Attorney Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” says Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislation that would crack down on nail salons which exploit their workers or operate without a license will provide much-needed protection for the employees who work in dangerous conditions while not being justly compensated.
On May 18, Governor Cuomo proposed a bill that would authorize the state to shut down or place hefty fines on businesses that break the law. The legislation would allow unlicensed nail workers to register with the state as trainees so they can still work while studying to obtain their licenses.
Under the legislation, businesses must provide protective equipment to their employees, such as respirators for those working on acrylic nails, and goggles when transferring hazardous materials such as nail polish remover between containers. They must also post an employee Bill of Rights and any cease-and-desist notices they receive. Further, those establishments that operate without a license will be closed until they receive the proper permits, while legitimate salons may lose their licenses if they violate the law.
“For too long, these hardworking employees have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous nail salon owners who have cheated them out of their pay, exposed them to hazardous chemicals which led to health problems and confined them to abusive work conditions,” Mr. Sack says. “I urge the state Legislature to pass this bill so that these workers can be afforded the protections they deserve.”
Mr. Sack is available to comment further on the subject.
About Steven Mitchell Sack
Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer®,” has been enforcing workplace rights of employees, executives, and sales representatives for over 30 years. He is a practicing attorney concentrating in employment law, as well as an author of 19 books, a lecturer and syndicated radio talk show host. He obtained a favorable Court of Appeals decision for a group of waiters who were denied their fair share of tips that were held back by a well-known cruise establishment. For more information, visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.
Last year, Mayor de Blasio signed into effect new sick leave laws that would offer employees greater protection by expanding the previous legislation. Recently, companies such as Best Buy and FedEx have been fined for not complying with the law that went into effect last April.
The new law provided that the definitions of family members were expanded to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings; providing immediate coverage to employees who would otherwise have been “phased in”; and removed the exemptions that applied to the manufacturing sector. 500,000 workers who did not previously have paid sick leave acquired it as a result of the new legislation.
FedEx received fines amounting to $33,600 as a result of violating the new law. An employee complaint launched an investigation that revealed workers were denied sick leave between April 1, 2014 and December 7, 2014. As a result, FedEx was required to credit sick leave to 165 employees and pay out $15,000 in restitution to another 30 employees. In addition, other employers in New York such as Best Buy, American Girl Place, Primo Cappuccino, Lismir Cards and the East Harlem Council for Human Services have all been fined for not complying with the new laws.
Many workers’ advocates celebrated the new law which prevents workers from having to choose between their jobs and their health, or the health of their family members. Low wage workers no longer need to fear being fired as a result of taking a sick day.
If you feel you have been wrongly denied sick leave, contact an experienced employment attorney who will strive to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact an experienced New York Employment Attorney who will get you the compensation you deserve. Call Steven Mitchell Sack at (917) 371-8000 or email him at sms@StevenSack.com. You can also visit his website at http://theemployeeslawyer.com/
McDonald’s has recently taken measures to improve wages and benefits for its employees. However, these newly implemented policies will only affect those employed by the company stores, not franchisees. As part of the new benefits, employees will see an increase in salary to at least $1 above the local minimum wage, eligibility for time off, and a new program applying to all employees who wish to earn a high school diploma or fund their college education. 90,000 workers would be affected at 1,500 McDonald’s restaurants. This means that 90% of McDonald’s workers would not see these benefits as the majority of the restaurants are franchisee-owned.
As wage pressure becomes increasingly competitive, companies such as McDonald’s are raising wages of employees. Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, set the trend in raising wages in February prompting economic analysts to point out that wage increases will lead to a tightened job market.
Additionally, there has been a recent movement across college campuses in the U.S. to raise wages to $15. Those involved in the movement have expressed concern about graduating from college into a job market that doesn’t provide for them to repay their student loan debts. The advocates of the campus movement believe they have had an impact, beginning with Walmart’s wage boosts. In addition, since the beginning of the year, 21 states have increased the minimum wage. Seattle raised its minimum wage to $15, making it the highest minimum wage in the country.
The Federal Fair Labors Standard Act requires that your employer pay you at least the minimum wage in addition to overtime. If you believe that you have not been compensated fairly as an employee, contact an experienced attorney who will fight for your right to a fair wage. Contact an experienced New York Employment Attorney today. Call Steven Mitchell Sack at (917) 371-8000 or email him at sms@StevenSack.com. You can also visit his website at http://theemployeeslawyer.com/
In the much anticipated Supreme Court decision in the case of Young v. UPS, the Court remanded the case back to the 4th Circuit. Although the Supreme Court did not directly decide the issue of whether UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, in not offering Young a disability accommodation due to her pregnancy, it held that Young’s claim should at least be heard. Advocates celebrated this as a victory because at least Young would have her day in court that had been denied by the lower courts. Young’s attorney considered the decision to be a “big step forward towards enforcing the principle that a woman shouldn’t have to choose between her pregnancy and her job.”
The case concerned whether UPS had violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in not accommodating Young’s request for a light duty work assignment during her pregnancy, based on her doctor’s orders. UPS argued that its policy was pregnancy neutral in that it treated pregnant employees and non-pregnant employees the same when it came to injuries that did not result from employment. Both the district court, and 4th Circuit rejected hearing Young’s argument on the grounds that she could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Although the Supreme Court decided that pregnant employees should not be granted a “most favored nation” status, it did hold that UPS would have to justify a nondiscriminatory reason for Young’s difference in treatment compared with the accommodations given to injured employees.
While Young v. UPS dealt with federal law (the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act), at least twelve states have enacted protection for pregnant workers into legislation by providing that employers must regard pregnancy in the same way it treats a worker with a disability and therefore must offer reasonable accommodations.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against as a result of your pregnancy, contact an experienced New York Employment Attorney today. Call Steven Mitchell Sack at (917) 371-8000 or email him at sms@StevenSack.com. You can also visit his website at http://theemployeeslawyer.com/.
Abercrombie and Fitch has been subjected to several lawsuits in the last few years based on the company’s appearance policy. CEO Mike Jeffries was quoted in 2013 remarking that the company’s objective is to target “good looking people” which is why they “hire good looking people.” The company has been accused of discrimination based on weight, physical disabilities, appearance, and religion.
On February 25, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning a previously filed EEOC complaint regarding one of Abercrombie and Fitch’s personal appearance policies. A teenager who had applied for a sales position with the company was not hired because she was required to wear a head scarf as part of her religious beliefs. This is similar to a lawsuit won against Abercrombie and Fitch in 2010 in which the plaintiff was fired for refusing to remove her religious head scarf while working on the floor. A decision is expected by July.
Under Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer cannot discriminate against employees for their religious practices and must reasonably accommodate their religious needs. Furthermore, an employer may not fire an employee due to her religious beliefs or apply personal appearance rules to religious observers that are discriminatory and inconsistent with their beliefs.
In order to avoid lawsuits, the following summarizes what companies are obligated to do:
- Employers have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations to the religious needs of employees.
- Employers must give time off for the Sabbath or holy days except in an emergency.
- If employees don’t come to work, employers may give them leave without pay, may require equivalent time to be made up, or may allow employees to charge the time against any other leave with pay, except sick pay.
- Employers may not discriminatorily apply personal appearance rules to religious observers.
- Employers may not fire workers as a result of their religious beliefs.
If you or a loved one believes that you have been fired or received poor treatment due to personal appearance practices required by your religious beliefs, you may have a legal claim. Contact an experienced New York Employment Attorney who will fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled that companies are not obliged to pay employees for the time they spend undergoing security checks at the end of their shifts.
The case presenting the issue of overtime pay involved the elite online marketplace Amazon.com and employees of a company in Nevada responsible for processing and shipping amazon purchases.
Specifically, the employees of the Nevada company had sued the company for back wages and overtime pay. They claimed that they should have been compensated for time spent in security screenings. While the employees claimed that such screenings, designed to prevent against theft, took up to 30-minutes, Amazon maintained, that the screening process is designed to take 90-seconds per employee.
In a 9-0 vote, the Supreme Court determined that the employees could not claim compensation for time spent undergoing a 30-minute screening aimed at protecting against theft. Read more
The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case (Young v. UPS, 12-1226) that has the potential to affect how pregnant workers are accommodated in the workplace.
The case involves popular package and parcel shipping company, UPS, and a female employee who had been working as a driver in Landover, Maryland. After becoming pregnant in 2006, the employee submitted a doctor’s note backing her request for a temporary assignment to avoid lifting heavy packages.
UPS declined to accommodate the employee and doctor’s request, reiterating its policy that drivers must be able to lift packages weighing up to 70 pounds. Unable to comply with the company’s policy, she left work and returned two months after having delivered her baby. During this two month period, consequently, the employee lost her health insurance, and couldn’t collect unemployment because she wasn’t fired.
Specifically, the question that the Supreme Court will address is whether UPS was required to accommodate its pregnant employee since it gave temporary assignments to other workers, including those who were injured on the job or had a condition that was covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Read more
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) automatically qualifies certain types of workers who meet overtime pay requirements for guaranteed overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a single week (or daily overtime limits set by New York overtime laws). If your work involves manual labor (such as construction worker, factory attendant, cashier, etc.) you most likely fall within the protections of overtime law.
Additionally, certain specific job positions such as first-responders, police, paramedics, and firefighters, are specifically offered overtime protection under the FLSA as well as practical nurses and paralegals, who would otherwise fall under the exempted category. These specific protections are in place because these particular professionals often endure long hours of work, and may be otherwise exploited or overworked by their employers.
Overtime Exemptions in New York State
Overtime laws in New York State are designed to prevent workers from being exploited by their employers. Hourly wage earners are the primary protected group. Because of the nature of the work environment and working hours required by certain careers, there are a wide variety of specific exemptions to New York overtime eligibility. Out of an estimated 120 million workers in America, almost 50 million are exempt from overtime laws, including:
- Executives, administrators, and other professionals earning at least $455 per week do not have to be paid overtime under Section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- External salespeople (who often set their own hours) are also exempted from NY overtime requirements, as are some types of computer-related workers.
- Independent contractors, who are not considered legal employees, are also exempt from overtime law.
- Other exempt positions include some transportation workers, certain agricultural and farm workers, and some live-in employees such as housekeepers.
In order to determine if a job is exempt from overtime, the FLSA provides a series of tests to determine the overtime eligibility of an employee based on pay rate, working conditions, skill level, and other factors.
If your job position does not fall into one of the four main exemption categories to overtime law (executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales) your job is eligible for overtime protection under New York and Federal overtime law. Your employer is required by law to pay you an overtime premium for all qualifying overtime hours worked.
If your employer owes you overtime pay, or if you are unsure about your eligibility, an New York employment attorney will work with you to ensure you receive your fair wages for all hours worked. A skilled employment attorney can afford you the representation you deserve and ensure your legal rights are protected.
In a recent groundbreaking decision announced on October 23, 2014, the United States Office of Special Council found that the United States Army discriminated against a transgender civilian worker who transitioned from male to female.
According to the report, the employee, a disabled vet, was working in the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (“AMRDEC”) in Redstone, Alabama, when she transitioned from male to female in 2010.
During that time, the Office of Special Council found that her employer engaged in a several discriminatory practices including, improperly restricting her restroom usage, referencing her with male pronouns, excessively monitoring her conversations with coworkers, and not giving her work. Read more
A September 1, 2014 report by the New York Times, revealed an increase in lawsuits across the nation, charging various employers of violating minimum wage and overtime laws. Some of the allegations include erasing work hours and wrongfully taking employees’ tips.
Both federal and state officials argue that more companies are violating wage laws than ever before. Officials speculate that these violations are motivated by competition and higher profits. However, another argument supposes that the structure of these businesses essentially incentivizes wage theft due to their organizational structure.
For example, the labor department argues that the increased use of franchise operators, subcontractors, and temp agencies leads to more employers being squeezed on costs and more cutting corners. As a result, the companies on top can deny any knowledge of wage theft. Read more