The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

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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Do you have a difficult employee who always has a ready excuse for poor performance? If he’s also demanding religious accommodations, don’t get sucked into litigation over alleged religious discrimination.

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A chain of three Long Island Asian restaurants will pay more than $1 million in back wages and penalties to 255 current and former employees who were underpaid.

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An employee who works in outrageous conditions can sometimes quit, claiming she had no choice, and then sue for her “discharge.” However, most of those suits don’t get very far.

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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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