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Long Island Employment Law Blog

Plaza Hotel faces sexual harassment lawsuit

The Plaza Hotel is being sued by six female workers, some of whom no longer work at the famous New York City establishment. The plaintiffs stated in their lawsuit that they suffered harassment from male coworkers as well as senior management.

One employee who endured harassment said that the unwanted sexual conduct started days after she began working at the hotel. She explained that leaving the job is not an option for her as she has a child to raise. Another employee who dealt with the same working conditions said that even though she reported the behavior to management, nothing was done to investigate or mitigate the alleged behavior.

How the ADEA protects against age discrimination

Most workers aged 40 and over in New York and throughout the country are protected against age discrimination by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The ADEA applies to federal, state and local governments, labor organizations, employment agencies and private employers that have at least 20 employees. It does not just protect against workplace harassment on the basis of age but also protects against demotion or termination.

Age discrimination is a serious problem. The AARP says that two-thirds of workers between 45 and 74 years old said they had witnessed age discrimination at work or experienced it themselves. After the recession of 2008-2009, workers who were at least 55 spent more than 40 weeks looking for a job on average. In comparison, younger workers were out of a job for an average of less than 32 weeks.

Ruling regarding causation for FMLA retaliation claims

Workers in New York who have pending claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act should be aware of the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The court ruled that in order to have retaliation claims under the FMLA proceed, employees only have to verify that exercising their FMLA rights was viewed negatively by an employer who also responded with an employment-related act of retaliation. The significance of the ruling is that the reduced burden of proof may result in a higher number of FMLA retaliation claims surviving the summary judgment phase of cases in the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit, which hears federal appellate cases in Vermont, Connecticut and New York.

The case at the center of the decision involved a plaintiff who had worked as a substance abuse counselor at a nonprofit drug treatment center. As an employee, she had a record of substandard job performance in addition to a history of using FMLA leave to receive treatment for anemia. When she was terminated by the company for poor performance, she filed a lawsuit claiming that her termination was retribution for her use of FMLA medical leave.

Tesla accused of sexual harassment

Tesla has a long-standing problem with workplace sexual harassment, according to media reports. The revelation comes as the automaker prepares to release its much-anticipated Model 3 electric car in New York and across the United States.

It has been reported that women have faced workplace sexual discrimination in Tesla's factories and corporate offices for years, but management has done nothing to address the problem. Apparently, several female Tesla employees shared their experiences of on-the-job sexual discrimination during a March 8 town hall meeting. The women alleged that male supervisors had subjected them to unwanted sexual comments, sexist attitudes and discriminatory hiring practices during their time at the automaker.

Rules related to working off the clock

As a general rule, most New York employees cannot be asked to work "off the clock".Furthermore, workers generally cannot be asked to work without being paid or to work hours that do not count toward overtime pay. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt workers who put in more than 40 hours a week must be paid at 150 percent of their normal wages for those hours.

Employees may be entitled to be paid whether the work was required or merely allowed. In legal terms, work that employers allow their workers to do extra work is referred to as suffering. For instance, an employee may be allowed to stay late to help other group members on a big project outside of normal work hours. Employees may also be entitled to compensation for time spent preparing a restaurant kitchen before it opens or returning equipment after a job has been completed.

Wage discrimination affects a broad range of workers

New York residents may be interested in some statistics on wage discrimination. Though the issue of equal pay is usually seen as a women's issue, wage discrimination cases alleging discrimination because of a person's gender are filed by both women and men.

A look at data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shows that about 15 percent of gender-based wage discrimination claims over the past four fiscal years were filed by males. Most wage discrimination claims are filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but some gender-based wage cases are filed under the Equal Pay Act. In addition to gender-based claims, many wage d claims allege discrimination based on other factors including age, race, religion, nationality and disability.

Age discrimination top concern among people looking for jobs

Older New York residents have their work cut out for them when they seek employment. A survey of job seekers conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons identified age discrimination as their top concern by a wide margin. According to survey results, 51 percent of respondents 50 years of age and older expressed worry about age limiting their ability to land a job. Unemployment came in second but not close at 25 percent.

Over the last 15 years, multiple studies have confirmed the presence of age discrimination. Over 60 percent of employees at or over age 50 admit to witnessing or experiencing employment discrimination based on age. The president of a recruiting company said that companies want older workers to retire so that they can hire younger workers. Companies consider older workers expensive and overqualified. The pool of 89 million young people from the Millennial generation creates substantial competition for older employees.

Similarly situated employees in a discrimination lawsuit

Race-based workplace discrimination is generally illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it occurs far too often in New York and around the country. For affected employees who choose to file a lawsuit, it may be appropriate to include a similarly situated employee when establishing a pattern of discrimination.

A similarly situated employee is a fellow worker who can be reasonably compared with the plaintiff. If the court were to accept the identification of a similarly situated employee in a race discrimination case, then the worker would need to meet some criteria. First, the plaintiff and the similarly situated employee should work under the same supervisor. Second, the two should share similar duties in the workplace. Third, evaluations and disciplinary history for the two employees should be similar. Finally, the two workers should have about the same amount of experience.

Federal appeals court rules that ADEA covers state agencies

Private sector employers in New York and around the country with 20 or more workers must follow the provisions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. However, courts have disagreed on whether or not the 20-employee threshold should apply to state agencies like police and fire departments. A federal appeals court ruled on June 19 that the 1967 law covered public employers regardless of the size of their payrolls. An attorney representing the Arizona fire department involved said that the Supreme Court will likely be called upon to resolve the matter.

According to the ruling, the language of the ADEA makes clear that the 20-worker requirement, which was part of a 1974 amendment to the law, only applies to employers in the private sector. However, federal appeals court judges in four other cases came to a different conclusion. These judges read the same language and ruled that public sector employers with fewer than 20 workers were not covered by the 1967 law.

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