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New York City Employment Law Blog

What do I do if my employer hasn't paid me overtime?

Working in excess of 40 hours a week is not something people typically enjoy doing. However, for non-exempt employees across New York, it can be financially rewarding thanks to overtime pay. 

Eligible employees who work overtime are entitled to receive one-and-a-half times their regular pay rate for every hour over 40 worked in a week. However, some employers fail to pay overtime for any number of reasons, from intentional wage theft to inadvertent employee misclassification. Whatever the reason may be, if you are owed overtime, then there are steps you can take to collect the money you deserve.

Reporting workplace discrimination without blowing your cover

Federal, state and local laws protect employees from discrimination based on a number of protected classifications, including race, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital or parental status, age, disability, and sexual orientation. When an employee is subjected to what he or she believes to be discrimination on the job, taking steps to address the problem can be intimidating.

For one thing, employees may fear that if they report discrimination, they will put their job at risk if their employer looks unfavorably upon such reporting. The truth is that retaliation can be a problem, but it is just as illegal as discrimination. Employers can and should be held accountable for retaliating against employees who exercise their legal rights under discrimination laws. 

Was my termination wrongful?

Employees have a number of legal protections in place to ensure they are treated fairly by employers in New York. However, there are times when people do not comply with these laws.

For instance, most employees are protected from wrongful termination. This means that they cannot be fired for illegal reasons, including discrimination. If you were recently fired, there are some questions you will want to answer in order to better understand your legal options.

More protections could be coming for some whistleblowers

Acting as a whistleblower is a role that should not be taken lightly. It puts an employee in a very difficult and stressful position that takes an emotional toll on a person. He or she can feel disloyal, scared and vulnerable to serious repercussions. However, it is also a courageous act that can lead to the exposure of illegal or unethical conduct in a company or agency.

Considering all that is at stake in these situations, it is important to recognize the various measures in place to protect whistleblowers, primarily the Whistleblower Protection Act. And more protections could be coming thanks to the "Follow the Rules Act" currently making its way through Congress.

Where can I look for signs and evidence of wage theft?

A paycheck is one of the most important things in a person's life. It allows us to support ourselves and our families, and sometimes people have to work in jobs they hate just to make enough to do that.

With all this in mind, it seems especially egregious when an employer attempts to withhold money wrongfully from a worker. This act of wage theft is, sadly, not uncommon and it can devastate the lives of workers and employees who earn money they never receive. If you feel like you might be the victim of minimum wage violations, unpaid overtime and other wage violations in New York, it can be crucial that you look in the following places for signs of wage theft.

Keeping good records crucial when taking FMLA

Taking job-protected leave to deal with a serious illness or welcome a new child to the family is essential to workers all across New York. Unfortunately, there are people who qualify for this leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act but are afraid or unsure of what will happen if they take a leave of absence.

Many people are scared of retaliation from an employer, even though it is unlawful. However, you can take steps that protect you and your job if you are taking a leave of absence. One such step is to keep track of every exchange and correspondence related to your leave. This information can then be used as evidence, should your rights to take FMLA be violated.

4 reasons why sexual harassment often goes unreported

Employees in New York have rights and protections from being mistreated on the job, and anyone who is subjected to misconduct like sexual harassment is encouraged to report it. Should that fail to remedy the situation, people have the right to take legal action. Unfortunately, this is all easier said than done. 

In reality, as discussed in this New York Times article, many instances of sexual harassment go unreported for a number of reasons. Below are some of the common reasons why people decide not to report sexual harassment.

6 ways discrimination based on gender identity is illegal in NYC

As state and city governments across the country debate how much - or how little - they want to protect their transgender and gender non-conforming citizens, New Yorkers can rest assured that city law has their back in multiple ways.

The New York City Human Rights Law protects against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. The New York City Commission on Human Rights, which enforces the law, offers extensive guidance on the types of practices that are considered discriminatory under the law in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodation.

Sexual orientation discrimination could head to Supreme Court

Discriminating against an employee (or a potential employee) based on certain characteristics like sex, religion, age or nationality is against state and federal laws. 

However, this issue can get much more complicated than people think, as discrimination is not always easy to identify. Further, discrimination laws vary between states and in some cases, between state and federal government. For instance, in the state of New York, it is illegal to discriminate against workers based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. This is not a protection at the federal level, though that could possibly change.

The importance of knowing the letter (and punctuation) of the law

Unless you work in certain jobs or industries, you may not ever think about the laws that protect workers across New York. You might not be concerned with definitions or the "legalese" of every bill and amendment proposed and in place. However, in every law, every sentence -- and punctuation mark -- has the power to affect interpretation.

For instance, a recent dispute over unpaid wages came down to one single comma. The case took place in another state, but it serves as an important reminder to New Yorkers that when it comes to employee rights, the devil can be in the details.

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