The Right to Unionize

The Constitution of the United States guarantees its citizens the right to freely associate, and to peacefully assemble for political purposes. However, the modern labor union only dates to the 1930s, with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Until that point, labor unions were made illegal, and were often broken up by police, or sometimes even by the State or National Guard. Moreover, there are still many people who are not allowed to legally unionize, or who have their right to organize significantly restricted. How can this be true? Continue reading “The Right to Unionize”

When Employment Discrimination Gets Sneaky

When people think of employment discrimination, whether based on gender, race, age, sexuality or disability, they usually have a specific picture of what that looks like. They imagine bigoted tirades or inappropriate physical contact, or managers or executives outright declaring their refusal to treat certain kinds of people as equals. That said, with employers now more conscious of lawsuits than ever, discrimination can often take more subtle forms. Continue reading “When Employment Discrimination Gets Sneaky”

Uber Drivers Are Independent Contractors, Not Employees, According to NLRB

In a recent ruling, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that Uber drivers, and other ride-share drivers working for companies like Lyft, are independent contractors rather than employees. This means they do not have the right to unionize and are not afforded many of the legal protections they would receive if they were considered employees. Uber considers this ruling a major victory, as most of their workforce are drivers working under ride-share agreements, and their financial and legal obligations would have substantially increased if their drivers were ruled to be employees instead.

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Changes To The Freelance Law In New York City

In the beginning of 2017, New York City adopted The Establishing Protections for Freelance Workers Act.  The law provides that a company must:

  • Provide a written contract to a freelance worker for services of $800 or more,
  • All payments to a freelancer must be paid on a timely basis and in full; and
  • Prohibits retaliatory action against a freelancer for exercising his or her right under the law.

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Medical Exam Company Agrees to Stop Forcing its Employees from Entering into Restrictive Covenants

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently announced that Examination Management Services, Inc. (EMSI), a medical information and examination services firm, has agreed not to require its non-management employees in the state to enter into restrictive covenants, also known as non-compete agreements. This was reported in Newsday.

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College Athletes Petition to Become Union

For the first time in history, college athletes are petitioning to be represented by labor unions and have taken the first step in the process of being recognized as employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

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Golf Course Accused of Age Discrimination by Former Employee

Ramon Alcantara, a former employee of Pebble Beach Co. for over 20 years, alleges he was fired as a result of age discrimination late in 2013. According to the complaint, Alcantara, who is over 55 years of age, injured his back while replacing a 50-pound pump motor at the beach and tennis club.

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New Jersey Limits Employer Access to Employees’ Social Media Accounts

A new law which took effect on December 1, 2013 makes New Jersey the latest of a growing number of states – including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington – that prohibit employers from requesting access to the social media accounts of current or prospective employees. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against any such individual who either refuses to provide such access or who complains about what he or she believes to be a violation of the law.

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New Amendment to New York Labor Law Includes Underage Models as Protected Class

On October 21, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed amendments to the New York Labor Law, Art. 4-A, §§ 150-154, the laws governing employment of child performers. The new law went into effect on November 20, 2013. The amendments expand coverage of the law to include runway and print models under the age of 18, a significant feat since these youngsters previously were not afforded the same protections as young entertainers such as child actors.

As a result of the new law, employers of child models (as well as their parents or guardians) will have additional responsibilities and obligations. Some of the most notable include:

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New York Court Rules Against Starbucks’ Employees in A Suit about Tips

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 Court, 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.

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