The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Employees who complain about alleged discrimination or harassment that violates Title VII or other anti-discrimination laws are protected from retaliation for reporting their allegations. But that doesn’t automatically mean every complaint about workplace problems is protected. If the complaint doesn’t touch on clearly identifiable workplace rights, it’s just a complaint.

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You can’t just shrug off co-worker conflicts. Instead, carefully document the problem just in case an employee sues. You’ll be able to show that personality, not discrimination, is the reason for an employee’s problems.

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Century-old, New York City-based building maintenance giant ABM has reached an agreement with the EEOC to settle sexual harassment charges stemming from its operations in California’s Central Valley. The alleged harassment included unwanted touching, men exposing themselves to female employees and rape.

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Employers are responsible when their employees suffer injuries at work. But what about injuries that happen before the employee clocks in? A federal court has ruled under some circumstances, the employee isn’t eligible for disability benefits.

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Only on Wall Street can you make $800,000 a year and claim that you’re underpaid. But three women who used to earn big bucks at Goldman Sachs are suing because they could have earned even more if they were men.

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The new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act significantly changes the health care landscape for many employers. Some aspects of the law took effect in September 2010. Most significantly, employees’ children are eligible for coverage until age 26. The new coverage requirement affects all plans renewing on or after Sept. 23, 2010.

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Employees who have just lost their jobs usually leave their termination meetings in a foul mood. So, don’t give them any reason during that meeting to send them marching to a lawyer’s office. As you’ll see in the following case, one inflammatory phrase from a supervisor can spark a lawsuit.

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Novartis Pharmaceuticals has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by female sales reps just two months after a federal jury awarded the plaintiffs $250 million in punitive damages. Novartis challenged that verdict, and the court had scheduled a hearing for November. Under the settlement, Novartis will pay $152.5 million in return for dropping its appeal.

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Many employers are discovering they have many—perhaps dozens—of well-qualified applicants for each opening. That may leave some perfectly qualified applicants wondering why they weren’t picked. Don’t fret about selecting the applicant with the best résumé. While you may be sued by another applicant who believes some form of discrimination must have been at work in the selection process, that lawsuit won’t go far.

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Employees have to work at least 1,250 hours in a year to qualify for FMLA leave. They also must have been employed for a total of one year. Thus, while many part-time employees may qualify for FMLA leave, others won’t because they haven’t met those thresholds. But now some hourly employees and their attorneys are trying a new approach.

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