The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

New York employers found to have discriminated against employees can be assessed fines up to $50,000 under new terms of the New York Human Rights Law. If a court finds employment discrimination to have been willful, the fines—payable to the state—may be as high as $100,000.

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You need a zero-tolerance policy banning all comments about race or ethnicity. It doesn’t matter whether the race being singled out is a majority or a minority race. The act of harassing someone because of his race is illegal either way. It also doesn’t add one bit to workplace harmony or the bottom line.

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Evelyn Coke, the Queens home health care aide who took her fight against U.S. Department of Labor overtime regulations all the way to the Supreme Court, has died at age 74.

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The EEOC has finally issued 93 pages of proposed regulations explaining how employers should implement the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), which took effect on Jan. 1. The ADAAA expands the definition of “disability,” allowing many employees to be protected under the ADA for the first time.

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Employees who suffer from chronic conditions may have to see their doctors regularly. Under the FMLA, if those employees give you 30 days’ notice, they’re allowed to pick the day for their appointment. You can’t simply argue that they don’t need to take off that particular day because there is no emergency or urgency.

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Employers sometimes have the mistaken belief that employees with serious health conditions who have used up all their FMLA leave can be terminated if they can’t return to work. That’s simply wrong. In fact, those employees may be entitled to reasonable accommodations—including additional time off—under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.

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New York City employers may soon have a definitive answer to a vexing question under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the New York Court of Appeals to tell the federal court whether the NYCHRL permits employers to raise the affirmative defense available under U.S. Supreme Court sexual harassment rulings.

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If you use mandatory arbitration agreements, take the extra time to make sure courts will enforce them. In New York, that means showing that the applicant or employee knew that getting and keeping her job required agreeing to arbitration of all employment disputes.

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Employees who engage in some form of protected activity—such as filing an EEOC complaint, participating in a discrimination case or complaining about possible discrimination to the company—are protected from retaliation for doing so. But often employees who complain about one thing end up suing on entirely different grounds …

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Courts traditionally have been lenient with plaintiffs who represent themselves, giving them every benefit of the doubt. As this case shows, that seems to be changing.

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