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Understand your rights after a wrongful termination

Individuals in New York change jobs with a fair amount of frequency. Some may decide that they would prefer to work for different employers or that they are ready for a complete change in their career paths. Others may find themselves out of work when their employers close their doors or when they are laid off. In some cases, workers may be singled out for dismissal and they may have no idea why their employers chose to let them go.

Although some firings and dismissals may feel wrongful, it is possible that the individuals' employers may have legitimate reasons for ending the individuals' employment. When employers fire employees for illegitimate or illegal reasons, however, the employees' dismissals may be examples of wrongful terminations.

Severance agreement: limiting employees’ ability to sue

As an employee, you may be offered a severance agreement if your company terminates your employment. The agreement states the date of termination, outlines offered payments or benefits and releases the company from claims you may wish to make against them.

A severance agreement is a contact between you and your employer. You agree to not sue the company in exchange for some sort of payment or benefit. In order for the severance agreement to be valid, the company must offer some sort of compensation that you would not be otherwise entitled to. Does this mean that signing the severance agreement removes all possibility of suing for discrimination?

What is a fiduciary duty and how may it be breached?

Individuals may form partnerships and alliances as they see fit to serve their interests and advance their causes. Businesses may do the same thing, and, in New York, when a corporation places trust in a person or other business and that other party is aware of that trust, then it may be said that a fiduciary relationship exists between them. The fiduciary is the party upon which the trust is place for the benefit of the other.

Fiduciaries are obligated to act in the best interests of the parties that place their trust in the fiduciary. Fiduciary relationships exist outside of business; the relationship between an attorney and their client also creates a fiduciary duty. When a fiduciary fails to meet their duties to those who expect them to act with care, then it is possible that a breach of fiduciary duty has occurred.

Constructive dismissals may give employees rights to seek damages

Most New Yorkers have had to work at jobs that they did not enjoy. Whether in their youth or while between careers, it is not uncommon for a person to have a horror story of a terrible job they left because it was just too awful or awkward to continue. While bad jobs of this sort are not unusual, jobs that are made so difficult to continue due to the working conditions provided by the employers may provide those who are forced to leave them with legal remedies through employment law.

When a job is made so terrible because of the actions or omissions of the employer, the employee in the job may resign. While in many cases an employee's decision to leave a job precludes them from pursuing wrongful termination claims, it may be possible for them to show that they were constructively dismissed from their work due to the overbearing challenges imposed by their unreasonable working conditions.

New rule to prohibit mandatory arbitration in consumer banking

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has just made a new rule official that would prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer banking and financial services contracts. However, the official publication of the rule may merely serve to expose it to attack from those who prefer arbitration or who believe the rule will be disruptive.

According to Reuters, now that the rule has been published in the federal register, any member of a council of top financial regulators could ask for the rule to be delayed by 10 days. The acting comptroller of the currency has already begun putting together a petition.

Nondisparagement clauses can obscure workplace discrimination

It is not uncommon for New York residents to sign various agreements when they begin working for new organizations. For example, they may be asked to agree to noncompete agreements that will prevent them from leaving their new employers for competitors. They may also agree to forego interests in any technologies or business plans that they create in their new jobs if they choose to sever their employment with their employers.

More recently, though, employees at tech companies and other high growth entities have been asked to sign off on nondisparagement agreements. These agreements effectively keep employees from saying bad things about their employers and in turn they may allow employers to conceal incidents of workplace discrimination from prospective employees.

What is unlawful retaliation after a sexual harassment complaint?

For workers in New York State who have filed a complaint about sexual harassment, it is unfortunate that the abusive behaviors that the person faced might continue in a different form. Unlawful retaliation can also happen and it too can be the basis for a legal filing. If an employee has complained about sexual harassment, retaliation is illegal. This is part of the Human Rights Law and a worker complaining is considered protected activity.

The following falls into the protected activity category: a person who has filed a formal written complaint regarding sexual harassment whether it is internal or through an anti-discrimination agency; a person who gave testimony or assistance in a proceeding that involved sexual harassment based on the Human Rights Law; a person who expressed opposition to sexual harassment by complaining in a verbal or informal manner to management or by telling a higher-up of harassment that was taking place; a person complaining about another employee being sexually harassed; or a person encouraging a fellow employee to complain about sexual harassment. If the employer has four or more employees, retaliation can occur with any other behavior that has been made illegal under the Human Rights Law.

Are you prepared to address employee complaints?

Workplaces are complicated. They involve a number of individuals with diverse beliefs, backgrounds and ideas on how to handle situations. Regardless of your company’s best efforts to foster a positive environment, issues will arise. As an employer, expect to receive employee complaints at some point.

What are employee rights for a meal breaks in New York?

Some of the most basic aspects of employee rights are often unknown to workers. There could be many reasons for this from not understanding the law or pressure from the employer. Regardless, workers should be aware of such issues as their time allowed for meals and take legal steps, if these are not adhered to or they face wrongful termination because they asserted their rights.

A person who is employed in or connected with a factory has the right to a minimum of 60 minutes during the noon hours for a meal. People who are employed in or connected to a mercantile will be allowed a minimum of 30 minutes for a meal in the noon hours.

Helping you take action against workplace discrimination

When individuals in New York are interviewed, hired or terminated at a workplace, they believe that these employment decisions are based on their qualifications, experiences and work performance. However, in some unfortunate situations, employees can experience employment decisions that are not based on their qualities but rather characteristic traits that are protected by civil rights laws. Workplace discrimination could happen at any phase of employment, and it is important for employees to note that this is not legal and remedies are available to them.

Federal laws that are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ensure that there is an equal treatment of employees across the nation. In the state of New York, the State Division of Human Rights further enforces their rights. Despite having these enforcement agencies in place, discrimination in the workplace still occurs. Thus, the attorneys at Mitchell, Pollack & Associates, PLLC, are dedicated to assisting employees in the Westchester area protect these rights and take legal action.

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