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Car.Accident.Scene.Dollar.Photo.Club.2.18.15.jpgOur New York Employment Lawyer has been asked to comment on the recent tragic car accident involving Bob Simon, award-winning 60 Minutes correspondent from an employment law perspective. As way of background, last week, Mr. Simon was a passenger in a livery Lincoln Town Car when he was killed in a car accident in New York City. It has been reported that Mr. Simon’s driver, Mr. Abdul Fedahi, allegedly sideswiped another car and crashed ino a metal median. Mr. Simon and Mr. Fedahi reportedly were crushed in the accident and had to be removed from the car. Mr. Simon was taken to Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital and pronounced dead and Mr. Fedahi survived and is recovering from two broken legs and a broken arm. Mr. Simon’s death was a tragedy and may have avoidable according to certain details about Mr. Fedahi’s employment reported by the media. In general, in New York, a claim for negligent hiring or negligent retention may occur when an employer places an employee in a position to cause foreseable harm, harm which the injured party would probably would have been spared had the employer taken reasonable care in supervising or retaining the employee. One of the key elements to show is that the employer knew or should have known of the employee’s propensity for conduct that caused the injury. Here, in Mr. Simon’s case, a number of items that have been reported could have raised concerns to Mr. Fedahi’s employer — below is a list of the some reported details —

1. Bob Simon was traveling in a Livery Lincoln Town Car driven by Abdul Fedahi.

2. Mr. Fedahi reportedly told the police that he blacked out after being hit.

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above-the-bar-logo-no12Our New York Severance Pay Lawyers have counseled former employees of The New York Times (“NYT”) who were laid off, had their positions eliminated or were otherwise disciplined. Over the past couple of months, it has been reported that the NYT has taken steps to reduce its headcount by offering certain employees voluntary buyouts and laid off others. Some of the affected employees may have been provided with a severance package. While there is never a good time to lose your job, it is imperative for selected employees to understand their rights and options if their jobs are at risk. Contact our New York and Westchester County Employment Lawyers to confidentially learn your rights and determine what you can do to maximize the economic and non-economic terms of a severance package. We can help you during the difficult process of losing your job. Our attorneys have helped many employees who have been presented with a severance agreement. Affected employees should not sign an separation agreement without consulting an experienced employment lawyer – the agreement is written for your former employer’s benefit, not necessarily yours. In fact, many times the agreement will specifically state that you are advised to consult an attorney.

Below are just a couple of reasons why the terms of a proposed severance agreement are not always written in an employee’s favor:

NUMBER ONE: In general, almost all severance pay agreements include a provision stating that you (and your assignees) cannot and will not sue your former employer. While there are some limited exceptions for claims that cannot be released under law, this is a significant issue for employers. In essence, this is why companies provide with you severance Generally, employers are not required to provide severance absent an agreement, policy, plan or few other situations.

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above-the-bar-logo-no12Our New York Overtime Pay Lawyers have been asked to comment on the recent settlement between United State Department of Labor and LinkedIn Corp. After an investigation, the Company has agreed to pay almost $3,500,000.00 in unpaid wages to approximately 360 employees in New York, California, Illinois and Nebraska. The Company further agreed to pay over $2,500,000.00 in liquidated damages. In total, the Company will pay almost $6 million dollars as a result of the investigation of its wage practices and settlement. This case underscores the importance of employers maintining proper employment records and paying its work force consistent with the Fair Labor Standards Act, New York Labor Law and other applicable statutes. Errors in wage practices can be costly for employers (who could be subject to a lawsuit, investigation or audit) and employees (who may not receive their proper pay in a timely manner. If you are an employee or employer who has questions about proper wage practices, contact our NY Employment Lawyers to confidentially discuss your concerns.

One of the areas of inquiry in the investigation was unpaid wages for employees relating to “off the clock” work. Technology, in part, has enabled employees to work from home and longer hours. Off the clock claims can include work from home, on smart phones and remote access email. Susana Blano, District Director for the US Department of Labor’s San Francisco division stated that “[o]ff the clock’ hours are all too common for the American worker. This practice harms workers, denies them the wages they have rightfully earned and takes away time with families…We urge all employers, large and small, to review their pay practices to ensure employees know their basic workplace rights and that the commitment to compliance works through all levels of the organization.” According to the investigation, LinkedIn did not record, account and pay for all hours worked in a workweek. Further, it has been reported that LinkedIn did not classify some of its sales force as non-exempt (overtime eligible) and did not keep track of their hours worked. As part of the settlement, LinkedIn agreed to an enhanced compliance agreement that includes providing compliance training and distributing its policy prohibiting off-the-clock work to all nonexempt employees and their managers, meeting with managers of current affected employees to remind them that overtime work must be recorded and paid for, and reminding employees of the company’s prohibiting retaliation against any employee who raises concerns about workplace issues. In addition, other types of wage violations in general include:

  • Non-Payment of wages (including minimum wage payments)
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above-the-bar-logo-no12Our Award-Winning Employment Attorneys are often asked this question by owners and executives of small and large businesses, and the answer is yes – misclassifying your workforce can have severe consequences. Many laws are involved in a misclassification analysis. For example, under the recently changed New York State Commercial Goods Transportation Industry Fair Play Act, employers can face civil and criminal penalties which can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, employers will most likely have to pay back taxes on Unemployment Insurance. In some cases, employers who misclassify workers can be sent to jail. Therefore, in order to protect yourself and your business against such penalties, you need to schedule an appointment with one of our Award-Winning Worker-Classification Attorneys for a privileged and confidential consultation by calling (800) 893-9645. Information about our Lead Employment Lawyer can be found here.

Why is the Misclassification of Workers Such a Big Issue?

According to a study conducted by the Cornell University School of Industrial Labor Relations, during the period between 2002 through 2005, approximately 40,000 employers misclassified 700,000 workers in New York. Certain industries, such as trucking and construction, have a high rate of misclassifying workers. When a company misclassifies a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee, the company does not pay into the Unemployment Insurance or Workers’ Compensation Fund for that worker. As a result, New York State was losing millions of dollars in revenue due to this issue. Moreover, when an employer misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor, the worker can lose out on such benefits as healthcare insurance, minimum wage protections, as well as the right to join a union. Because the misclassification of workers can adversely affect a state’s revenues and an individual’s benefits, labor leaders and lawmakers have made this an important issue. To determine if your business is in compliance with the laws pertaining to the classification of workers, contact our office to arrange for a confidential consultation.

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above-the-bar-logo-no12Yes, provided that your claim proves to be meets the statute’s requirements and results in a financial recovery for the government. Under the current federal and state laws, if you bring about a successful whistleblower lawsuit, often referred to as a “Qui Tam” suit, that results in a financial recovery for the government, you are entitled to receive compensation. Under the federal False Claims Act, you may receive up to 30 percent of the money recovered as the result of your whistleblower lawsuit. The New York False Claims Act states that whistleblowers are entitled to receive up to 25 percent of the funds recovered. In 2013 alone, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that whistleblowers in federal suits received a total of $345 in compensation. Since 2009, whistleblowers received a total of $1.98 billion in federal cases that exposed fraud against the government.

However, you need to consider the following when filing a whistleblower lawsuit: first, the information you reveal cannot be public knowledge. Second, you must be the first person file such a suit. Third, you cannot have been involved in the fraudulent scheme yourself. Once you file a whistleblower lawsuit, investigators may determine that you helped a company to commit fraud against the government. Moreover, your employer should not attempt to retaliate against you for filing such a suit. Therefore, you need to call our Award-Winning Whistleblower Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to schedule for a confidential consultation. Because such lawsuits are often complex and often take years to be settled, you need to have experienced lawyers by your side to protect your legal rights. Our Leading Employment Lawyer can be found here.

What Is the False Claims Act?

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above-the-bar-logo-no12Our Award-Winning New York Employment Lawyers have been asked to comment on new requirements facing most employers in New York City. This morning, New York City Mayor de Blasio signed a bill requiring all employers with atleast 5 employees to provide paid sick leave. It is critical for covered employers to get up to date on this law as soon as possible because it takes effect in less than 2 weeks on April 1, 2014. This blog post is designed to give a brief general overview – if you have any specific questions about your workplace and options, call our office at (800) 893-9645 for a confidential consultation with one of our leading NY Employment Attorneys. Meet our Lead Employment Lawyer by clicking here. This can be a complicated area because of the interplay involving Paid Sick Leave Act, Workers Compensation Law, Federal and State Disability Laws and Discrimination Laws.

Under the new law, it is important to note that Mayor de Blasio expanded on the proposed bill that was pending when Mayor Bloomberg was in office. That bill would have applied to employers with 15 or more employees; however, the bill signed by Mayor de Blasio today applies to much greater number of employees since the threshold is now only 5 employees or more. In an effort to educate the public about the new law, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has released a standard notice for employers to use. You can find the standard notice here. Below are some general answers to frequently asked questions.

Who is a covered employer?

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above-the-bar-logo-no12Our New York Medicaid Fraud Lawyers are often asked to provide their insight and guidance to employees who want to blow the whistle on healthcare fraud. While there used to be a stigma of coming forward, events in recent years have shown that it pays to be a whistleblower. Not only does the employee-whistleblower shine a light on inappropriate activity and help society at large by doing so, if handled correctly there may be a significant benefit to the whistleblower too. This can be a tricky area. It is critical to speak with an experienced attorney before taking any steps. A misstep can be costly.

Over the past three years, New York State has recovered over 1.7 billion dollars in medicaid fraud. The efforts of whistleblower, private counsel and the Office of Medicaid Inspector General are helping to reduce fraud, abuse and waste. An audit was conducted of a business in Westchester County – the Abbott House in Irvington. According to the results of the audit, it was alleged that not all of the required information to support reimbursement claims under the Medicaid consumer program were kept. Over $250,000 was recovered as part of this audit. This is just one example of a recovery. Many other cases involve duplicate billing, improper kickbacks, benefits paid to ineligible individuals and payments made to ineligible providers.

If you are aware of any improper information and want to know your rights, call our office to speak with an experienced attorney on a confidential basis and learn your options and how we can help you. Below are some of most common examples of healthcare fraud:

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above-the-bar-logo-no12Our Award Winning Whistleblower Attorneys have been asked to comment on the recent landmark case where a California jury awarded $6 million to a former employee at Playboy Enterprises (“Company”). The employee, Catherine Zulfer, was a senior vice-president and controller with the Company, alleged that she was retaliated against because she refused to approve one million dollars of bonus payments that were not authorized by the Board of Directors. Specifically, she alleged that after she complained to the Company’s General Counsel that its executives were trying to circumvent accounting controls in violation of SEC rules, her employment of thirty years was suddenly terminated. She then filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination (she was 56 at the time of her termination), retaliation of whistleblower protections afforded by the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”). After years of litigation, a jury of her peers returned the largest verdict ever issued under SOX and also found the Company had engaged in age discrimination when it fired older workers as a campaign to save costs. It can still get worse for the Company as the jury will soon rule on punitive damages since it found that the Company acted with “malice, fraud or oppression.” The Company could be looking at millions more at risk. While the Company plans to appeal, this case has some interesting takeaways from potential whistleblowers:

1. Do not be afraid to stand up for what is right. Ms. Zulfer defied the executives and complained to the General Counsel when she thought rules were being broken.

2. Don’t assume that high level executives always get it right. Whether it was because of greed or other reasons, high level executives were alleged to be trying to evade complex accounting mechanisms. Fraud occurs at all levels of an organization.

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Thumbnail image for top.lawyers.arrive.mag.2011.jpgAccording to government reports, Dr. Gustave Drivas was convicted of health care fraud conspiracy and health care fraud. The government asserted that Dr. Drivas worked for a Brooklyn clinic where cash kickbacks were paid to Medicare beneficiaries and used the beneficiaries’ names to bill more than $75 million for medical services that were never provided or not necessary. These types of schemes are two of the most common types of fraud perpetuated against the federal government. Our Medicaid Fraud Attorneys have counseled many employees and individuals who have confronted fraud in the workplace. Such situations can be complex and, if not handled appropriately, can potentially lead to exposure if the whistleblower becomes involved in the scheme. Below is a checklist of things to consider:

1. Call our office at (800) 893-9645 or other experienced attorneys to schedule a confidential consultation to learn your rights and options.

2. Take care to gather documents that reveal the fraud and support your claims. It is critical to ensure that you do not violate the law or other relevant policies by doing so. This underscores the importance of seeking experienced counsel’s advice before taking any steps.

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above-the-bar-logo-no12As further proof of the United States Department of Labor’s increasing efforts to crack down on non-compliant employers, two professional sports teams – San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins – are reportedly under federal investigation. This should serve as an important reminder to smaller employers that they need to be vigilant about their compliance efforts and pay practices – after all, even large employers can make such mistakes, which can be costly in terms of taking away from time from running your business and defense expenses. It is critical to understand most of these alleged pay practice violations are technical in nature and do not evidence malicious intent. However, generally intent is not required to prevail in these actions and errors can lead to class-wide implications. It is important to speak with an experienced employment lawyer to review your pay practices and ensure that your business is in compliance before a government audit or private lawsuit is commenced.

San Francisco Giants and Alleged Pay Practice Violations – Allegations of Unpaid Interns & More

It has been reported that the US Department of Labor is investigating the San Francisco Giants for potential wage and hour violations. Specifically, it is alleged that the San Francisco Giants did not possibly pay its interns. These types of lawsuits are becoming more and more prevalent in recent years. The following six criteria must be applied when analyzing whether an unpaid internship is allowed: