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New York Employment Law Blog

Age discrimination in the tech industry

Many people in New York experience ageism, which is discrimination based on their age. The problem is especially concerning in the tech industry, where there may be a perception that younger workers are more suited to the fast-paced environment. Employers who discriminate against someone due to his or her age risk facing legal consequences.

In many industries, advancing age is associated with increased experience and proficiency. In the tech industry, however, many workers find that their opportunities shrink rather than grow over the years. The average worker in the tech industry is about five years younger than those in other industries.

Employers, employees disagree on impact of #MeToo movement

The #MeToo movement has had a huge impact on Hollywood and on other high-profile work environments. However, its impact on other industries in New York and across America is harder to measure.

For example, a Brunswick Group survey of 1,000 U.S. working adults found that 70 percent of employers and workers in leadership roles "strongly" believe that their workplace is free from sexual harassment. However, less than half of non-management employees have a similarly positive view of the situation. In fact, 25 percent of employees say they have witnessed or heard of incidents of harassment within the last 12 months.

What is race or color discrimination in employment?

Discrimination of any sort is not lawful in the workplace. Unfortunately, one form of racism that is still prevalent is racial discrimination. This happens everywhere. Simply reading the news demonstrates how often this takes place with stories like "Barbeque Betty" and "Cornerstore Caroline."

Many different aspects of a person's appearance can lead to their being discriminated against, even though these shouldn't be considerations. When it comes to employment, the employer shouldn't allow any type of discrimination at their business.

Overtime regulation delayed

Many New York workers are still waiting for changes to overtime exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Department of Labor has announced proposed regulatory changes in the past, but an announcement in October 2018 pushed them back once more to March 2019. According to an announcement from the agency, the proposed regulation will include an updated salary level to be classified as an exempt worker. Public input will be sought on the proposed salary level and other issues related to overtime.

The FLSA includes a salary threshold that workers must meet in order for their employers to classify them as exempt from the law's regulations, especially those requiring paid overtime. That amount continues to sit at $23,660, even though the Obama administration attempted to raise it to $47,476. The regulation was blocked in court before the change in administrations, and the Trump administration is expected to recommend an amount ranging from $32,000 to $35,000.

Employment discrimination and mental health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, almost 20 percent of adults in New York and the rest of the country exhibit some type of mental illness in any given year. This means that 43.8 million adults in America suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression or more.

There are many types of events that can cause mental illness in a person. Trauma, divorce, the passing of a loved one and experiences in the military are just some of the stressors that can cause a negative impact. Individuals who are suffering from some form of mental illness and are part of the workforce or are potential hires should speak with the human resources department and inquire about a reasonable accommodation.

Employers frequently short workers on their pay

New York workers being shorted on their paychecks is a very common occurrence. A recent study of low-wage workers throughout the country concluded that 25 percent of the people received pay that did not equal minimum wage. Shortages sometimes reached as high as $1 per hour. On average, the incorrect paychecks were $51 a week less than they should have been. Although the problem is common among low-wage workers, people at all income levels experience pay shortages.

Because of the prevalence of underpayment, a worker who thinks that their paycheck seems low should question it. They should report the problem as soon as possible to a manager or human resources department. The employer should correct the error quickly and provide the missing funds no later than the next payday.

Lawsuit filed against Walmart for pregnancy discrimination

People in New York who work at Walmart might be aware that on Sept. 21, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that it would not make accommodations for a pregnant worker and that this violated the law. The lawsuit is in connection with a Walmart warehouse in Wisconsin where several pregnant women said they were not permitted to participate in a program that allowed lighter duties for some workers.

Federal law prohibits pregnancy discrimination. Walmart has denied the allegations, but the lawsuit seeks both back pay and punitive damages for the workers along with a change to Walmart's practices. Walmart says it is not an appropriate case for a class lawsuit and that the company is intolerant of discrimination.

How can we eradicate sexual harassment from restaurants?

The problem of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is pervasive. In fact, many restaurant workers – including cooks, servers and hosts – have wrongly come to the decision to simply accept that being the victim of a constant barrage of insulting comments and requests for sexual favors is part of the job.

Sexual harassment is not a part of the job. In fact, restaurant workers who are suffering from sexual harassment can take immediate action to put a stop to it by expressing their legal rights, demanding that it stop, or – as a last resort – filing a legal action through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

How to report age discrimination at work

Since 1990, men have filed more than twice as many age discrimination complaints to the EEOC as women. However, since 2010, women in New York and throughout the country have filed more age discrimination complaints on an annual basis. While there are various theories as to why this is the case, there are steps that workers can take if they believe they have been the victims of ageism.

For instance, it may be worthwhile for a person to have a discussion with a department or project manager about why he or she is being ignored. In some cases, leadership within a department or within a given project may see their hidden bias and work harder to include that individual going forward. If that doesn't work, the next step is to file a complaint with the company itself. In the event that HR or anyone else within the company isn't willing to help, an individual can then file a formal charge with the EEOC.

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.

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