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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

The good news: Recent court rulings say you generally don’t have to pay for the time employees spend preparing for their workday, such as waiting in security lines or putting on generic headgear and work boots. The bad news: These kinds of cases continue to find their way into court, and the issue seems far from settled. Keep your lawyer’s phone number handy.

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When it comes to discrimination, your best defense is treating everyone absolutely equally. And that’s tough to do without a central HR tracking system. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Make sure you note any problems (and praise) in each employee’s official file. Then, do regular audits—pulling out data on age, sex, national origin and race—to tabulate the types of problems and any discipline levied …

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Does your organization make important hiring and firing decisions by committee? That’s one way to counter possible bias by one individual. But be prepared to document how the group made the decision …

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There’s a new concern for managers and supervisors in New York state. Those who give out bad references or otherwise bad-mouth a former employee who claimed discrimination can be held personally liable for a conspiracy to retaliate …

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New York state law provides personal liability for workplace discrimination. Employees who aid and abet their employers in discriminatory acts may be sued personally and can lose their assets. But exactly what acts constitute “aiding and abetting”? …

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That’s what a dozen female Novartis employees, recently granted class-action certification in Manhattan federal court, will try to prove in their gender discrimination suit against the Maalox maker …

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A federal jury has awarded $100,000 for pain and suffering to a former director of special education for the Malverne School District, who claimed she was fired for reporting sexual harassment. The director lost her underlying sexual harassment suit, but prevailed on the wrongful-firing claim …

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American Home Mortgage (AHM) was reportedly still hiring employees by the dozens when it crashed in the first week of August. More than 6,000 employees, including 1,300 in the company’s Melville headquarters, were let go with a single day’s notice …

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Ask employers what their toughest challenge is, and they probably will mention discipline. It seems no one likes to play parent in the workplace. On the other hand, there’s no way to avoid it …

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Employers that want to limit the use of languages other than English in the workplace take note: Your language restrictions must be reasonable and based on genuine business needs. A simple company preference for English isn’t good enough …

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