New York Employment Law Blog

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Domino's Faces Wage Theft Charges in New York

Did Domino's violate state and federal labor and wage laws?

The parent of Domino's Pizza and three franchisees operating 10 shops in New York were recently hit with a wage theft lawsuit by the New  York Attorney General.

The suit claims that Domino's paid workers less than minimum wage, failed to pay overtime, took inappropriate tip credits, and failed to reimburse employees for using their cars or bicycles to make deliveries. In sum, the suit alleges that workers were deprived of at least $565,000 in wages and other compensation.

In a statement, Domino's head of investor relations said that the lawsuit "disregards the nature of franchising and demeans the roll of small business owners." The company contends it does not have a joint legal responsibility with the franchisees.

Read more . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Google Facing Age Discrimination Probe

Is age discrimination a serious problem in the tech sector?

The tech sector is known for its innovative entrepreneurs that have changed the contemporary business landscape and reshaped traditional notions of corporate culture. At the same time much of the work force is comprised of workers under 40 years of age and some observers argue that there is widespread age discrimination in the industry.

Now, a federal lawsuit has revealed that the search engine giant Google is under investigation for alleged age discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In a recent filing, a plaintiff accused Google of stonewalling the probe by the federal agency.

The plaintiff is a systems engineer who was interviewed on a number of occasions between 2007 and 2014.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Associational Discrimination Under New York State Human Rights Law

The New York State Division of Human Rights has issued a new regulation prohibiting “discrimination against an individual because of that individual’s known relationship or association with a member or members of a protected category covered under the relevant provisions of the Human Rights Law,” otherwise known as “associational discrimination.”  This new regulation applies to all areas of the New York State Human Rights Law, including employment, public accommodations, the purchase or rental of property, access to educational institutions and credit.

The new law states that an individual can “prove a claim of discrimination based on a known relationship or association” by establishing that “they are aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice by showing they have been be subjected to an adverse action as specified in relevant provisions of the Human Rights Law because of their known relationship or association with a member or members of a protected category covered under the relevant provisions of the Human Rights Law.”  The law protects discrimination against any individual because of that person’s “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, or domestic violence victim status.”

The protection against associational discrimination comes on the heels of the New York State Division of Human Rights regulations that were recently enacted to expressly prohibit discrimination against employees based on their gender identity.

Read more . . .

Monday, June 27, 2016

Building a Workplace Harassment Suit against a “Perv” Architect

What behavior constitutes harassment in the workplace?

Many workers are unhappy at their jobs or complain about their slave-driver bosses or annoying supervisors. But when does behavior cross the line from disrespectful to discrimination and from inappropriate to harassment? Each case requires a subjective evaluation of the facts and evidence.

Consider the pending Manhattan Supreme Court case against Peter Marino, a leather-clad, allegedly self-proclaimed “perv” male architect boss accused of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment toward his gay male textile designer employee. The employee claims he was repeatedly subjected to taunts and unwanted offers of sex, called a “f----t”, and was flashed by the boss whose penchant for low-cut leather clothes exposed his pubic hair, butt crack, and even his genitalia. After complaining, the employee, who is still working, alleges further harassment and retaliation ensued.

Read more . . .

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Discrimination at the Workplace

An employee has the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace pursuant to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).  The NYCHRL applies to any New York employer who has four or more employees.  Discrimination covered by the law can range from disparate treatment or harassment on the grounds of gender, a medical condition, pregnancy, or childbirth, along with other variations.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Restroom Access Rights for Transgender Employees

What can you do if your employer does not allow you to use the restroom because you are transgender?

What was until recently a basic, taken-for-granted act – walking into and using a restroom at your place of work – has turned into a national controversy fuelled by emotion and prejudice but very recently calmed by the intervention of the federal government and the application of the rule of law.

As a transgender person, you need to know that restricting a transgender employee’s access to restrooms that is not consistent with the employee’s gender identity constitutes unlawful sex discrimination. The ruling is contained in a Fact Sheet recently issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Read more . . .

Saturday, May 28, 2016

New Overtime Rule: Costs v. Benefits

How does the new overtime rule impact business owners?

The Labor Department issued sweeping changes this month to overtime rules regarding the "white collar" exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act for executive, administrative, professional and highly-compensated employees.

New Overtime Rule at Glance

As of December 1, 2016, employees earning an annual salary less than $47, 476 ($913 a week) will be entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. This more than doubles the current threshold of $23,660.

Read more . . .

Friday, May 20, 2016

The DOL Issues The Final Overtime Rule For White Collar Exemptions

As indicated in my prior posts, new changes were proposed by the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (the “DOL”) for “white collar” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act – being the executive, administrative, professional and highly-compensated employee exemptions.  The changes have now been approved.

On December 1, 2016, the final rule will go into effect, which is anticipated to affect over 4 million salaried workers.  Here are some highlights of the rule:

  • The salary threshold for white collar employees will increase to $47,476 per year (or $913 per week), which is an increase from the current salary of $23,660 per year (or $455 per week). 
  • The salary threshold for highly compensated employees will increase to $134,004 per year, up from $100,000 per year.
    Read more . . .

Friday, April 8, 2016


On April 4, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that will gradually increase the minimum wage in New York (for most workers) to $15.00 per hour and will also provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. 

Minimum Wage Increases

The minimum wage increases will begin throughout the State on December 31, 2016, but by how much will depend on where the employee works.  Below is a table that summarizes the increases, showing the hourly minimum wage that will be in effect for the year depending on the location of the employer:

Read more . . .

Friday, November 13, 2015

$15 Per Hour Minimum Wage A Reality

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that New York will be raising it minimum wage to $15 per hour for all state employees.  This increase will put New York’s public employees well ahead of other states on their minimum wage rates.

Gov. Cuomo stated that the increase is being made out of “basic fairness and basic justice,” as people who work full-time should “not be condemned to live in poverty.”  At the current minimum wage rate of $8.75 per hour (which will increase to $9.00 per hour on December 31, 2015), a full-time worker (one who works forty hours per week) earns a little over $18,000 per year. 

The increase will occur gradually, with State workers in New York City earning $15 per hour by the end of 2018, while State workers outside New York City will see the wages rise more slowly, hitting the $15 per hour rate by the end of 2021.  The increase is expected to affect about 10,000 state employees, including 1,000 in New York City alone.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Facebook “Likes” Are Protected Under NLRA

Last week, in the case of Three D, LLC d/b/a Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille v. National Labor Relations Board, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the National Labor Relation Board’s (“NLRB”) decision that employees’ Facebook postings are protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). 

This case involved two employees and one former employee of a sports bar discussing – through social media – their belief that they were cheated out of wages by their employer because of alleged improper tax withholdings.  More specifically, on Facebook, the former employee posted the following: “Maybe someone should do the owners of Triple Play a favor and buy it from them. They can’t even do the tax paperwork correctly!!! Now I OWE money…Wtf!!!!”  One employee “liked” the post, and another employee commented with: “I owe too. Such an [expletive].”  The two employees were then terminated and a lawsuit was filed.

Under the NLRA, employees have the right to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid and protection, and employers are prohibited from interfering, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of that right.  In this case, the Court noted that the “like” and comment were made by then-current employees with respect to how their wages were being treated.  The Court held that such activities – here, in the form of social media use – were protected concerted activities concerning workplace rights.

Notably, the Court rejected the employer’s argument that the use of obscene language removed the communications from protected activity under the NLRA, and also found that the posts were not sufficiently disloyal or defamatory to remove the protections of the NLRA.  This further demonstrates the pro-employee stance taken by the NLRB in this area.  Indeed, earlier this year, the NLRA began scrutinizing policies in employee handbooks where employees could not freely discuss their workplace conditions with each other without fear of discipline. 

What’s the fallout?  Employers should carefully review their social media policies to ensure that they do not restrict their employees’ NLRA rights, and understand whether an employee is exercising those rights before taking an adverse employment action.

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