If you are working at Starbucks and think your “Shift supervisors” shouldn’t be sharing in your tips, then it may be time to move out of New York State and into Massachusetts.
The 2nd Circuit, whose jurisdiction extends to New York, Vermont and Connecticut, ruled against baristas in a class action claiming that their shift supervisors should not be allowed to grab a cut of their bounty under state labor law. In 2008, baristas Jeana Barenboim and Jose Ortiz sued Starbucks for more than $5 million on behalf of more than 5,000 of their fellow employees serving at 400 New York stores. They claimed that the chain’s corporate structure made them share their hard-earned tips with their “shift supervisors,” whom they alleged to be actually their bosses. This put the company in violation of New York Labor Law, according to the lawsuit.
According to the executive search firm Battalia Winston, 96% of corporations surveyed stated that they would hold holiday parties for their employees this year ― its highest level since 1997. That is up from 91% last year and 74% from two years ago. The survey also showed that 89% of the companies intended to spend the same as last year or more than last year.
For these companies, attorney Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” suggests ways to minimize litigation that may arise from situations brought on during corporate holiday parties.
Mr. Sack’s tips include:
Effective January 30, 2014, a new statute in New York City requires employers with four or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee or an employee recovering from childbirth or a related medical condition if the employee requests an accommodation and the accommodation will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of her job.
Specifically, on October 2, 2013, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Local Law 78 of 2013 and in the last few months, as part of its obligations under the new law, the New York City Human Rights Commission has released a written notice that employers must provide to:
• All new hires at the start of the employment; and
• All current employees on or before January 30, 2014
Attorney Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” suggests ways to minimize litigation that may arise from situations brought on during corporate holiday parties.
Mr. Sack’s tips include:
- Distribute a zero tolerance memo for sexual harassment. The document should define what constitutes inappropriate behavior and remind workers that anyone who commits sexual harassment before, during, or after the party will be subject to strict penalties, including possible immediate dismissal.
- Consider making the party an alcohol-free event. If alcohol is served, then the company should hire experienced bartenders only (as opposed to volunteer company employees), who are trained to stop serving liquor to those who have imbibed too much. The company should also consider offering car service where applicable.
- Schedule the party when office hours have concluded to avoid claims of failing to pay wages and overtime for hourly workers who attend the function or are required to attend.
- Consider having the event at a location away from, or not affiliated with the company. This will reduce the risk of theft of company property, trade secrets, or other valuable assets that can go missing at such events.
- Inform employees to act discreetly when taking pictures. Posting photographs on social networking sites that are provocative or embarrassing can be detrimental to the business. This is the not the kind of publicity any employer desires.
“The holiday season should be a time for celebration,” said Mr. Sack. “However, when rejoicing with colleagues during such festivities, employees should keep these instructions in mind. There is no need to ruin an enjoyable experience with unfortunate incidents that could have been easily avoided.
Attorney Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” was recently interviewed by Newsday in which an operating engineer at a not-for-profit hospital asked if the employer was being intrusive about his ailments. Mr. Sack says the hospital has certain legal rights to be informed of a worker’s injury or illness, but must be careful not to use an employee’s health information when making human resources decisions.
The employee suffered a broken foot as the result of falling off a ladder. After missing six months of work, the employee returned with a doctor’s note that cleared the employee to return to work. However, the human resources specialist — who is also a physician’s assistant (PA) — wanted to see if the employee had regained enough strength in the foot that was broken by performing exercises by walking around the room.
Also Calls for Financial Compensation for Performing Certain Work Duties
Attorney Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” says that college students who perform work duties at companies without pay should be extended the same protection from sexual harassment in the workplace as their paid counterparts. He says that the fact that they are unpaid should not make them more susceptible targets of their co-workers’ or supervisors’ unwanted advances.
As an employee you have many responsibilities. As a result you treasure the time you have off to enjoy your life with family and friends doing the things you love to do. A nice vacation, a golf outing, or maybe just a day at home relaxing are all activities many employees look forward to during the year. But can an employer monitor your activities and penalize you for legal activities outside the office? The answer is more complex than you would think.
Here’s a section of my book “The Employee Rights Handbook” just that. Get informed and know your rights!
An employer has certain rights to manage his/her business as he/she seems fit, and to ensure a safe working environment. However, an employee, as well as a private individual has certain privacy rights that the law protects. So where is the line drawn between what an employer is allowed to search for and where? And when does an employer’s actions cross the line regarding a search.
As an employee, it is vital to know your rights and to know what to look out for as possible violations by an employer. Here’s a section of my book “The Employee Rights Handbook” that deals with this area of the law and gives you a glimpse into what kind of questions you should be asking yourself to ensure your employer’s actions are legal. Get informed and know your rights!
Finding a job is hard enough without having to worry about the integrity of your employer. However, the amount of scams out there is numerous and if a potential employee is not careful, they can be the victim of one that can have major consequences for their career. It is vital to get informed and know what to ask and look for in a potential employer.
Here’s a section of my book “The Employee Rights Handbook” that deals with tips an employee should know before taking any position at a company. Get informed and know your rights to see how these laws may affect you!