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The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law

OSHA is suing the East Harlem Council for Community Improvement for allegedly retaliating against an employee who complained about unsafe working conditions.

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Site Selection magazine ranks New York 22nd  in the nation when it comes to business friendliness. North Carolina was rated the most business-friendly in the United States, followed by Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and South Carolina.

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One reason employers have handbooks is to protect themselves from surprise allegations of harassment. Without a handbook, they are left with having to show that employees knew how to complain. That’s tough if there’s no documentation that you told them how.

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Here’s a practice you should make standard operating procedure: Have the same manager who makes hiring decisions also make the firing decisions. Doing so will cut the chances of a successful discrimination lawsuit.

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It’s OK to change work rules while an employee is out on FMLA or other medical leave. It’s legal, as long as the rule applies equally to every similarly situated employee.

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Employees who experience retaliation after complaining about bias can sue and win, even if it turns out there was no basis for the original discrimination complaint. The retaliation doesn’t even have to be something serious such as a demotion or firing. It can be something as subtle as lost training opportunities.

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It happens quite often: An employee you fired for rock-solid reasons sues … and sues … and sues some more. Once a former employee gets lawsuit-happy, there’s no telling how far the litigation process will go. But now there’s good news. State and federal courts are tossing out such cases almost as fast as they come in the door. Appeals courts, too.

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Employees seem to think they are entitled to a perfect workplace, free from any conflict or unpleasantness. But that isn’t true. Heck, it’s not even possible! Courts rarely indulge such claims. They’d rather sort out real discrimination and harassment cases, not waste time on hypersensitive employees.

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Pennsylvania construction firm Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. has settled a suit with a Tyrone, N.Y., man after it refused to hire him for a backhoe operator position.

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The owners of 11 New York City dollar stores will pay more than $485,000 to settle complaints they violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by paying workers less than minimum wage, and failing to pay time-and-a-half for overtime hours.

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