Law Blog

New York City Passes Earned Sick Time Act

On June 27, the New York City Council overrode Mayor’s veto and passed the Earned Sick Time Act by a 45-3 vote. This Act joins New York City employers within the minority of states in imposing sick leave obligations. According to New York City Council estimates, this new sick leave law will make over a million employees eligible for some type of sick leave.

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2785 Hits

Supreme Court Redefines Definition of Supervisor

Earlier this week, on Monday, June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court redefined what constitutes a “supervisor” in order for an employer to be vicariously liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (“Title VII”) in Vance v. Ball State University, 570 US 1-30 (2013). Vicarious liability is a legal principle under the common law doctrine of agency, respondeat superior, and often arises in the context of employers and employees. Employers may be vicariously liable for the acts of their employees under the theory that employees are “agents” of their employers when such employees are engaging in acts related to their employment.

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SDNY Rules in Favor of Unpaid Interns

Wage and Hour laws exist to ensure that employees receive a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, and set standards for how employees should be properly paid so that they are neither overworked nor underpaid. Some job positions, such as those involving volunteer work or internships, are typically unpaid and are therefore not generally subject to Wage and Hour laws. Recently, however, courts have been delving into the question of whether employers have unlawfully hired interns to perform work tasks generally assigned to paid employees under the guise of “unpaid internship” positions. While unpaid internships are legal in certain circumstances, when employers hire unpaid interns to elicit free labor that they would usually pay employees for, then such employers are in violation of federal and state Wage and Hour laws, unless an exception applies.

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4809 Hits

Plaintiff’s Claim for Hostile Work Environment Survives Summary Judgment

Many times in the workplace, there is a fine line for conduct that is unfair versus conduct that is unlawful. Creating a hostile work environment is prohibited under a number of Federal discrimination laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and Americans Disabilities Act of 1990. Most states and municipalities also have equivalent laws which may provide for even better protection from a hostile work environment, such as New York which has the New York State and New York City Human Rights Law that govern these types of claims and provide even greater protection for employees.

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NYC Law Aims to Protect the Unemployed from Discrimination

On January 23, 2013, the New York City Council passed an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL") making it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an individual who is unemployed. On February 22, 2013, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed that amendment after strong protests from employers. However, the City Council overrode the Mayor's veto on March 13, 2013 and thus, effective June 11, 2013, an unemployed person becomes a member of a protected class under the NYCHRL.

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Will the Unemployed Be the Next Protected Class in the United States?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for workers in the United States is 9.1 percent and affects 13.9 million people.  These statistics have remained unyielding, but change could now be in the mist.

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2790 Hits

Animosity is Not Actionable

The New York State Court of Appeals has held that, "animosity on the job is not actionable." Forrest v. Jewish Guild of the Blind, 3 N.Y. 2d 295 (2004).  Simply put, while discrimination has no place in society, it is simply not the law that every dispute or wrongful act that arises in the work-place is necessarily of a discriminatory nature.  The reality is most of us are at-will employees.  As such, employers have the luxury to be able to treat (or mistreat) their employees in any manner that pleases them, for any reason, or no reason at all so long as it is not discriminatory or retaliatory in nature.  While courts do not equate personal animosity and fickleness with discrimination proscribed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the New York State Human Rights Law, the evidence is judged by a totality of the circumstances standard. The primary motivation for an employer’s seemingly adverse actions can be indicative of discrimination, as can differences in age, sex, race, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or identity, and disability status. Mere personality conflicts must not be mistaken for unlawful discrimination, lest the antidiscrimination laws "become a general civility code." Id. at 394. General mistreatment such as excessive work, unfavorable schedules, being yelled at, receiving unfair criticism or other seemingly adverse actions, have not been held as materially adverse changes in the terms, conditions or privileges of employment. See e.g. Katz v. Beth Israel Med. Ctr., 2001 WL 11064, *14, 2001 U.S. Dist LEXIS 29, *44 [S.D.N.Y., Jan. 4, 2001]. What may seem like employment discrimination may in reality be a non-discriminatory and legal personal vendetta. Still, context may salvage the circumstances and provide proof of discrimination. The question remains, is it discrimination, or does he just dislike you?

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3146 Hits

To Google or Not to Google, An Employer's Dilemma

The Internet is a revolutionary tool that provides an Employer with a unique new method to evaluate a prospective employee. This freedom to access information through social media and other websites has sparked new lawsuits that are changing the dynamics of Employment Law litigation as it relates to discrimination, retaliation, civil rights and other employee rights.

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2735 Hits

New York Employment Discrimination, the Basics

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, each one of them unjust and ugly. According to the U.S. law, employment discrimination occurs when an company or its representatives adversely single out employees or applicants based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or other issues covered by the law.

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New York Sexual Harassment Laws

In New York, Sexual harassment is one of the most wide-spread forms of work place discrimination.  Federal and NY state law makers have provided a remedy in case you have been subjected to such abuse. The laws are clear that unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment.  When this conduct affects an individual's employment, or unreasonably interferes with an individual's  performance it creates an offensive or hostile work environment.

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2978 Hits

New York Whistleblower Laws

According to the New York Whistleblower Laws, a whistleblower is an employee who "tells" on an employer, because he or she is reasonably sure that the employer committed an illegal act. A whistleblower may uncover financial fraud, health mistreatment, environmental violations, or anything else that is against public policy or law.

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New York Age Discrimination, The Problem

Common knowledge says that older employees have more experience and leadership skills than younger ones. Nevertheless, many employers see older workers as also having more problems with health, taking more time off, and being less active and ambitious.

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