The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 81
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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Employees at Century 21 Department Stores in New York City and Long Island undergo searches every time they leave the store for breaks and at the end of the day. They say the process sometimes takes 15 minutes or longer. The problem: Century 21 makes them clock out first. Employees say that violates the FLSA.

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Employers are generally free to develop their own internal policies, but many laws require employers to notify employees of those policies. Consider the case of Jones v. City of Atlantic City in which an FMLA dispute revealed that Atlantic City hadn’t updated its handbook in 13 years. In fact, the last update happened two months before the FMLA was signed into law.

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Employers everywhere must be extra cautious about discipline that could be construed as retaliation now that the U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously affirmed that the fiancé of a woman who filed an EEOC discrimination complaint was protected from retaliation by their mutual employer.

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Employers that pay new hires more than employees with the same or similar experience should be prepared to prove why they needed to sweeten the pot. Otherwise, they risk an Equal Pay Act lawsuit if it just so happens the hire is of the opposite sex as an incumbent.

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Employers can’t punish employees for complaining about alleged discrimination or harassment. That’s true even if the complaint doesn’t pan out, as long as the employees complained in good faith. But judges don’t want employees to use the threat of a retaliation lawsuit as a way to circumvent fair discipline, either. There’s a way for employers to get judges on their side.

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Sometimes, it’s useful to ask for an employee to comment on allegations that could lead to his discharge. For example, in the following case, the employer was about to fire a worker for omitting prior employment from his job application. Before doing so, the employer directly asked if that had, in fact, happened.

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It almost always makes sense for the same manager who hired a member of a protected class to also terminate that employee if necessary. Courts presume that someone who is prejudiced would not hire someone who belongs to a protected class, only to turn around and fire the same employee due to prejudice.

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Good news if you use arbitration agreements: They apply to former employees who claim retaliation based on protected activity. The potential result: You’re less likely to wind up defending a lawsuit in federal court.

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Before an employee can claim his employer retaliated, he has to show he engaged in a protected activity. But vague claims aren’t enough.

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A Manhattan bakery will fork over $436,000 in back pay, interest and liquidated damages to 27 employees as part of the resolution of a U.S. Department of Labor wage-and-hour lawsuit.

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