have been two recent developments in New York of particular interest to HR professionals.

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A 10-year veteran of the New York Police Department is suing after being fired for refusing to shave his beard.

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Employers are required to take reasonable steps to stop comments that are particularly offensive. That doesn’t automatically mean you have to fire an offensive employee. You can discipline instead and hope that fixes the problem.

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The list includes terms such as “androgynous,” “gender bender,” “gender gifted,” “third sex” and “pangender.”

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