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White Plains Employment And Commercial Law Blog

Re-evaluating policies in the wake of #MeToo campaign

Small business or large, it is important that employers take the time to ensure employee policies are set in place. Drafting these documents not only sets guidelines, but also helps to provide certain protections for employees as well as an employer. In the wake of the "#Me Too" campaign, it is an important time for employers in New York and elsewhere to re-evaluate their sexual harassment policies.

With the various movements going on across the nation, there has been a spike in the number of sexual harassment reports being filed. This is especially true in office settings. Addressing these incidents can be costly, averaging between $75,000 and $125,000 to settle a claim, typically out of court. In addition to costing a company a large sum, it could also result in a damaged image. It is vital to take steps to ensure the policies in the work environment can help protect against such a lawsuit.

Class action pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart

Employees in New York and elsewhere have certain expectations in the workplace. For the most part, this entails the laws that protect employees in any workplace. This typically includes the freedom of being discriminated against or harassed in the workplace. When incidents of these acts occur, employees have legal steps they can take to protect themselves. This could mean holding an employer accountable and even seeking damages for losses suffered.

According to recent reports, two New York women filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart for pregnancy discrimination. Apparently, when these women requested time off from work so that they could seek medical attention for pregnancy-related illnesses, they were faced with a difficult question by their employer: Do you choose your baby or your job?

Accommodations can mitigate issues

Employers and employees are often on opposite sides of any employment law issue. That does not have to be the case, if both sides work together they can get to a better result. The problem is that getting on the same page can often be difficult.

There is no better example what can go wrong without working together, than a recent lawsuit from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the filing, the plaintiff was removed from a job because of he was unable to work as assigned because of a medical condition. Eventually, he was removed by the staffing agency that had contracted him and was not given another placement.

What is unfair competition?

The success of a business is often reliant on the name the business has built for itself. It might take time, but a company's brand is what keeps a business going and helps with the retention of consumers. So, when another company essentially steals certain components from a business and that business is harmed because of it, this could cause a commercial dispute due to unfair competition.

Unfair competition occurs when there is a deceptive or wrongful business practice that results in economic harm. This is a serious matter, and business tort laws are designed to stop unfair practice that could occur in the context of a business setting. Both federal and state laws have been passed to protect the economic, intellectual and creative investments of a business. When they are put in jeopardy, there are steps for a business to take.

Understanding a severance agreement

When employment comes to an end, one typically associates this step with retirement. Unfortunately, employees in New York and elsewhere are let go for various reasons. Some of these are perfectly legit and legal reasons. In other cases, an employee might be unlawfully terminated. In these matters, an employee could take action to file a legal action. However, as a means to avoid litigation, an employer may offer a severance agreement.

A severance agreement is a contract that is entered into between an employee that is leaving and his or her employer. Typically, this agreement states that the employee will not sue the employer for wrongful termination or any other legal action related to their employment relationship. And in turn for not suing the employer, the employer provides the employee with additional compensation.

Helping you navigate a severance agreement

For most New Yorkers, they understand how difficult it can be to get a job. Thus, one is often focused on keeping a position once obtained. However, this is not always in our control. In some cases, an employee can no longer work in an environment he or she believes is unsafe or hostile. In other cases, an employment dispute might be present, making it necessary for an employee to leave their place of employment. Depending on the situation, it might require entering into an agreement.

A severance agreement can be used as a contract between and employee that is leaving and the employer. This agreement essentially spells out that the employee will not sue the employer for whatever employment-related issue at hand, and in return, the employer agrees to give some form of extra compensation to the employee, which is usually money or extended benefits.

What are ERISA bonds and how do they protect employee benefits?

When an employer hires employees, an employee will take the time to fully understand the benefits that come with their new position. This often means looking at specific benefits that provide funds for their future and their retirement. Take for example an ERISA qualified pension plan. This plan is devised to benefit employees; however, these funds could be compromised if theft or other crimes occur in the workplace.

What are ERISA bonds and how do they protect employee benefits? In simple terms, an ERISA bond is another form of insurance used to protect employee benefit plans. These bonds are taken out against those that control the funds of these plans, in other words, the fiduciaries. With regards to an ERISA qualified pension plan, fiduciaries would be the investment manager, investment advisors and trustees.

Trust and age discrimination

When you are applying for a job, or up for a promotion, and don't get it you can have many questions. One question that can cause massive damage is this: “was I passed over because of my age?”

Recently, the question above has become a central source of pain for Volkswagen in the form of a lawsuit claiming systemic age discrimination practices. A 53-year-old former assistant manager believes that the auto manufacturer’s moves to appear younger and more modern led directly to his demotion. If true, this would be a clear act of age discrimination that could cost Volkswagen millions.

Taking action when a patent is infringed

When owning and operating a business, there are many precautions to take into consideration. With regards to intellectual property, companies will take steps to help provide protection. A patent can offer protection; however, it is not a complete safeguard against infringement. Thus, when a patent holder believes that their patent is threatened, it is important to consider the steps available to them to address this issue or when there has been an actual infringement.

A patent infringement is when another party makes, uses or sells a patented item without the permission of the patent holder. When this occurs, the patent holder has the ability to sue this party to stop his or her activities. This is called an injunction. When this step is taken, it is also possible to seek compensation for the unauthorized use. However, because federal law governs intellectual property, this action must be filed in federal district court.

Discrimination causing Google's attrition of black employees

Being employed by a company means more than just representing the company and completing the work task assigned. An employee is a person afforded rights in the work environment, meaning that employers must treat each of them a certain way. This also means that employees have an expectation that they will be safe from certain events or treatment, such as discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination.

Current reports suggest that Google has a high attrition rate for employees that are black and Hispanic. The company recently released its annual diversity report, and for the first time in the company's history, data based on employee attrition was included as a means to gauge retention of certain employee cohorts. This report suggests that Google has a difficult time retaining black employees.

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