The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Some employees believe that any sexual comment equals sexual harassment. That’s not true, especially when it involves so-called same-sex harassment. While you shouldn’t ignore such conduct for morale and productivity reasons, rest assured that it generally won’t make your organization liable for a big jury award.

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Employees who learn they’re being terminated don’t have much time to file an EEOC complaint—in New York, no more than 300 days. But some employees think they have 300 days from their last day at work. That’s incorrect. Instead, the clock starts ticking when the employee is first informed that she was losing her job.

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Consider what might happen if a supervisor consistently singles out members of a protected class for tongue-lashings. It could be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit. Monitor subordinate complaints, looking for unusual patterns.

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Publication of the new DOL guide to employees’ FMLA rights signals an opportunity for employers to take a fresh look at this sometimes confusing law. It’s a golden opportunity to remind employees how their company leave policies mesh with the FMLA.

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On June 12, the New York Court of Appeals held that the New York State Division of Human Rights does not have jurisdiction over discrimination and harassment complaints filed by public school students under the New York Human Rights Law.

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Buffalo-area cheese manufacturer Sorrento Lactalis faces $241,000 in fines following an OSHA inspection that revealed numerous hazards at its plant.

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Marymount Manhattan College’s refusal to hire a 64-year-old choreography instructor for a tenure-track position has left the New York City liberal arts school tap dancing around age discrimination charges.

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You never know which terminated employee will sue or for what. That’s why you should treat every layoff as a potential lawsuit. Defend yourself by doing all you can to help employees who may lose their jobs find other opportunities within the company.

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In this economy, employees who have been fired often resort to litigation. Jobs are scarce and litigation looks lucrative. Smart employers protect themselves by carefully documenting exactly why they fired employees.

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If you set rules for employees to follow, then make sure everyone in the organization follows them. That includes supervisors. Otherwise, your policies aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

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