The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

A recent federal court decision means you’ll now have to go the extra mile to prove that your worker is an independent contractor, not an employee. Advice: Take steps to document exactly why you believe someone is an independent contractor when you begin using his or her services.

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Managers of the massive federally funded Starrett City housing complex in Brooklyn have settled with the EEOC, bringing a halt to a lawsuit that accused the management company of disability discrimination after it allegedly failed to promote an employee because he suffers from attention deficit disorder.

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In a Brookings Institution report titled “Job Sprawl Revisited: The Changing Geography of Metropolitan Employment,” the New York/Long Island/Northern New Jersey metropolitan area ranked second in the country (just behind Virginia Beach, Va.) with 34.8% of its jobs located within three miles of the city center.

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If you have to terminate employees during a reorganization, you can expect some of them to sue you. If that happens, don’t assume the court will blithely accept a general reorg as the reason why a particular employee lost her job. Be ready with a specific explanation why you terminated each one.

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Think your performance evaluations are tough? Try being an NFL quarterback. Bizjournals ranked all 36 NFL quarterbacks who threw at least 160 passes during the 2008 season to see who delivered the most bang for the buck. Last season’s New York Jets QB Brett Favre placed 34th out the 36 signal callers rated.

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The World Health Organization raised the swine flu alert to its highest level, saying the H1N1 virus has reached global pandemic levels. Your best HR defense is a good offensive plan to handle the logistical and employment law issues …

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If bosses question employees about sexual relationships, you could wind up facing a sexual harassment complaint. And it may not be a simple case of quid pro quo harassment, but rather a hard-to-defend hostile environment claim.

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According to a survey by accounting firm Grant Thornton, 29% of companies have reduced or intend to otherwise modify their contributions to employees’ 401(k) accounts. Of those employers, two-thirds have eliminated matching contributions altogether.

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Courts take retaliation seriously. In fact, they may hesitate to say an employer discriminated against an employee based on race, sex, age, disability or some other protected characteristic, but they’ll clamp down hard if they have the slightest suspicion that the employer punished the employee for merely alleging discrimination.

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