The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

There’s good news for employers that, in good faith, hire employees with criminal records. Gov. David A. Paterson signed a new law that makes it harder to use an employee’s past criminal record as proof that an employer was negligent in hiring that employee …

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Two former employees of the Hempstead Sanitation Department have filed a sexual harassment and race discrimination lawsuit claiming their supervisor, Frank Pepe, offered perks and gifts in exchange for sexual favors …

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Several states, including New York, Massachusetts, California and Illinois, are cracking down on sales tax cheats to help fill state coffers drained by the tanking economy, the AP recently reported. Small businesses tend to be the biggest tax evaders, according to researchers at The Tax Foundation …

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When employees file discrimination charges, they often worry that they will somehow suffer retaliation. In fact, their attorneys frequently remind them that retaliation is illegal and that they should be on the lookout for it. Tacking retaliation charges onto discrimination claims is big business for lawyers. That’s why it’s critical for managers to understand they simply cannot retaliate …

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New York City employers, beware: The sky may be the limit for discrimination damage awards. Federal law limits punitive damage awards in Title VII discrimination lawsuits to no more than $300,000 for large employers. New York state law doesn’t allow them at all. But the New York City Administrative Code discrimination provisions allow juries to award unlimited punitive damages …

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Here’s a way to create management problems and encourage potential lawsuits: Just tell minority managers and supervisors that they can expect their subordinates to harass them and ignore directives because of prejudice in the ranks.  The correct approach: Have a solid anti-harassment policy in place and enforce it …

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When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Lilly Ledbetter case in 2007, employers were thrilled. The court ruled that employees have to move fast after being denied a promotion or experiencing some other allegedly discriminatory act. Otherwise, they lose the right to sue for sex discrimination. But now, that tight deadline is beginning to slip as federal trial courts look for ways to give employees their day in court …

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Some employees—confronted with their own shortcomings—insist on deflecting blame. Perhaps they try to argue that so-and-so—who doesn’t belong to the same protected class—always gets away with the same poor work and conduct that they’re being criticized for. If you truly believe there is no merit to such an employee’s allegations, you probably don’t need to sweat it …

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The Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, upheld the firing of Karen Kridel, a former paralegal with Dibble & Miller, PC, in Rochester, for taking smoking breaks. Kridel customarily took two five-minute breaks from her work each day to smoke …

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Do criminal background checks lead to bias? The EEOC will have to weigh that question when it investigates discrimination charges filed against Madison Square Garden by Charlene Clarke. Clarke, a black woman from the Bronx, accepted a food worker position at The Garden in September 2007. One month later, the arena withdrew its offer after Clarke’s background check revealed a misdemeanor assault charge …

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