Recently, American fashion designers and former child actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have moved to settle a lawsuit brought by a former intern. In September 2015, Shahista Lalani filed suit against the the sisters, known collectively as the Olsen twins, in New York Supreme Court, alleging that she worked 50-hour weeks without pay or college credit. Ms. Lalani filed a “proposed class action to join other unpaid interns” who had worked for the Olsen twins. She requested the court grant damages, minimum wage, and overtime. In 2012, Ms. Lalani worked for the clothing line “The Row,” a high-end fashion line owned by the Olsen twins.
On January 11, 2017, a proposed class action discrimination lawsuit was filed against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in Detroit, Michigan by the company’s former diversity manager Marlin G. Williams. In her discrimination suit, Ms. Williams alleges that FCA’s employee evaluation process impedes the success of African-American employees at a disproportionate rate. This lawsuit has the potential to affect many African-American managers who are subject to an evaluation process. Class-action status is the designation that can be approved by a federal judge if a plaintiff can prove numerous employees were also harmed in the same manner.
Employers can face serious legal consequences when they retaliate against whistleblowers. A whistleblower is an employee who voices a complaint about a company’s misconduct, such as filing complaints about safety and health code violations, shareholder fraud, mismanagement of fiances or other illegal activity. Additionally, employees who make initial complaints, those that follow up on those concerns or give information to investigators are also considered whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected against retaliation by their employers and companies under both federal and state laws.
Governor Cuomo will propose new legislation to tackle the issue of wage theft in New York. The legislation will ensure that employers cannot hide from paying hard working employees for the time they spend “on the clock.” Currently under the law, New York State is able to hold top officials from in-state Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), as well as those from corporations within and outside New York personally liable for unpaid wages to their employees.
Every year thousands of employees download and view pornography in the workplace. Pornography companies claim that as much as 60 million free porn sites are accessed from office buildings each day. According to a survey conducted by the Berman Group in 2014, as many as 63 percent of adult men and 36 percent of adult women have looked at pornography at least one time while at work in the past 3 months. In a 2003 study conducted by Business and Legal Reports, as many as two-thirds of human resources professionals have discovered pornography on employee computers.
On December 21st the Cuomo Administration implemented a new regulation prohibiting insurance companies from refusing coverage for crime-related losses caused by employees. Effective January 1, 2017, the regulation allows businesses to obtain commercial crime coverage after sustaining losses in a situation involving an employee’s dishonesty.
Chobani, the yogurt manufacturer, recently told its 2,000 full-time employees at its plant in New Berlin, New York that they will each receive a share of company ownership up to 10% of the company’s value. Hamdi Ulukaya, the company’s owner, said he would be giving them shares when Chobani goes public or is sold.
In November 2014, employees of Alice’s Tea Cup LLC, a Manhattan café chain alleged that during their employment, they were not paid overtime for days when they worked more than 10 hours. Alice’s Tea Cup has three locations in New York City.
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.
As of December 1, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will begin enforcing the injury and illness record-keeping rule. Under the record-keeping rule, companies with more than 250 employees in covered industries will be required to submit annual injury and illness forms electronically.