Employers in New York cannot willfully turn their backs to the state’s minimum wage and overtime laws and expect to get away with it. Courts or the Department of Labor are likely to impose hefty fines or penalties. Today’s employment law blog discusses the penalties employers on Long Island and in the rest of the state can face for willfully violating the law. Continue reading
Unpaid wage and overtime lawsuits are often brought as class actions or collective actions. This way, many employees can band together and use the power of numbers to take on powerful corporations. But, on May 21, 2018, The U.S. Supreme Court practically slammed its doors directly in employees’ faces while providing an easy escape route for employer’s to violate workers’ rights. Continue reading
Retaliation in the workplace is illegal. The law protects employees who speak up when they believe the employer discriminated against them because of a protected characteristic such as race, gender, age, disability, religion, or national origin. Employers cannot try to “get back” at the employee by negatively affecting his or her job such as by demoting, firing, or reducing the employee’s hours or pay. Continue reading
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects, among other rights, the freedom of speech. An unsettled area of employment law in New York has been the question of how much protection does the First Amendment provide to public sector employees like police officers. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses a recent case involving a police officer’s union activity and First Amendment retaliation. Continue reading
For the fourth consecutive year, Long Island employment lawyer Matt Weinick has been asked to return to Hofstra Law School to teach the Foundational Lawyering Skills class. Weinick will be designated as a Special Instructor to teach second year law students, commonly referred to as “2L’s.”
According to Hofstra Law School’s website, the Foundational Lawyering Skills class is a required course for all second year students. It teaches “core lawyering skills” such as litigation and transactional lawyering. Instructors assess the students’ competency in those skills. The class is comprised of a lecture and “break-out classes.” Weinick will be instructing one section of the break-out class on Tuesday afternoons.
The fall 2018 semester will be the fourth year in a row Weinick has participated as an instructor in the Foundational Lawyering Skills class program. Last year Weinick’s students commented that he was “pleasant,” “professional,” gave “thoughtful feedback,” “He was good, seemed effective,” and he was “Great, informative, knew the material, gave effective comments.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has been dominating the news. What, if anything, can the Russia investigation teach us about employment law? Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses the one clear answer — tell the truth.
The presidency may be a politically elected position, but it is nonetheless a job and the campaign process is like one giant and prolonged job interview. Millions of bosses — voters — use information gathered during the campaign to make an informed decision about who to hire — i.e. elect — as president. Once elected, the president’s acts and performance are not without review. Congress may impeach for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and law enforcement may prosecute where there is evidence of a crime.
In the private sector, employers use the interview process to evaluate candidates for a job. Employers may ask many questions to a candidate during the application process, and employers expect honest and truthful answers to their questions. Businesses make decisions about who to hire after carefully reviewing, among other things, the applicant’s answers to the employer’s questions from the interview process. Although many states are at-will employment states, meaning employees can be hired or fired for any lawful reason, many employers nonetheless will investigate suspicions of employee misconduct before terminating the employee.
In 2017, the #MeToo movement trended across social media and in the news. Generated from reports of rampant sexual harassment over the course of many years in Hollywood, the social media hashtag #MeToo became popular as a way for victims to come forward with their stories and for others to show their support for victims and for putting an end to sexual harassment and sexual abuse.
At the heart of the #MeToo movement is the fact that many victims are taken advantage of by harassers who are in a position of power over the victim. The harasser uses that power position to not only assert the abusive conduct, but that power often intimidates the victim into keeping the harassment or abuse a secret, for fear of retribution from the harasser. The #MeToo movement inspired victims to come forward, who had previously remained silent the harassment.
#MeToo is, of course, a social media hashtag. According to CBS News, as of October 24, 2017, #MeToo had been “tweeted” 1.7 million times across 85 countries – and that was early on in the movement.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York State Labor Law (“NYLL”) require employers to pay employees overtime whenever they work over 40 hours in a workweek. The overtime pay rate, under both laws, is 1.5 times the regular rate of pay. So, for example, if an employee’s regular hourly rate is 14 dollars, but that employee works more than 40 hours during a certain week, then the employer must pay the employee 21 dollars an hour for every hour worked over 40. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses whether this overtime requirement applies to service advisors working automobile dealerships in New York.
One point that is different between the FLSA and the NYLL is the list of employees who are exempt from the overtime requirement. Being exempt means that the employee is not entitled to receive overtime pay. For example, employees who work at car dealerships as service advisors are one of the types of employees who are exempt from the federal overtime pay requirement, but not from the New York State law requirement.
Some employment agreements may also prevent an employer from simply turning their back to overtime pay requirements and may nevertheless require them to pay an employee overtime even if they are not required to do so under either the FLSA or NYLL.
Some employment contracts contain arbitration clauses requiring legal disputes to be resolved through arbitration as opposed to a court proceeding. Arbitration differs from a court proceeding in several ways. For example, arbitration is generally less formal, less expensive, and quicker than a typical court proceeding. A significant drawback to arbitration, however, is the difficulty in appealing arbitration decisions. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses whether employment disputes can be arbitrated as a class or whether they must be filed as individual arbitrations.
Arbitration can be handled on an individual or class basis and can involve many different kind of employment disputes. For example, arbitrations can be started for breach of an employment contract, an employment discrimination or retaliation claim, or for improper payment of wages or overtime.
Class arbitration occurs when a group of employees join together on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated employees to bring a legal dispute against the employer. When an individual employee has a small claim, it is typically better for the employee to proceed as a class because adding other cases could result in greater monetary recovery. However, for this reason employers often prefer to avoid class arbitration proceedings.
The National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) grants several rights to a wide array of employees in the private sector regardless of whether or not the employee is part of a union. For example, the NLRA allows covered employees to join as a group in an effort to address and improve the terms and conditions of employment, such as wages and working conditions. Today’s Long Island labor law blog discusses a recent unfair practices case decided by New York’s federal appellate court.
Section 8 of the NLRA provides an extensive list detailing certain actions by employers that are prohibited and constitute an unfair labor practice. For example, an employer cannot restrict, limit, or interfere with a covered employee’s rights under the NLRA.
On March 15, 2018, in Novelis Corp., v. NLRB, New York’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals addressed various unfair labor practices committed by Novelis Corp., an aluminum manufacturer, after employees from the Oswego, New York plant location began to campaign in an effort to form a steelworker’s union.