One of most commonly violated provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act is the requirement of paid overtime for work in excess of 40 hours per week. Some employers resort to misleading job titles in an attempt to make their employees exempt from the overtime requirements, while other employers simply ignore the law and refuse to pay overtime.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights is best known for its regulation of discrimination in housing and public accommodations, but it also has great power to control discrimination in the workplace. The Commission recently used this power by issuing new enforcement guidance concerning discrimination in employment decisions based upon actual or perceived national origin or immigration status.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently heard intense arguments about whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act bars employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. In the minds of most court observers, the presence on the Court of five solidly conservative justices has predetermined the outcome, but Justice Neil Gorsuch asked questions that indicated that he may not have made up his mind.
Among the most important federal regulations that govern employers and employees are the mandatory overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA was passed in 1938 during the Great Depression to ensure that workers received a fair minimum wage and that workers received paid overtime if they worked more than a specified number of hours in a week. The issue that probably causes more disputes than any other portion of these regulations is the question of an employee's eligibility for mandatory overtime pay. Employers have been trying to limit the application of the requirement, and employees and their representatives have been trying to expand the reach of this provision.
Most employers in New York are aware that they can be held liable for torts committed by their employees if the act falls within the employee's scope of employment. But what about newer forms of invasive behavior, such as sexual harassment. Many employers assume that they cannot control sexual harassment by employees and that they are therefore not liable for such behavior. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has a different opinion that it has expressed in a recently filed a lawsuit in Rochester, NY, against Wal-Mart Stores East, LP.
As the number of employees and former employees in New York who claim to have experienced sexual harassment and other employee rights violations increases, prominent people and employers are becoming more likely to be accused of misbehavior. This is part of the growing trend of people who were previously reluctant to come forward now feeling emboldened to do so and filing lawsuits seeking compensation for wrongdoing. When sexual harassment or other illegalities occur at work, those who are affected should think about their rights and understand that time might be of the essence to file a claim. Consulting with a qualified employment firm may prove beneficial when dealing with these circumstances.
Workers in the New York service industry will laud certain benefits of the job. It can provide them with a steady income, flexible hours, and the freedom for other pursuits. Still, there are certain aspects that bartenders, wait staff, and others in the restaurant trade will feel negatively about. They are often confronted with various forms of illegality and mistreatment. That can include harassment, failure to pay full wages, and other forms of abuse. When there is a workplace violation, these workers can be intimidated from coming forward as they feel they cannot afford to lose their job. This is a mistake, and consulting with an employment law firm is imperative to ensure an individual is being fully protected, as evidenced by one recent case.
There are many New Yorkers who are part of the LGBT community. In the not-too-distant past, these people were often forced to hide who they were to avoid problems at work, losing their jobs or not being hired at all simply because of their sexual orientation. Laws were enacted to protect these individuals. However, many employers and service providers protested saying that their religious beliefs were being violated by the protections granted to LGBT people. Now, a potential rule being promoted by the Trump administration can provide protection for government contractors who do not want to employ LGBT people. Those concerned about their employee rights or who have had their rights violated should obtain legal assistance.
Workers in New York and across the nation are now granted more freedom in lodging claims for compensation after their employee rights have been violated. Although it is easier for people to address cases when they have been mistreated, that does not mean certain behaviors will stop and people no longer need to worry about being subjected to employment violations. A recent study indicates that age discrimination is still a problem. Those who have faced it should remember their rights.