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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Jose Gomez was working on the demolition crew at a building in Flushing, jackhammering a concrete slab, when the work site collapsed. The resulting fall left Gomez a paraplegic. He filed suit for lost wages. That’s when his employers officially noted Gomez was in the country illegally and was not entitled to such benefits …

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It took nearly a year, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has finally forced Manhattan retailer Albert Palacci to pay for blatantly exploiting three immigrant women …

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An August amendment to the New York Labor Law guarantees time and space for breast-feeding mothers to express milk at work, but stops short of emancipating them from the lowly toilet stall …

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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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