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New York Employment Law Blog

Tips for dealing with workplace harassment

When harassment occurs in New York workplaces, the incidents can create an environment where certain employees no longer feel safe or productive. Even though the vast majority of all workplace harassment incidents are never formally reported, there are things workers and employers can do to start dealing with incidents in an effective manner.

First, employees should determine what resources are available. Some larger companies may have an Equal Employment Opportunity officer onsite or a way to make a complaint. Employees should also write down any incidents of harassment that they experience as they happen. Keeping records could be useful for backing up the allegations. Workers who experience workplace harassment should also report the incident to the employer immediately.

Discrimination against others could be considered evidence

In some cases, it can be difficult to prove that a New York company discriminated against an employee due to the employee's age, race, sex or gender. When it comes to glass ceiling or promotion discrimination cases, how the company treated other employees becomes important when trying to prove that the company actively discriminated against the employee.

Some employers may make blatant statements regarding the reasons an employee may not be promoted. If the reasons are due to discrimination, they provide the employee with direct evidence. More often, however, employers are careful not to make these types of statements, causing the employee to have to use circumstantial evidence to prove that the company has discriminatory promotion practices. The most useful evidence is how other employees were treated by the company.

Lawsuit against Home Depot alleges disability discrimination

Home Depot, which has locations in New York City, is facing disability discrimination charges after firing a woman instead of allowing her a reasonable workplace accommodation. According to the lawsuit filed on Sept. 28 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the woman suffers from fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome and simply needed a short break to attend to her medical needs. Allegedly, her employer refused her that break.

The EEOC initially tried to reach a settlement with Home Depot using its conciliation process. When that was unsuccessful, it filed the lawsuit. The case deals with a store in Peru, Illinois and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In addition to seeking nonmonetary measures to correct Home Depot's future practices, the EEOC has also asked for compensatory damages, punitive damages and back pay.

What are my rights at work as a breastfeeding mother?

Women who have a baby and choose to breastfeed often worry about having to go back to work. Some women might consider not returning to work and instead stay home with their baby. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that they are worried about how they will pump milk while they are at work.

Fortunately, New York law provides specific protections for women who need to pump breast milk while they are at work. This might come as a surprise to some women, however, it is very important for all employees and employers to know.

The gig economy and worker misclassification

Companies like Uber and GrubHub have made life easier for many New York residents, and they have put money in the pocket of many workers as well. However, it has led to a question as to the classification of these workers, and a California federal district court is the scene of a trial on this very matter.

The plaintiff in the action is a former delivery driver for GrubHub. In his lawsuit, he asserts that he should have been classified as an employee rather than as an independent contractor for a variety of reasons. He claims that the company encouraged its drivers to wear clothing with the GrubHub logo, and that the fees that they were required to pay were reduced if they did. He also has alleged that the company reserved more lucrative time slots for preferred drivers.

Blacks and Latinos still face hiring discrimination

Many New York residents believe that those who work hard enough can improve their circumstances. However, studies have consistently shown that blacks and Latinos have to work harder to get the same opportunities to get ahead due to a discrimination in hiring practices. Further, the studies show that discrimination in hiring processes based on race is not declining.

A meta-study, which analyzed multiple studies from a variety of research institutions, found that hiring discrimination against blacks has not changed in 25 years. Hiring discrimination against Latinos has only slightly improved. These results were consistent among 28 different studies that dated back to 1989. It was found that, on average, whites received 36 percent more callbacks than blacks and 24 percent more callbacks than Latinos. As such, the researchers involved in the meta-study concluded that, despite claims that discrimination has gone down, the levels of discrimination actually remained unchanged at least when it came to hiring employees.

Employment law protects DACA Dreamers with work permits

The announcement from the Trump administration ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals does not enable employers to fire their employees with valid work permits under the program. The Center for American Progress estimates that about 700,000 people hold jobs under the program that protected them from deportation. A ruling in 2015 from a federal judge in the Southern District of New York determined that employers could not discriminate against "all lawfully present aliens." The people who gained work permits through DACA, known as Dreamers, meet this definition.

Although the revocation of DACA imposes the threat of fines and jail time on employers who knowingly give jobs to Dreamers once their work permits expire, employment law attorneys caution employers against terminating people's positions while their work permits remain valid. One immigration attorney said that firing someone before the work permit expires could represent unlawful discrimination.

Employers applaud court ruling against new overtime rules

Workers in New York who expected to qualify for overtime pay after the Obama administration raised the salary limit to about $47,000 may no longer have the opportunity. The rule represented the first adjustment to the federal overtime regulations since 2004 and would have enabled over 4 million more people to collect overtime pay.

The new rule had been challenged in court by 21 states and business groups, such as the National Restaurant Association. A federal judge had blocked the rule from coming into effect pending a final decision, which has now come down in favor of employers. An attorney general for one state participating in the lawsuit against the overtime change said that raising the salary limit would have resulted in millions of dollars in payroll costs and job losses.

A basic primer in New York wage laws

You work hard for your money, so you probably want to make sure that you get everything that is due to you when payday comes around. New York law sets specific provisions to help citizens understand a few basics points about their pay.

Here are several points for you to know about working and earning a wage in New York.

After-hours emails and phone calls may be compensable time

Some New Yorkers continue to do work for their employers after they have gotten off of work and returned home. This may include responding to emails, returning calls and other tasks. If these employees are considered to be non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, their off-duty emails, phone calls and texts may be compensable under the labor laws.

If employees work after hours, their employers may be liable for paying them overtime compensation. When employers have constructive or actual knowledge that their non-exempt employees are doing after-hours tasks while they are at home or elsewhere, they might be required to compensate their employees.

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