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At-will at a glance in the Empire State

“At-will” employment means you can quit your job when and why you want and, also, your employer can fire you when and why they want. At-will employment is the law across most of the U.S.

Still, the at-will rule has so many exceptions that job separation can be legally tricky. Compared to some other states, however, New York stays relatively true to the core idea of at-will employment.

Obvious or subtle, workplace retaliation is illegal

Being treated unfairly on the job can be irksome to any New York worker. In some cases, the treatment may be annoying but not actually illegal. However, if the mistreatment results after a worker has filed a complaint or participated in an investigation into wrongdoing in the workplace, he or she could be facing retaliation.

Retaliation typically involves unfair treatment, such as a demotion or even termination, after a worker participates in a protected activity. As mentioned, filing complaints about wrongdoing in the workplace and participating in any investigations regarding unfair treatment are protected activities, and other actions such as utilizing time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act or requesting accommodations for a disability are also protected activities. Of course, retaliation does not have to come in the form of a major action like being fired.

Actress leaves "The Rookie" after facing discrimination

Even if people seem to have the perfect career, a lot can go on behind the scenes that others do not know about. Of course, the reason that some unseemly actions go unknown is that complaints are swept under the rug and not passed on to the proper parties. For instance, some people may think that acting on a popular television show is a dream job, but discrimination and harassment could be taking place.

New York readers may be interested in the account of actress Afton Williamson, who portrayed a character on the first season of ABC's "The Rookie." According to reports, Williamson made a post on social media indicating that she would not return to the show for its second season due to facing discrimination and harassment on set. She said that she filed complaints with the showrunner, but those complaints were not passed on the human resources department.

Settlement reached in pregnancy discrimination case

Having a child is often filled with much anticipation. Women can go through a lot during the months of pregnancy leading up to the births of their children, and unfortunately, the entirety of the experience is not always pleasant. In fact, some women could face pregnancy discrimination on the job that puts more than just a damper on their expectancy.

New York readers may be interested in this type of discrimination case that recently came to a settlement. According to reports, multiple pregnant workers with an airline cargo handling company were forced to take unpaid leave during their pregnancies. Additionally, the workers were often not accommodated when they needed light duty due to lifting restrictions associated with their pregnancies. However, individuals who needed light duty due to issues not relating to pregnancy were often accommodated.

New York law now prohibits discrimination based on natural hair

It is an unfortunate reality that many people are treated unfairly without just cause. In fact, numerous individuals in protected classes can face discrimination in the workplace simply because of their skin color, disabilities, religion and other characteristics. Fortunately, steps are being taken to prevent mistreatment in New York.

According to reports, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a new law that makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals for their natural hair or hairstyle. This type of discrimination commonly affected people of color who may have been treated differently due to the texture of their hair or even the style in which they wore it. The law specifically includes protective hairstyles, such as twists, dreadlocks, braids and other styles typically associated with a particular race.

Senior care facility owes workers after wage violations

Many employees feel as if their employers are the ones with the power and control at their places of employment. While that notion may be true in some sense, workers also have power, especially when it comes to standing up to violations they face in the workplace. If New York workers believe that they have faced wage violations, they have options for standing up to the wrongdoing.

It was recently reported that 48 workers in another state are owed compensation after an investigation into practices at a senior care facility. According to reports, an injured worker had filed a complaint claiming that the facility did not have workers' compensation insurance. This complaint resulted in the ensuing investigation that discovered multiple wage-related violations as well.

Women move forward with employment litigation after firings

When employees are treated unfairly, it can become disheartening to go into work. In some cases, the unfair treatment may not necessarily be illegal, but in other instances, workers could have their rights violated by their employers. If violations do occur, employment litigation could take place.

New York residents may be interested in a lawsuit recently filed by two female employees in another state. According to reports, the women were terminated from their positions at an immersive arts and entertainment company after they complained about unfair pay and other discriminatory actions in the workplace. They hope that their case will be approved for class-action status to include over 50 female workers at the company who have also been negatively affected by discrimination.

Man files claim for religious discrimination

Religious beliefs play different roles in the lives of New York residents and those elsewhere. In some cases, individuals may need specific accommodations at their places of work due to the beliefs that they hold. Unfortunately, openly expressing these beliefs and requesting accommodations could sometimes result in religious discrimination.

A former police officer in another state is claiming that he faced such discrimination, and he has filed a lawsuit against the city and others as a result. The man indicated that he was hired as an officer in 2013 and requested Sundays off for his day of worship. The religious accommodation was provided, and the man later became a pastor at his church in 2014. In 2015, the man left his position with the police department for personal reasons but was asked to return in 2017. He agreed to return to a part-time position and to have the same religious accommodation.

Six former employees are suing Jones Day for pregnancy discrimination claims

According to a New York Times article, six former female employees are suing Jones Day for gender and pregnancy discrimination. As one of the world’s largest and high-profile law firms, many are closely watching the developments in this case against Jones Day.

In the lawsuit, the female plaintiffs allege that the firm hires about the same number of men and women associate attorneys. However, the female lawyers claim that company management delegates the best work to men, unequally rewards men with higher compensation and offers more promotional opportunities to men.

Have you recently updated your employee handbook?

As an HR professional or executive at a New York company, you may have put a lot of work into creating your employee handbook. It likely communicates important policies, discloses legal information, encourages a fair and professional workplace and more.

However, whether due to a misunderstanding, a lack of time or more, companies may fail to regularly update these handbooks. This can lead to the spread of outdated or old information. Additionally, a handbook with vague or inconsistent policies can leave you vulnerable to legal action. Read on for several reasons to update your handbook on an annual basis or more:

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