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White Plains Employment And Commercial Law Blog

The Demise Of “Culture Fit.”

Largely coinciding with the tech boom in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, companies began searching for terms to define their hiring needs in fun, creative ways. Ads started listing personality traits alongside education and experience. Prospective workers were described as fun or hip or energetic. They were “digital natives” and “tech savvy.” Soon, all of these traits began to merge into what companies would define as their culture.

Unfortunately, culture and the expected descriptor of whether an applicant was a “culture fit” soon became the defining new-hire characteristic. But, nearly two decades later, has “culture fit” taken on a sinister tone?

How can unsafe product claims affect my business?

Products liability law covers litigation based on personal injuries sustained from defective or dangerous consumer products. If a New York resident buys a new product, uses it as the product was intended to be used and sustains an injury from that use that should not have been anticipated from the warnings and instructions provided therein, then the individual may be a victim of a products liability matter.

These types of cases are often approached from the perspective of the alleged victim, the consumer. However, it is important to note that there is at least one other party that will be involved in a products liability case: the maker or seller of the allegedly defective product. A company may be forced to defend itself from claims that it put dangerous goods into the stream of commerce and that its actions caused innocent individuals to suffer physical harm.

What to do when your business receives an EEOC complaint

Claims of discrimination can be difficult for businesses to defend and can cause employers a great deal of stress. It is advisable for New York employers to consult with business and employment law attorneys when they face employee-driven challenges based on claims of discrimination, wrongful termination and other legally impermissible employment actions.

When an employee reports an adverse employment action to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a review of the claim will be initiated. An employer will receive notification of the pending claim and may be invited to mediate the accusations with the employee. If the employer decides not to mediate the matter, then they will be required to respond to the employee's claims in a written statement.

We can help protect your rights as a New York worker

Those individuals who hold down jobs often do so because they must earn incomes to support themselves and their families. They may have mortgages to pay, children's educational costs to cover and a myriad of other expenses that come due each week, month or year. Without their jobs, their lives may become significantly more challenging and their financial obligations may go unmet.

While it is not uncommon for men and women to decide to leave their jobs on their own terms in order to pursue other opportunities, it is also unfortunately common for them to lose their jobs due to poor practices engaged in by their employers. Terminations based on harassment or retaliation can happen when workers speak up and call out wrongs committed in their places of employment.

Is your non-competition agreement valid?

When an individual begins work for a new employer, they must often sign a host of documents related to their prospective work and the rights and responsibilities that they will enjoy in their new occupational position. New York employers sometimes include in those hiring agreements specific terms related to the limits they wish to place on their new employees' options for seeking employment with competing entities. These stand-alone contracts or terms incorporated into other documents are effective non-competition agreements and NCAs must abide by certain criteria in order to be valid.

First, an NCA must be supported by consideration at the time the employee signs off on the contract. This means that the employee is getting something in return for agreeing to forego opportunities with entities that compete for business with the employer. Often, getting a paying job is considered sufficient consideration for the validity of an NCA.

Does your office need sexual harassment training?

With the recent string of sexual harassment allegations in the entertainment industry, it’s worth looking internally at your own business to see if any of the behaviors – whether they are small or large acts of aggression – are treated as permissive in the workplace.

If there is any question about the behavior of even one of your employees, this is a good time to ask: Do we need to undergo sexual harassment training?

Unfair competition is bad for your business and we can help

It is not uncommon for a New York business owner to pour their soul into making their enterprise successful. Individuals often half-jokingly refer to their businesses as their children because of the amount of time and attention that they devote to them. Just as a business owner may celebrate the accomplishments and achievements that their entity obtains, they may also feel the stresses and strains of unfair competition when others attempt to derail the successes that their business has earned.

Last week, this blog discussed unfair competition in business and summarized the concept as actions that may be harmful to other entities or consumers. It can arise from broken contracts, shared trade secrets and a myriad of other deleterious actions. And, while an individual who engages in unfair competition and deceitful business practices may not care that their actions will hurt another entity, they should know that their victim may have rights to seek damages for the wrongs they have endured.

An overview of unfair competition in business

When children at a New York park engage in a game of hide-and-seek, there are expectations that those participants will abide by certain rules. For example, the participants may agree where is appropriate and inappropriate to hide, may decide how high the seeker must count before looking for the hiders, and where home base will be located so that the participants know where they must reach in order to be safe. If a participant fails to follow the established rules, then they may be met with a chorus of cheating accusations.

The same can hold true when businesses are accused of violating contracts and other business rules of conduct. If a business is alleged to have engaged in unfair competition or unfair business practices, they may be pursued by those who claim to have been hurt by the alleged unfair conduct and who wish to recover damages related to those alleged events. In essence, a business may face unfair competition claims if others they work with believe that they have, in some way, cheated.

Racial discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Race is a weighty topic in American politics because the laws and policies that our nation's lawmakers enact have direct impacts on how we live our lives. Race is also an important topic when it comes to our workplaces. In New York and the rest of the United States, employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on their race.

The bulk of the federal anti-racial discrimination legislation stems from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Title VII, employers are not allowed to group workers together based on their race, may not pay or provide fewer benefits or workplace perks to individuals of different races, and may not impose adverse work decisions, such as discipline and terminations, on individuals due to their inclusion in a particular race.

What should be covered in an employee handbook?

Although some New York businesses are enterprises run exclusively through the efforts of individuals, most companies require the work of employees to maintain their operations. While having employees is an incredible asset, problems and issues can arise when those workers do not have clear guidance on what is expected of them. Employee handbooks can be effective business tools to provide workers with information on employer policies and employers with documentation of what they expect from those individuals who work for them.

A good employee handbook will cover a variety of topics. It should provide a discussion of the company as a whole and, in some cases, may include information about the entity's history, if such context is relevant to the employees' jobs. It should describe what conduct and expectations of professionalism the employer has for those who work for them and may include restrictions on behaviors that employees may not engage in during the course of their employment, such as no tolerance policies for harassment.

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