Articles Posted in Employment Discrimination & Employee Rights

Published on:

Snoop.Computer.jpgTo snoop or not to snoop, that is the question. Whether or not to review an applicant’s various social networking sites (“SNS”) prior to making a hiring decision or monitor an employee’s SNS when making an employment decision goes beyond conventional wisdom; there are significant potential legal risks, vis-a-vis certain federal, state, and local laws, that employers should be aware of before making the decision to look at SNS. Our Award Winning New York Employment Attorney discusses some considerations below.You should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your specific questions.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS?

As discussed in yesterday’s blog post, employers may believe it necessary to review employees’ SNS in order to protect trade secrets and proprietary information, to comply with certain regulations, or simply as a preventative measure in order to keep the employer from being exposed to legal liabilities. A simple post on Facebook by a hospital employee may violate HIPAA. A tweet on Twitter about a restaurant manager’s alleged criminal history may defame the manager, embarrass the company, and lead to disciplinary issues in the workplace.

Published on:

Facebook.Thumbs.Down.Password.Employer.jpgMore and more Americans use social media than ever before – both on and off the job. In the past several years, some employers have been demanding that employees connect their personal social media accounts (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter) with the employer as a condition of employment. Some employers have even mandated that employees and applicants turnover their private usernames and/or passwords. This has raised some privacy concerns for lawmakers across the country. Our Award Winning New York Employment Attorney discusses some pending legislation here in New York that addresses some of those concerns. Keep your eye on our blog to keep abreast and get general information on developments as they happen.

Why would my employer want to access my social media account?

Employers have argued that accessing employees social media accounts is necessary in order to protect trade secrets and proprietary information, to comply with regulations, or simply as a preventative measure in order to keep the employer from being exposed to legal liabilities.

Published on:

Scales.of.Justice.Men.Women.Dollar.Photo.Club.12.9.15.jpgNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Department of Labor (“DOL”) have taken several steps in recent weeks that will significantly affect employers in 2016. Among other changes to be discussed in upcoming blogs, these changes concern the rights of women in the workplace. Our Award-Winning New York Sexual Harassment Lawyer summarizes some of those changes below.

Updates to Statutes Concerning Women’s Equality

Governor Cuomo signed into law five new statutory provisions affecting women’s rights in the workplace, all of which will become effective on January 19, 2016:

Published on:

Politics.jpgCan your boss fire you from your private sector job because you actively campaigned for a Democrat candidate (e.g., Hillary Clinton) or Republican candidate (e.g., Donald Trump)? This is a timely topic given that it’s election season and politics are often discussed at work. In general, the short answer is no. This blog discusses Section 201-d of New York Labor Law sometimes colloquially referred to as the Lawful Recreational Activities Law.

Our Award Winning New York Employment Attorney has advised and counseled clients on their off duty activities and the right to be free from discrimination.

Section 201-d expressly states that employers cannot discriminate against an employee for “legal recreational activities outside work hours.” The term “recreational activities” is defined as “any lawful, leisure-time activity, for which the employee receives no compensation and which is generally engaged in for recreational purposes, including but not limited to sports, games, hobbies, exercise, reading and the viewing of television, movies and similar material.” Some examples of recreational activities can include smoking cigarettes, hunting or protesting. The law also protects an employee’s right to engage in legal political activities. It is important to note that the answer to the question posed above would be different if the employee was campaigning for a candidate at work because in order for the protections for the law to apply the recreational activities must occur off work premises, outside of work hours and without use of the employer’s property (e.g., copy machines).

Published on:

Pregnancy.Discrimination.Woman.in.Office.Dollar.Photo.Club.12.5.15.jpgPregnancy discrimination is wrong. When an employee notifies her employer that she is pregnant, she should not have to fear termination or another form of reprisal. But, according to April Raines, that is exactly what happened to her.

Ms. Raines alleged that she was a skin care specialist at CFS Health Management Inc. DBA Shefa Wellness Center and was fired two days after she notified the Company’s owner that she was pregnant. Further, it was alleged that the owner of the Company told her that she had deceived the Company by not disclosing her pregnancy during the job interview. This conduct violates that Pregnancy Discrimination Act. After a lawsuit was filed the Company agreed to a settlement with a monetary payment of $37,000, and other conditions including training and posting notices. While the matter was settled, the Company denied any wrongdoing. This is just one example of difficulties that women face in the workplace.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Published on:

LGBT.Flag.Waved.Dollar.Photo.Club.12.4.15.jpgWhile our community generally discourages and combats discrimination, such as ageism and racism, few groups find themselves so openly and frequently subjected to discrimination as those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT). From being denied services to being illegally denied marriage licenses, our society finds itself still battling the same injustices, but with new targets.

With federal statutes not directly addressing this type of discrimination, many employers may assume that it is permissible or even acceptable to discriminate against the LGBT. While the EEOC takes the position that the federal prohibition against gender discrimination includes transgender, and some federal courts have agreed, the federal law as applied in New York is not yet clear.

In New York, however, state and local human rights laws strongly and directly condemn and prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on sexual orientation and transgender discrimination. All LGBT workers in New York State who have suffered on-the-job discrimination have recourse, and the recourse for transgender persons is even clearer in NYC. Our Award-Winning New York Employment Attorney has counseled and advised clients with regard to sexual orientation discrimination claims in the workplace and is ready to speak with you about your employment discrimination concerns.

Published on:

Discrimination.Handwritten.Dollar.Photo.Club.11.23.15.jpgOur Award-Winning New York Employment Law Attorney is often asked to speak on the topic of disability discrimination and reasonable accommodation in the workplace. In general, if an employee is disabled under the applicable law and puts the employer on notice of such disability and the need for a reasonable accommodation to perform his or her own duties, the employer may be required to engage in the interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be made. A typical accommodation case maybe where a secretary develops carpal tunnel syndrome, he or she may ask her employer for a gel pad to lessen any discomfort associated with typing or request a change in duties provided an undue burden is not placed on the employer. This blog post discusses a recent case and it is not intended to provide specific legal advice – each case is unique. You should consult an experienced employment lawyer to learn your rights and options you may have as an employee or your obligations, best practices and defenses you may have as an employer.

EEOC v. Chemical Transportation Inc.

In conclusion to a near two-year litigation, the EEOC’s lawsuit again Chemical Transportation, Inc. (CTI), a trucking company, highlights the need for businesses to insure that all supervising and decision-making staff are trained on their obligations with respect to reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities under all federal, state, and local discrimination laws.

Published on:

Sexual.Harassment.Hand.on.Shoulder.Dollar.Photo.Club.9.10.15.jpgOur Award-Winning New York Employment Lawyer discusses a recent multi-million dollar jury verdict in a sexual harassment case. Sexual Harassment remains a serious problem in workplaces across the country. In Rennenger v. ToyQuest et al., female call center employees regularly were targets of offensive terms and comments including being called “sluts” and “whores” and carriers of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition to verbal harassment, the female employees were subjected to physical harassment – some were made to sit on a male co-worker’s lap and another had her head grabbed by her supervisor and forced into his crotch. One of the female employees, Danielle Renneager, was fired after she complained of sexual harassment and she brought a lawsuit. It is unlawful to retaliate against an employee who makes a good faith belief of sexual harassment. The jury awarded almost $12 million dollars including $10 million dollars in punitive damages. Cases involving other female employees are pending as well. There are two types of sexual harassment cases – hostile work environment and quid pro quo. This case falls into the first type and both are discussed briefly below.

HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The first type of sexual harassment is called a “hostile work environment.” A hostile work environment may exist if an employee experiences discriminatory conduct or harassment in the workplace so severe or pervasive that he or she feels intimidated, ridiculed or insulted. As a result, the employee’s job performance is adversely affected. In order to legally constitute a hostile work environment, the environment must be considered “hostile” by you and by a reasonable person’s standard. The courts will evaluate the totality of the circumstances. In general, below are some examples of prohibited conduct:

Published on:

Hand.Discriminating.Gold.Fish.Dollar.Stock.Photo.4.16.15jpg.jpgOur New York Employment Law Attorney has been asked to discuss a recently filed employment discrimination class action lawsuit filed in federal court against Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (“TCS”). TCS provides consulting, technology and outsourcing services. It is one of the largest IT employers in the world and it has approximately 20 offices throughout the country. In short, Steven Heldt, a former IT worker at TSC, is alleging that TCS engages in an intentional pattern and practice of discriminating against individuals who are not South Asian in hiring, placement and termination determinations.

The lawsuit includes the following statistic of the TCS workforce: 95% of TCS’s United States workforce is of out South Asian descent. The complaint further states that this disportionate percentage in the TCS workforce is not consistent with the United States overall average (i.e., 2%) for South Asians employed in the IT field. In addition, the plaintiff alleges that TCS prefers hiring South Asians over “American hires.” Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that one HR manager “expressed his dislike for hiring American workers.” Further, the lawsuit claims that TCS hires many immigrant workers from South Asia through immigration petitions (e.g., H-1B visa). The plaintiff is seeking class action status on behalf of all individuals who are not of South Asian race who applied for positions at TCS and were not hired, were demoted or terminated. The plaintiff claims that TCS’ practices violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

TCS has denied the allegations and stated that it is an equal opportunity employer. It has stated that it will vigorously defend the lawsuit.

Published on:

Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgWith New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman by her side, Chief Administrative Officer of Major League Soccer (MLS) JoAnn Neale announced in March 2014 that the sports organization was stepping up its efforts to prevent harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation both on and off the field. The initiative, titled “Don’t Cross the Line,” will become effective at the start of the 2014 soccer season.

If you are the victim of harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, our Award-Winning New York Employment Lawyers can advise you of your rights. Additionally, if you are an employer seeking guidance about your obligations to keep your company free of harassment and discrimination, our law firm can provide counsel on such matters, including code of conduct policies. To make an appointment for a confidential consultation, call our office at (800) 893-9645. Meet our Lead Employment Lawyer by clicking here.

According to Neale, the MLS is taking several steps to strengthen its existing anti-discrimination policies as they relate to sexual orientation. First, the League is revising company manuals and expanding training programs for players and other employees about discrimination and harassment. In addition, the MLS is making it easier for employees to make a harassment or discrimination complaint by creating a single point of contact who will handle such issues. Moreover, the MLS will revise its Player Code of Conduct to make it clear that anyone who files a discrimination complaint or assists in such an investigation will not face retaliation.