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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Here’s a reminder for supervisors who participate in disciplinary decisions: Tell them to keep their personal feelings about the employee to themselves and resist the urge to bring in stereotypes. No one, for example, should comment on the employee’s nationality, national origin or other protected characteristics.

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The National Labor Relations Act guarantees employees the right to discuss working conditions and organize. The language contained in your employee handbook can put you on the wrong side of the law.

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One of the best ways to prevent age discrimination is also one of the simplest: Make your hiring process age-blind by removing age tipoffs from your application.

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Do you work in an HR department that still hasn’t gotten around to creating an employee handbook? Don’t despair. As long as everyone in HR and management makes sure employees know the company won’t tolerate sexual harassment and encourages immediate reporting of harassment, you can probably escape liability by acting fast on any reports you do receive.

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Following a rash of sexual harassment complaints against state legislators, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed an independent investigator for complaints against members of New York’s legislative and executive branches.

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When an employee is fired, he or she has nothing to lose by suing you. That’s why you should assume that every employee will do just that and prepare accordingly. That includes making sure you have documented every step of the disciplinary process, providing details and dates.

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Here’s a good practice that may limit lots of lawsuits following terminations: If possible, make sure the same person who hired a worker also fires him. That makes it more difficult for an employee to argue he was fired for discriminatory reasons.

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Some employees believe that once their employer agrees that they are disabled, they can demand a specific accommodation. But that’s not true. In fact, it is the employer that gets to pick a reasonable accommodation.

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When people are thrown to­­gether in the workplace, per­­s­­onality conflicts are almost inevitable. But unless there’s seriously abusive behavior or particularly offensive language, an occasionally rude workplace won’t be labeled hostile by a court.

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In January, the EEOC announced it had reached a settlement with Founders Pavilion, a former nursing and rehabilitation center in Corning. The EEOC had sued, alleging that Founders violated the Gene­­tic Information Non­­dis­­crimi­­na­­tion Act. The case marked only the third time the EEOC has brought a lawsuit alleging an employer violated GINA. It was the first time a GINA suit alleged systemic discrimination.

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