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New York Employment Law Blog

What business owners should know about their nuisance number

There’s an old saying about being in business: if you’re in business long enough, you are going to get sued. Such an ominous prediction is not necessarily what an up and coming entrepreneur wants to hear, but it is often an unfortunate reality facing business owners.

Our system of justice embraces the adversarial process and it is (for some litigants) the last resort when it comes to solving a legal dispute. While litigation is a civil form of a dispute resolution, litigants complain that there are rarely any winners in a contested case that goes to trial. This is commonly because both sides spend an inordinate amount of money and may not get what they believe they deserve in the end.

Buying out a partner

A business partnership can be a lot like a marriage. You share the same dreams and make plans, spending a lot of time working hard to make them happen. Sometimes, when there is a disagreement there is no way to resolve it other than what feels like a divorce.

Buyouts happen all the time in the financial sector because partners see a need to go their separate ways. It can happen without a lot of emotions, but it’s important to be ready for the worst even as you hope for the best. As with everything in finance, attention to details makes all the difference.

Non-disclosures & other covenants – enforceable?

It’s more and more common for a company to have some kind of intellectual property it needs to protect. This can be technology or other trade secrets, but it can also be data on sales prospects or clients. It could even be what makes up a special sauce. Every company has its own information which gives it an edge.

For that reason, restrictive covenants or restrictions on what an employee can do after leaving are more important all the time. It’s also commonly believed that they are difficult to impossible to enforce. That’s not true at all if they are reasonable, with proper consideration of the circumstances and the law.

Supreme Court narrows Wall Street whistleblower protections

A recent Supreme Court ruling could have significant consequences for would-be whistleblowers on Wall Street. In a unanimous decision, the justices ruled that employees are not safe from retaliation from their employers if they do not first report corporate wrongdoings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The ruling comes as something of a blow to an existing federal law that aimed to fight fraud on Wall Street. That law, enacted by Congress in 2010, offered protections to whistleblowers who reported corporate malfeasance—a response to the devastating financial crisis that took place just a few years earlier.

Albany whistleblower receives $173,000 in court judgment

A demolition company based in Albany was recently ordered to pay out a six-figure judgment to a former worker. The company had let go of the employee after he had reported improper asbestos removal practices, which per the court, was a violation of his “whistleblower” rights.

The man noticed the hazardous asbestos removal while working at a jobsite at a high school. After reporting the safety risk to his company’s management, they fired him the very next day.

Age discrimination in job ads on Facebook sparks a lawsuit

A federal lawsuit has been filed against Amazon, T-Mobile and others for allegedly discriminating against older employees. The companies placed recruitment ads on Facebook that were targeted to specific age groups. The lawsuit states that the age based targeting practice violates the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA).

 

Can you be terminated while on FMLA?

There may come a time when you need to take a leave from work. Perhaps you are suffering from an illness or injury and need an extensive recovery time. Or maybe you just adopted a child and are taking a leave while going through the adjustment and bonding period. Regardless of the reason, you may be considering taking time away from work, with the expectation that you will have a job to return to.

Since the enactment of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993, eligible employees are able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. Under FMLA, the employer must keep the job open for the employee so they have a job when they are returning from the leave.

New York employers now barred from asking about salary history

A law went into effect on October 31, 2017 that significantly changes the way in which salary determinations – and negotiations – will occur throughout New York City. This law bars employers of all sizes, public and private alike, from asking applicants about their salary history during the hiring process. Only public agencies whose hiring practices and salary parameters are set by a collective bargaining agreement are exempt.

According to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the purpose of the law is to ensure that every worker is paid according to his or her qualifications and experience as applicable to the position, not locking them into a cycle of payment based simply on previous salary. NYCCHR research has shown that using salary history as a starting point for negotiations has the potential to create “a cycle of inequity and discrimination in the workplace, which perpetuates lower salaries specifically for women and people of color.”

Sexual harassment awareness on the job—has it changed?

Episodes of Mad Men gave us a glimpse into the sixties work culture, where comments about women’s bodies, clothes and general attractiveness were tolerated, and having a boss who propositioned you was not considered anomalous.

Times changed, rules got stricter, Human Resources started realizing sexual harassment was a big issue and some—but not all—things got better.

Discrimination and retaliation complaints on the rise

It’s every employee’s right to feel safe in the workplace and to have equal opportunity for advancement. While these truths sound self-evident, complaints of discrimination and retaliation for speaking up continue to rise.

Regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and by New York law, there are several classes protected against discrimination at work, among them: age, disability, nationality, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and marital status. In a review of 2016 stats—the most current available—complaints rose for the second consecutive year with nearly 100,000 in total.

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