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New York Employment Law Blog

Many workers continue to face age discrimination

Even though people are living and working longer, age discrimination continues to be a problem for workers in New York and across the country. A recent study shows that more than 20% of all workers age 40 and over report that they have experienced age discrimination first hand. Nevertheless, nearly seven in 10 people in this age group say they intend to continue working after reaching full retirement age.

The study was performed by Hiscox, which surveyed 400 Americans who were 40 or older. Researchers found that males were more likely to be affected by age discrimination than females. More than 40% of the men polled claimed they had experienced age discrimination while looking for work. Only 30% of women made the same claim. In addition, 39% of men felt their age was a barrier to advancement. Only 24% of the women surveyed made the same claim.

Multiple racial discrimination complaints filed in 2019

Those who work in New York and throughout the country are supposed to be able to do their jobs free from harassment, but racial discrimination may still happen. According to the TSA, two employees were suspended after a noose was found at a baggage screening area at the Miami International Airport. The TSA said that it did not tolerate racism while a representative for the airport had no comment. Furthermore, the TSA said that the display was taken down as soon as it was discovered.

The display was located in an area that was not available to the public. This was not the only incident involving racial harassment that has been reported in recent months. In March, UPS workers in Ohio said that they found a noose in a distribution center and that they were subject to other forms of racial harassment.

Comments about an accent could be discriminatory

New York workers who are teased about their age or accent could be victims of discrimination. One woman who worked at a California hospital said in a lawsuit that her supervisor constantly made comments about herself and the Filipino unit coordinators who worked there. The department director told her and the other workers of Filipino descent to go back to school to learn how to speak and write better in English.

Another employee said that the director made comments about how she wanted to terminate the woman and other Filipino nurses because they were too old. The director also allegedly told the employee that the nurses were dumb and that they made too much money. That employee would later be terminated, and the reason was his unwillingness to falsely accuse the plaintiff of sleeping at work. According to the lawsuit, the director accused the woman of sleeping on the job among other negative information that was included in performance reviews.

Dads can spend time with their babies, too

You are probably familiar with the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Traditionally, mothers have taken time off to recover from birth and bond with their newborn infant. However, did you know fathers have the right to take paternity leave as well?

Luckily, it is becoming more common to recognize the importance of a father's role in getting a baby settled in the home. As a dad, it is important for you to support your partner and connect with your baby. But did you know you can take parental leave without putting your job at risk?

Studies look at workplace sexism, sexual harassment

Women in New York might be facing more sexism in the workplace overall even though they may be encountering less sexual harassment than they were just a few years earlier. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado interviewed more than 500 women around the country in September 2016 and again in September 2018. In that time, the percentage who said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention in the workplace dropped from 66% to 25%. However, in 2018, 93% of women said they experienced sexism compared to 76% in 2016.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission experienced a 14% rise in sexual harassment complaints from 2017 to 2018, but this does not necessarily mean that more women were sexually harassed. One attorney with the EEOC estimates that only 15% to 20% of sexual harassment cases are reported, so the rise could indicate that more women are comfortable reporting harassment as a result of the #MeToo movement.

How much does workplace misconduct cost?

If you are a female who has experienced harassment in the workplace, you are not alone. And although it typically helps to know you are not the only one going through something, it can be tough to hear continual stories of women who experience sexual harassment by rich, powerful men.

No matter what your job is, there are state and federal laws in place to protect you from discrimination and harassment in your workplace. And if you wonder what it looks like to hold an employer accountable for their maltreatment, you might be interested in the deal Harvey Weinstein reportedly reached with those who accused him of sexual misconduct.

Sex orientation discrimination heading to Supreme Court

LGBTQ workers employed in New York businesses may be interested to learn that more than 200 large businesses and corporations are calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to ban job discrimination based on potential employee's sexual orientation or gender identity. It was reported that among the corporations calling for the ban included Amazon, Walt Disney and Microsoft.

In a case that lead to the Supreme Court, a skydiving instructor was fired due to his sexual orientation. According to the report, the job required the former instructor to strap himself tightly to the clients so that they could safely complete tandem jumps from airplanes. The lawsuit stated that the man told a female client that he was gay in order to put her at ease, but he was ultimately fired after the woman's boyfriend complained to the company.

Age discrimination in employment increases

Various forms of discrimination in employment situations have garnered much attention and rightfully so. Employers have leverage in the vast majority of New York workplace relationships, and an unscrupulous boss can place a worker in an untenable position. Without a legal remedy, the employee would be faced with the unpleasant reality of accepting poor working conditions because complaining would likely result in termination. However, current laws tend to protect certain categories of workers over others.

The landmark legislation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that created Title VII established the basis for employment discrimination cases, but it only applies to claims based on race, sex, religion, color, and national origin. If an employer's reasons for improper treatment of an employee are primarily due to the employee's status as a member of a protected class, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages where appropriate can be collected in addition to monetary losses. Discrimination law experts emphasize age discrimination is not a violation of Title VII but falls under different laws.

Construction company owner jailed for wage and hour violations

Construction companies in New York are required to pay workers on public projects a predetermined hourly rate. This prevailing wage is set by local authorities, and in New York City, it is established by the Office of the City Comptroller. Failing to pay the prevailing wage can lead to criminal sanctions including jail time, which is what happened recently in a case involving the owner of a Long Island contractor.

On June 10, the New York State attorney general and comptroller announced that the owner of a Nassau County-based construction firm would spend 30 days in jail for failing to pay the prevailing wage and falsifying records to conceal his activities. He will serve three years of probation after being released. His wife, who was convicted on misdemeanor counts of the same charges, was given a conditional discharge.

Investment bank accused of LGBT discrimination

New York-based Goldman Sachs was accused of workplace discrimination on June 5 in a lawsuit filed by one of its former vice presidents. The 31-year-old man clams that he was terminated after speaking up about the way LGBT workers were treated at the company. A Goldman Sachs representative denied the allegations, which he described as meritless.

The man joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst in 2010 after graduating from college. He says in his lawsuit that he was promoted to vice president after only six years with the bank due to his outstanding job performance. He claims that things changed in 2018 when he filed a complaint with the bank's employee Relations department over what he described as rampant homophobia and sexual orientation discrimination.

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