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New York City Employment Law Blog

4 things to know if you are considering blowing the whistle

From the time we are very young, we are taught to do the right thing. We are told that we shouldn't lie, that we should protect others and that we should speak up if someone is doing something wrong.

Those lessons don't go away when we get older, but they can be far more difficult to abide by as adult when doing these things puts our own well-being in jeopardy. This is why acting as a whistleblower can be so intimidating. 

Sexual harassment, sexism a big problem at tech companies

In recent years, stories regarding harassment, discrimination and intimidation against women in the technology industry have consistently cropped up. In fact, these stories are becoming so common that mistreatment of women has become something of an ugly trend at companies that are otherwise rapidly evolving.

This mistreatment of women seems especially egregious when you stop and consider the fact that tech companies often thrive because of their modern approach to work. Many places tout flexible work hours, fun workspaces, creative compensation packages and energetic leadership. Still, women are targeted for harassment and discrimination.

Cultural characteristics and discrimination: where is the line?

Racial discrimination is something that far too many people face in the workforce today. Some people say or pretend that it doesn't exist, but the fact is that people all across New York are discriminated against because of their race. It just may not always be as obvious as some people expect.

For instance, if you are wearing something that is associated with a particular race and are not hired because of that, it may or may not be considered discrimination. The line between what is and is not discriminatory when it comes to certain characteristics can seem very blurry. But, according to various court rulings, that line is drawn at whether the characteristics are "immutable" or not.

Changes to overtime laws remain in limbo: What does it mean for workers?

The Obama Administration pushed for reform to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rule. Reform is likely needed, as the current set threshold has not been updated in over a decade.

How much of an impact would the proposal have? The proposed changes, as reported by the Huffington Post, would have provided an additional 4.2 million workers with overtime pay protections.

4 possible FMLA violations employees need to watch out for

Employees covered by the Family Medical Leave Act have the right to take leave for certain reasons and without the fear of losing their job. This leave is critical to people who must take time away from work to deal with a medical issue, help a sick loved one or welcome a new child into the family.

In most cases, employers will respect the protections granted by the FMLA, but there are situations in which an employer fails to comply with the law. This can lead to one of the following violations of FMLA:

Lawsuit: unfair wages in the NFL are nothing to cheer about

We often read about the multi-million dollar contracts professional football players sign every year. The story goes that if a player has performed well or shows great potential, franchises will pay huge sums of money to sign that player. In fact, there is a salary cap in place to keep teams from paying players too much.

However, the same cannot be said for the women cheering on those players. In fact, according to a recent lawsuit filed by a group of former NFL cheerleaders, NFL teams allegedly engage in practices that suppress the earning potential for cheerleaders.

Pregnant workers: What you should know about accommodations

If you are pregnant, chances are that you have a lot on your mind. It is, after all, one of the most significant life events you can experience. Pregnancy can also take an incredible toll on a woman physically and mentally. With all this in mind, it should not be surprising that many pregnant women benefit from certain accommodations in the workplace.

Unfortunately, too many people fail to understand that in New York, a pregnant employee is entitled to the same reasonable accommodations as a disabled employee. This lack of understanding leaves moms-to-be suffering or without a job. Rather than suffer in silence or be in fear of losing your job, it can be helpful to know what types of accommodations you may be entitled to receive.

2 types of sexual harassment

When people think about sexual harassment in the workplace, they often imagine a sensationalized scene involving overt sexual commentary and actions. While such a scene does certainly play out in workplaces across New York, many cases of sexual harassment are more subtle and harder to define.

For instance, rather than making crude gestures and comments to a woman in the middle of the break room with witnesses, a supervisor might instead touch the woman during a private meeting. If called on it, he might try to argue that the touch was accidental or that she is misinterpreting the action.

To make it a little easier to identify sexual harassment, you should understand that there are two types of harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

VA whistleblower seeking protection from retaliation

Being disciplined or fired for exercising your rights as an employee is not only upsetting; it is illegal. This is called retaliation and there are strict state and federal laws in place that prohibit such behaviors.

However, employers still try to get away with retaliatory actions by lying or misrepresenting situations. In some cases, they hope to muddy up the waters just enough so that it isn't exactly clear why a person was fired, demoted or transferred.

Understanding what state law has to say about sexual harassment

While we would all like to think that the 21st century workplace has evolved to a point where all employees are treated equally and with the necessary degree of professional respect, this is sadly not the case. Indeed, any simple internet news search will provide countless stories outlining shocking allegations of discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment in all manner of workplaces across the nation.

As discouraging as this reality is, employees can find some solace in the fact that they can hold their employer legally accountable for this type of conduct. By way of illustration, consider sexual harassment, which is prohibited by Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act and, more significant for the purposes of our discussion, the New York State Human Rights Law.