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 83
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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

New York state judges have gone 12 years without a pay raise, making some of them a little hot under the robes. A survey conducted by two state judicial groups indicates that an overwhelming number of judges favor an association that could negotiate wages and benefits—in effect, a union.

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Although we usually think of the ADA in terms of helping disabled people perform their jobs with or without accommodations, the law also has important workplace safety implications. Under the ADA, you must make sure your emergency evacuation plans take into account the needs of disabled employees. Some issues to consider:

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You can and should use the FMLA rules to encourage employees to return from FMLA leave as soon as possible. One of the most effective ways is to run their unpaid FMLA leave time concurrently with any paid leave they may have coming. That way, they can’t use up that paid time first and get another 12 unpaid weeks.

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Employers will have to keep more records and regularly explain wage and pay details to their employees under a new law signed by Gov. David Paterson in December.

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Some employers are slow learners—they still don’t understand the danger of retaliation. Judges are fairly tolerant of all kinds of inappropriate employment practices, but they really, really don’t like it when an employer punishes someone who has just complained about those practices.

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It’s not always easy to accommodate disabled employees. You want to follow the law, but you also want to make sure that the employee isn’t a danger to herself or others if she has a serious condition like epilepsy. But it is possible to handle these tricky situations right—as the employer did in this case.

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Employees who complain about discrimination are protected from retaliation. Anything that would cause a reasonable employee to rethink the original complaint is fair game for a retaliation lawsuit, including such seemingly minor consequences like losing a few hours of overtime pay.

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Here’s a bit of good news for employers that would prefer to keep New York discrimination claims in state court. A federal court has refused to let a former employee use Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act to move state claims to federal court.

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If you don’t already have a system in place to track all employee complaints, develop one now. You simply never know when someone will sue. When a lawsuit claims that an employee worked in a hostile environment, a record of those complaints—or the lack thereof—will come in handy.

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Employees who believe they work in a hostile environment can quit and claim they were “constructively discharged,” arguing that no reasonable person would stay and suffer intolerable conditions. But when an employer responds to a resignation with entreaties to stay, chances are the employee will have a hard time arguing things were so terrible she had to quit.

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