The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Worried that a supervisor’s isolated, ill-advised comment about a subordinate’s cooperation in a discrimination case will mean an automatic win if the employee sues for retaliation? It’s not a sure thing.

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You simply never know which employee will sue for discrimination. Your best defense is to consistently treat all employees equally. Make all your workers follow all your workplace rules all the time.

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A judge ruled that firing a teacher who brought 20 small packages of heroin into a Manhattan Court­­room was “excessive and shocking to this court’s sense of fairness.”

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Some jobs are physically difficult to perform, especially for someone with a disability. But if a disabled employee’s doctors believe she can perform the essential functions, let her try. Otherwise, you face a potential disability discrimination lawsuit.

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You have probably read that un­­paid interns are suing ­employers for unpaid minimum wages and winning. Now they’re pushing the envelope even further, trying to get federal courts to hold employers liable for sexual harassment and hostile environment claims, too.

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Do you need some employees to speak a foreign language? Don’t worry that requiring fluency could be viewed as discrimination.

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A federal judge has ruled that federal labor law covers strippers at Rick’s Cabaret in midtown Manhattan. As a result, they must be paid the minimum wage and are entitled to overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

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Does fear of being sued keep you from reprimanding slipshod em­­ployees? If you can document their shortcomings, don’t worry.

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Forcing someone to take leave when she doesn’t want to can be considered an adverse employment action and become the basis for a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit.

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A few stray, sexually oriented comments between co-workers aren’t enough to support a full-blown sexually hostile work environment lawsuit. But you can prevent serious legal trouble by stepping in before it gets out of hand.

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