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New York Employment Law Blog

ACLU is going after Facebook for permitting discriminatory ads

The American Civil Liberties Union is not happy with how Facebook permits its advertisers to structure ads for employment. In a complaint filed against the company, the ACLU claims the ads target prospective employees based on sex. Those in New York following the matter should take an interest in how the complaint is structured.

The complaint is not against the advertisers themselves. Rather, the complaint focuses on how the Facebook allows clients to present the ads. The site specifically asks advertisers whether the solicitation should target men, women or both. This targeting potentially violates federal equal employment laws, according to the complaint.

Visual cues and harassment in the workplace

For some employees, experiencing repeated glances, loaded looks and too much eye contact can make the workplace uncomfortable and even hostile. While these visual cues may seem insignificant to many people, human resource managers need to decide where to draw the line to make sure that people aren't harmed. According to some business researchers, this type of subtle discrimination can go unchecked in many companies in New York and other states throughout the nation.

At many workplaces, employees are trained to recognize overt forms of harassment, but not less obvious ones. Examples of less apparent problems may be coworkers constantly staring at the belly of a pregnant woman or always offering to help an older employee to use the stairs when it's not necessary. A more malicious but subtle cue may be someone staring at a minority employee whenever the issue of race is discussed.

EEOC serious about age discrimination

Age-based discrimination in the workplace was prohibited in New York and around the country when President Johnson signed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act into law in 1967, but research suggests that the landmark legislation has not done as much as lawmakers had hoped to address the problem. When the AARP polled 3,900 full and part-time workers aged 45 or older in June, approximately 60 percent of them told the advocacy group that they had either been the victim of age discrimination or witnessed a colleague being treated unfairly because of their age.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the agency tasked with enforcing federal employment laws like the ADEA, and its chairperson says that cases involving age discrimination are now an enforcement priority. She points out that researchers have discovered age is an unreliable predictor of performance or ability, which she says results in older workers facing discrimination because of stereotypes that have been thoroughly debunked.

Uber settles gender and race discrimination case for $10 million

People in New York who need a ride might appreciate Uber, but hundreds of female and minority employees of the company disliked their lower pay. A class-action lawsuit filed in October 2017 against the ridesharing company has resulted in a $10 million settlement that will be divided among hundreds of employees and former employees.

Three Latina software engineers were the lead plaintiffs. They accused Uber of using a system called stack ranking to deny them pay equal to their white or Asian male colleagues. The system gave lower quality scores to women and other minorities even if their work was the same or better than the preferred gender and races. These ratings influenced pay and promotions. Additionally, when people joined the company, Uber used their previous salaries to determine pay. This practice disadvantages women.

Common workplace issues facing restaurant workers

Working in a restaurant can expose you to many hazards. Employers have a duty to provide you with a safe workplace, but this doesn't mean that there aren't going to be some dangers. When dangers are present, the employer must take reasonable steps to ensure that you are going to remain safe and to warn you of the potential issue.

The area of the restaurant where you work might play a part in what hazards you are exposed to. Others are fairly common throughout the building. Here are some important points that you must know about your right to have a safe work environment in a restaurant:

Filtered ads give rise to employment discrimination claims

The Communications Workers of America has filed suit on behalf of several plaintiffs against Facebook, T-Mobile and a number of other large companies. The suit alleges that the defendant companies have engaged in prohibited employment discrimination by targeting employment ads at young workers. The final ruling of the case could have a major impact on age discrimination in New York.

The vice president of ads for Facebook went on record in a December blog post, arguing that targeted ads are not against the law as long as the campaign overall has been designed to hit all demographics. According to one plaintiff in the lawsuit, however, that is not what she experienced. The 45-year-old plaintiff said she would certainly have noticed ads for employment because she was looking for employment.

Steps employees can take to address gender bias

When women in New York experience gender-based inequality in the workplace, it may come in subtle forms. For example, men may interrupt women but not men. They may tend to make eye contact only with men in a mixed group or ignore women's achievements while lauding those of men. There are several steps people can take to address these actions when they happen at work.

First, it is important for people experiencing these behaviors to not dismiss their reactions out of hand as being oversensitive. However, it is also important to gauge the context of the situation. This may include speaking to colleagues about whether the behavior is typical and the person routinely treats women and men differently.

Older workers say age discrimination still prevalent

Although the job market is currently considered particularly strong, many workers in New York and elsewhere who are over the age of 45 are often difficulty finding work. Many of these workers have said that this may be due to age discrimination.

According to a survey from the AARP, 61 percent of respondents said that they experienced age discrimination in the workplace or have seen age discrimination in the workplace. Approximately 38 percent of the respondents also said that they believed that the practice of age discrimination in the workplace was very common. Even so, only about 3 percent of the participants ever made an official complaint to their employers.

You have a right to miss work for a family member's funeral

Most employers do not like chronically absent or tardy employees. In fact, many companies have specific policies in place that penalize people who repeatedly call into work or show up after starting time. After a set number of offenses, people could end up suspended or even fired from their jobs.

As a professional, you want to be as reliable and responsible as possible. Generally, that means showing up to work unless there is a serious concern, such as a recent illness or death of a loved one, that prevents you from doing so.

Gatekeepers blamed for sexual harassment in media industry

A recent survey conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation identified the entertainment and media industry as a sexual harassment hot spot. The center's telephone survey of 3,213 college-educated employees revealed that 41 percent of women employed in media or entertainment jobs reported experiences of sexual harassment. The CTI co-president said that people's careers in this industry depend largely on the favor of gatekeepers who control access to influence, visibility and higher pay. The results of the CTI survey could be of interest to many workers in New York, which is home to several media companies.

Powerful figures who run media organizations exert a large measure of control about who gets to advance, CTI's co-president said. The vital importance of relationships with upper management appears to have made the industry a leader in sexual harassment in white-collar occupations.

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