The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 95
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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

Your organization probably has policies prohibiting sexual harassment, and you probably offer training for supervisors and employees alike on how the policy works. But that simply isn’t enough. You should have multiple ways for employees to report sexual harassment. The more ways you provide, the more likely a court will conclude that an employee who failed to report the harassment was acting unreasonably.

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Here’s a cautionary tale that offers an inevitable lesson: When a supervisor’s harassment spills out into the greater workplace, the claims will grow exponentially.

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The ADA requires employers to maintain strict confidentiality on any medical- or disability-related information. That means keeping it in a separate, secure file, away from prying eyes that have no business viewing the information. But confidentiality doesn’t apply just to paper or electronic records. Employers also have to make sure they don’t discuss such information with those who don’t need to know.

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HR professionals often worry needlessly when they hear that a supervisor has made an intemperate or insensitive remark. Fortunately, such comments seldom become the basis of successful lawsuits unless they are truly offensive or outrageous.

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Westchester County’s Hudson Valley Hospital will pay $142,500 to settle an EEOC charge in which a diabetic nurse claimed she suffered disability discrimination. Glorianne Romano asked to have three days in a row off each week following an episode when she went into a diabetic coma in 2007. Her doctor said she needed the time off to regulate her insulin treatments. At first, the hospital agreed, but then withdrew the accommodation, claiming Romano’s schedule was too disruptive.

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In today’s tough economic climate, more and more employees are willing to stay put, applying for promotions instead of looking for jobs in other organizations. That means more competition for promotions—and more opportunities for disgruntled employee to sue when they’re passed over.

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Some employers wrongly believe that when co-workers end what was a consensual sexual relationship, one employee can’t later claim sexual harassment for post-breakup conduct. The dubious assumption: Any subsequent unpleasant contact between the employees was probably based on jealousy or anger over the broken relationship rather than “on account of sex.” That’s not always true.

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New York’s Shared Work program, which allows companies to cut hours rather than lay off workers, saved 10,500 jobs in the first eight months of 2009, according to Gov. David Paterson.

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The Eaton Neck Fire Department agreed to settle an EEOC age discrimination suit that challenged the department’s practice of not allowing the time firefighters serve after their 65th birthdays to count toward length-of-service awards. And those awards are critical to firefighters because they’re used to calculate pension benefits.

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Long Island car dealership Thomas Subaru settled with the EEOC after three women complained about a pervasive hostile work environment. All three had been terminated after complaining of unwanted touching, sexually explicit and degrading comments and pornography in the workplace.

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