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New York Employment Law Blog

Senator from New York supports bill addressing sexual harassment

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is part of the bipartisan group proposing a bill called Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment. It would create a legal limitation on the use of arbitration agreements to cover up allegations of sexual harassment in workplaces. The bill calls for the exclusion of sexual harassment and gender discrimination from the terms of employment agreements that mandate arbitration as the only method for dispute resolution between workers and employers.

Although many workers publicly advance claims against employers in court, private arbitration determines the course of other complaints. This happens because some employees sign agreements as a condition of employment that require them to handle workplace disputes out of court.

Qualifying for FMLA could protect workers from retaliation

Managers and supervisors in New York should avoid criticizing employees for taking time off for medical treatment and recovery. Even if a worker does not officially take a leave under the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act, time off that could have qualified as FMLA leave could still entitle an employee to protection from retaliation or interference.

One court has already allowed an employee's complaint of interference to proceed as a possible violation of the FMLA. Although the female plaintiff had never formally asked for an FMLA leave and the employer had not granted time off under its provisions, she still received time off to treat arthritis in both of her hands.

4 tips for victims of wage theft

When you put in endless hours, along with blood, sweat and tears, you expect to receive the compensation you are due. Furthermore, you expect your employer to deal with you honestly. But, that does not always happen. Not all employers look out for their staff. In fact, some of them actually steal from their employees.

If you have been a victim of wage theft in New York, keep in mind that you have options and rights. The last thing you should do is stand idly by while your boss makes even more money off of your work or anyone else's. Find out what you should do if your employer is stealing from you.

Native Americans report frequent workplace discrimination

Discrimination can be a major concern for many people in the workplace in New York and across the country. One group that has been impacted by employment discrimination as well as oppression and racism in other areas of life is Native Americans. Discrimination has ranged from overt racially discriminatory practices to actions that impact cultural practices. For example, traditional Native American haircuts have been derided as unprofessional or inappropriate for the workplace. In other cases, negative stereotypes about Native Americans have been used to judge workers for injuries on the job or using sick time.

Around one-third of Native Americans say that they have experienced discrimination on the job whether in finding employment or in achieving equal pay and promotions. These statistics were found in a poll of Native Americans by National Public Radio and several university partners. In the poll, 33 percent reported discrimination related to pay or promotions while 31 percent reported discrimination in finding employment. These numbers were larger than those who reported discrimination from police, in health care institutions or when seeking housing.

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Pregnancy can change many aspects of a woman's life, including her job situation. Many women decide to take time off, work different hours or change career paths entirely. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is designed to protect workers who become pregnant. Employees in New York are protected from unlawful discrimination by both state and federal law.

Federal law prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from terminating, demoting, avoiding hiring or otherwise treating pregnant women differently. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations, such as permitting more frequent bathroom breaks to allow the employee to continue working at her regular job.

Tesla worker fired for complaining about n-word files lawsuit

People in New York might recognize Tesla as a company pursuing the advancement of electric cars, but a string of lawsuits reveals workplaces riddled with alleged discrimination. A new class-action lawsuit claims that racial discrimination was pervasive at a West Coast factory.

The former employee behind the legal complaint described a work environment where co-workers and supervisors referred to him by the offensive n-word. He said that his complaint to the human resources department resulted in his job termination. The employer reportedly cited his bad attitude as the reason for his dismissal.

When a single incident creates a hostile workplace

People working in New York may understand how easily a conflict between employees could rise to the level of a hostile workplace. In some cases, this may be true of an employee who has only been involved in a single harassing act as opposed to a pattern of poor behavior. According to the EEOC, harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected attribute and is a condition of employment.

It also says that it is any behavior that creates conditions a reasonable person would deem to be abusive or hostile. The EEOC has clarified by saying that a single event is generally not unlawful behavior unless it is egregious. Furthermore, petty slights and annoyances do not usually rise to the level of unlawful conduct. Despite this guidance, courts have not always ruled uniformly when it comes to what constitutes a hostile workplace.

Spousal jealousy may lead to illegal discrimination

Some New Yorkers are subjected to illegal discrimination based on gender in the workplace. In some cases, the jealousy of a spouse that leads to disparate treatment by the members of one gender at a company may constitute illegal discrimination, according to a recent case.

The case, which was filed in Pennsylvania, involved a female who worked at a forklift dealership. The president of the company was a man whose wife also worked at the company. The wife was reportedly jealous and did not want her husband working with other women. The woman who worked there was not allowed to speak to the president or to go into his office, and she was eventually fired on the basis of the president's wife's jealousy.

How a disability may impact a worker's career

The Center for Talent Innovation conducted a survey that shed some light on the realities that disabled workers face on the job in New York and around the country. One of their key findings was that 30 percent of full-time white collar workers with a college degree have a disability. Of those workers, 62 percent have what are referred to as invisible disabilities that cannot be easily spotted by others.

Of those with invisible disabilities partaking in the study, 44 percent said that they experienced negative bias at work. This means that they may be thought of as lacking skills or not fast enough to keep up. However, the bias may result in workers who don't ask for help and who stall out in their careers. Only 21 percent of those with disabilities mentioned them to their human resources departments.

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.

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