As Long Island employment lawyers, one of the questions we encounter is whether an employer can ask an employee for medical records. A request of this nature can implicate issues relating to disability discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Today’s Long Island employment law blog tries to shed some light on the issue.

Requests for Medical Records Under Anti-Discrimination Laws

The EEOC has consistently noted that employers with legitimate concerns relating to an employee’s medical condition which may impact that employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of his job, may make any inquiry into that employee’s medical history. But, that inquiry must be limited and related to the medical condition at issue.

October 2019 was a busy time in the world of employment law. Two major developments include (1) New York State sexual harassment training deadline hits; and (2) the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a Title VII case which will decide whether the federal workplace anti-discrimination laws prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses these developments.

1. Sexual Harassment Training in New York

As of October 9, 2019, all employers in New York, regardless of size, must have completed sexual harassment training for all employees. The training must include an explanation of what sexual harassment is, it must provide examples of sexual harassment, it must discuss available remedies for victims of sexual harassment, and it must discuss how victims can bring complaints of sexual harassment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits, among many other things, employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities. In addition to protecting employees with disabilities, the law also protects employees who associate or have a relationship with another individual who has a disability. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses the law concerning associational discrimination under the ADA and a recent appellate court decision related to such claims.

The explicit language of the ADA prohibits employers from denying jobs or benefits to individuals because of a known disability the individual has or because the individual is known to associate or have a relationship with another person who has a disability. In an associational discrimination disability case, plaintiffs must prove, among other elements, that an adverse employment decision was made “under circumstances” which allows an inference that the disability of a relative or associate caused the employer’s decision. One way to show this is by establishing distraction evidence. A plaintiff can show distraction with evidence that the employer was motivated to take action against the employee out of fear that the employee will not pay attention at work because of the disability of a disabled person.

In Kelleher v. Fred A. Cook, Inc., the plaintiff-employee worked as a laborer. Just months after starting work, the employee’s daughter was born with a neurological disorder. Later the next year, the employee told his supervisor about his daughter’s condition and that because of the condition, on occasion he would need to rush home to care for her. The employee alleged that after this disclosure, his work conditions deteriorated. For example, his work location changed and his coworkers were offered assignments at higher wages than he was assigned.

Through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Congress enacted laws which set minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for employers. The Department of Labor is authorized to issue further guidance about the law, to implement additional rules concerning overtime and minimum wage, and to enforce compliance with the rules and regulations. On September 24, 2019, the United States Department of Labor issued a final rule concerning updates to the overtime rules existing for the past 15 years. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses these changes.

Under the FLSA, employers must pay minimum wage to employees. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. States may set higher rates, though. For instance, in New York, the minimum wage rate varies depending on county, but it is at least $11.10 per hour and can be as high as $15 per hour in New York City (as of 2019).

The FLSA also requires that employers pay overtime to employees. Overtime pay is one and one half times the employee’s regular rate of pay and kicks in when the employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek. But, not at all employees are entitled to overtime pay. The FLSA classifies employees as either exempt or non-exempt. Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay and typically are paid by salary, which remains they receive the same pay no matter how many hours the employee works. Non-exempt employees are typically paid on an hourly basis (or commission) and must be paid overtime hours.

Long Island employment lawyer Peter J. Famighetti secured a sizeable settlement for a firm’s employment litigation client. The settlement amount totals just shy of $295,000 and was based on claims that the public employer violated constitutional due process and civil service laws. As discussed below, the case shows that Famighetti & Weinick PLLC is able to use a wide range of tactics along with its depth of knowledge of employment laws, to obtain quick and substantial results for clients, oftentimes without ever needing to file a lawsuit, as was the case here.

Public employees are employees who work for the state, city, town, or local government. Public employees can also be employed by quasi-government agencies or public benefit corporations, such as the MTA.

In New York, many public employees are entitled to job protections. These employees cannot be fired without cause and must be provided a hearing to determine whether cause exists. Further, the constitution requires that employees who enjoy these protections, must also be provided with a notice of charges and an opportunity to be heard on the charges, before a termination is made effective.  Whether public employees are entitled to job protections can be a fact specific inquiry, dependent on whether the employee is subject to a collective bargaining agreement, the civil service title, the type of civil service appointment, and the employee’s job responsibilities and reporting hierarchy.

We are proud to announce that Peter J. Famighetti and Matthew Weinick, partners at the Long Island employment law firm, Famighetti & Weinick PLLC, have been selected for inclusion by Super Lawyers New York Metro magazine.  This exclusive list is reserved for no more than five percent of the attorneys in New York State.

According to Super Lawyers, the list is “research driven” and peer influenced.  It is a rating service of lawyers who, according to Super Lawyers, have “attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.”  Super Lawyers uses a patented multi-part evaluation process to select lawyers for inclusion on its list.  The process includes:

  • Peer nominations

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the first Monday of September in each year, being the day celebrated and known as Labor’s Holiday, is hereby made a legal public holiday.”

While mostAmericans lament the end of summer, Labor Day always offers one last long summer weekend before returning to school or the usual grind of work at summer’s end. Workers enjoy many national holidays by taking the day off, but even though days such as Memorial Day and July 4th are associated with barbecues, Americans always take time to remember the meaning behind those important days.

What about Labor Day though? Do Americans stop to really think about the meaning behind the holiday? Or is it just the symbolic end to summer fun and sunshine? Today’s Long Island employment law blog explores the history of Labor Day.

As Long Island employment lawyers, a question we frequently hear from callers is what rights do employees have who have been accused of sexual harassment. Although the exact answer depends on the particular circumstances, unfortunately, the most frequent answer is that the accused does not enjoy many rights, if any at all. This is so because the law favors (and in most cases requires) that employers take action against employees who are engaging in unlawful discrimination and harassment.

Moreover, most employees in New York are at-will, so employers can terminate their employment, for any reason, even for being falsely accused of sexual harassment.  But, New York’s federal appellate court has recently issued a decision which enforces that accused employees enjoy some rights, including protections under anti-discrimination laws. Today’s Long Island employment law blog explores the decision in Menaker v. Hofstra University.

In 2011, the United States Department of Education issued a memo to American colleges and universities which required them to “prioritize” investigation of sexual harassment claims. This memo was made in response to prior criticisms of the way schools had been handling harassment complaints. As of 2015, Hofstra was identified as a university which the DOE was investigating for possible mishandling of sexual misconduct claims.

Better late than never. Long Island employment law firm Famighetti & Weinick PLLC is excited to announce the addition of team member, Elisa. Elisa joins the firm as our paralegal. Although we’re approaching Elisa’s one year anniversary, we’ve all been so busy that we weren’t able to write an official welcome blog, until today.

Elisa’s value to the firm and to our clients is self-evident. Before her hire, Elisa studied criminal justice at Excelsior College. Her coursework included instruction about the United States court system, immigration, juvenile justice, criminal law, and ethics, coursework which aligns with the firm’s values of providing legal services to vulnerable segments of the population.

Elisa also received her paralegal studies certificate from Hofstra University. At Hofstra, Elisa learned skills which she puts to work everyday, including research and writing, and civil litigation procedures. Her substantive law classes included contracts, real estate, family law, business organizations, and Wills, Trusts, and Estates.

Employees facing discrimination in the workplace must usually rely on statutes to sue their employers. Governments, however, must operate within the boundaries of the Constitution, including when the government acts as an employer. So, employees who work for a government, such as a state, town, city, or special district, may be able to bring legal claims against their employer when the government violates the employees’ Constitutional rights. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses a recent appellate court decision in New York which raises the bar for employment related claims against municipalities.

Elizabeth Naumovski worked for SUNY Binghamton as an assistant basketball coach. Soon after she started working, rumors circulated that Naumovski was having an “inappropriate relationship” with “J.W.,” a gay female-student athlete.  The rumors continued into the next academic year, so the school responded by imposing restrictions on interactions between students and coaches.

Yet, the rumors allegedly continued to persist into the next year. In early February 2010, the defendant head coach and athletic director spoke by phone and agreed to terminate Naumovski, allegedly because Naumovski demonstrated favoritism to some students.

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