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Long Island Employment Law Blog

What qualifies as a hostile work environment?

What is the actual difference between having a lousy job and working in a “hostile work environment”?

The meaning of hostile work environment is vague, but it comes from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made different kinds of discrimination illegal.

Using pattern evidence to prove discrimination

Unfortunately, many New York workers face discrimination at their jobs. There are multiple state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on race, national origin, color, sex, pregnancy, disability and religion. Proving discrimination may be difficult, but people might be able to use evidence of their employers' treatment of others to help prove that the actions against them were unlawful.

Some cases will involve direct evidence of discrimination, but they are rare. Most employers will not make overtly discriminatory statements. Instead, most workers will need to rely on circumstantial evidence, and the employers' past treatment of other workers may be relevant.

Former Oracle employees seek damages from company

New York residents may heard stories about gender discrimination against female employees in the tech sector. In a lawsuit filed on Aug. 28, three former Oracle employees claimed that the company paid women less than men for performing similar duties. The suit claims that the company either knew or should have known about the pay disparity after a January 2017 lawsuit against Oracle brought by the Department of Justice.

As a result of the legal action taken by the DOJ, the former employees claim in their own suit that Oracle was required to keep certain pay records. Specifically, it was required to keep records related to wages, wage rates and job titles of all employees in California. This is the state in which the former employees are filing their lawsuit. They are asking for back pay plus interest in addition to other financial damages and a guarantee to pay workers equally in the future for doing similar work.

Ex-Google employees file pay discrimination claim

New York employees who work at startups or businesses that focus on information and technology may be interested to learn that three female ex-employees filed a lawsuit on Sept. 14 against Google alleging that it engaged in gender-based wage discrimination. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for lost wages and a portion of Google's profits.

The three plaintiffs reportedly left the company after the career trajectories they were put on would have resulted in lower compensation than their male coworkers. As such, the plaintiffs claimed in the lawsuit that the company segregated female employees into jobs that did not offer the same promotion or advancement opportunities that male employees were given. The lawsuit was filed shortly after the company fired a male employee for releasing an internal memo that enforced certain gender stereotypes that were considered to be harmful.

Are GrubHub’s drivers employees or contractors?

You may choose to drive for a delivery service like GrubHub, Postmates or DoorDash to earn a little extra cash on top of a regular job. Or, like many drivers, driving for one of these companies may be how you make the bulk of your income.

If you depend on a single company for a large part of your income, it matters whether you are classified as an employee or contractor: as an employee, you are eligible for overtime pay, benefits and other protections that contractors are not eligible for.

Discrimination in job interviews continues

One might think that racial discrimination in the workplace has improved over the last 25 years, but research shows this is not the case. African American and Latino job seekers in New York face significant challenges just trying to score an interview. Then they are blamed for lack of effort.

According to a meta-study conducted by several top universities, African American job seekers were 36 percent less likely to be called back by employers compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Latinos were 24 percent less likely. The study controlled for important variables like education level, gender, job market and occupation. The results show that discrimination has not decreased at the point of hire as most people assume.

Understanding employee rights under SOX

New York employees of publicly-traded companies may have heard about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's whistleblower-protection provision. It states that companies cannot take actions that could discourage them from acting as whistleblowers in the future. Prohibited actions include demoting, suspending or terminating those who engage in this protected workplace activity. Companies also may not harass or otherwise discriminate against those who make legitimate complaints against them.

Employees should know that they are protected against having their identities revealed as someone who has acted as a whistleblower. Such an action may result in harassment or alienation from colleagues. This was the conclusion of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in a case involving a former accounting director at Halliburton. After noticing potential accounting irregularities, he tried to address his concerns with the company. When those concerns were not taken into consideration, he filed a confidential disclosure with the SEC.

Justin Bieber's medical records subject of lawsuit

New York residents may be interested in a legal case that started when pop star Justin Bieber got injured playing soccer. A Long Island emergency room staffer is filing a wrongful termination and gender discrimination lawsuit after she was accused of illegally accessing Bieber's medical records when he visited the hospital for what he believed was an injured testicle.

Bieber went to Northwell Health in Long Island on May 18, 2017, and he was admitted for testicular injuries that he suffered while playing soccer. According to the plaintiff's attorney, she had heard a rumor that Bieber had been admitted for a sexually transmitted disease. She says she did not believe that rumor and she did not access his medical records or have any contact with Bieber.

Wrongful termination in New York

Employees who report hazardous working conditions and employer wrongdoing possess a wide range of legal protections from retaliation. OSHA has released a new revision of the online whistleblower complaint form to help ensure that complaints are filed with the appropriate federal agency so that all concerns can be addressed promptly.

Employers are responsible for providing a healthy and safe environment for the employees who work for them. This was mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA's authority complements this legislation and is supported by 22 statutes. These whistleblower provisions include laws pertaining to every sector of the economy and regulating securities, workplace safety and consumer protection. Workers are protected from workplace retaliation by federal law against "adverse actions" as defined by federal statutes. These are designed to allow workers to raise safety concerns and report injuries without fear of consequences that could affect their job.

Estee Lauder sued over unequal parenting leave for dads

For years, many companies have been offering mothers paid maternity time to convalesce after having a baby. More recently, companies have been offering time off to fathers as well.

Cosmetics giant Estee Lauder is in trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which has filed suit against the company, alleging that their parental leave policy discriminates against men.

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