New York employers can take steps to limit the possibility of sexual harassment claims arising among their workers. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes mistreatment based on gender illegal, and companies must also observe state and, in New York City, city laws to reduce their exposure to legal liability. Company culture and ongoing training play important roles in preventing inappropriate behavior among staff members.
Generally speaking, an employer cannot base a hiring decision on a worker's gender, race or national origin. New York employers and others also cannot discriminate based on age if a person is 40 or older. While small businesses may be exempt from certain discrimination laws, it is still a good idea to conduct a thorough search to find the best person for the job.
Certain New York employers must abide by the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The act states that workers have the right to take leave to care for themselves or family members who have medical issues. They can also take leave for the birth or adoption of a child. A private employer must generally offer FMLA leave if it employs 50 or more people for 20 or more workweeks in the current or previous year.
Employers generally do not realize this, but job seekers may find it particularly difficult to know what to do when an application has questions that they may be uncomfortable answering. The same may apply when screening questionnaire has illegal questions. After all, they would not be applying if they didn't want the job (or needed the income). So it is not uncommon for eager applicants to unwittingly complying with illegal directives, and could cause an uninformed employer to foster discriminatory practices.
Most employers in New York understand the delicacy of terminating a worker who has taken or requested a leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. A recent case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit highlights the importance of documenting nondiscriminatory reasons before firing someone approved for medical leave. The federal appeals court upheld the summary judgment granted to the employer by the lower court.
With sexual harassment frequently in the news, some employers may wonder if they are taking sufficient measures to protect themselves if an employee alleges that harassment is taking place. There are several dos and don'ts for employers in addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.
New York residents may be aware that the internet search giant Google has been accused of racial and sexual discrimination and nurturing a workplace environment hostile to women and minorities. The technology company won a victory of sorts on Dec. 4 when a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of all of its female employees. However, celebrations at the company's headquarters were likely subdued as the plaintiffs were given 30 days to refile their lawsuit on behalf of only women who claim to have faced pay discrimination.
Employers in New York are usually quite aware of anti-discrimination laws. In response, workplace management often establishes procedures that can prevent bias from taking place during hiring, advancement and retention practices. In some cases, however, an applicant or employee may still perceive an injustice and file a lawsuit or complaint against the employer.
Employers in New York and across the United States are prevented by federal law from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, sex, age, religion and some other factors. However, some employers may engage in perfectly legal behavior that could be perceived as discrimination. Companies can protect themselves against unfair charges of discrimination by taking certain precautions.
If a New York employer selects a candidate for any reason other than his or her qualifications, it could be seen as discrimination. As a general rule, employers are not allowed to discriminate against an applicant based on characteristics such as race, gender or national origin. To avoid discrimination, employers may be well served to create a list of important duties that an employee would need to fill.