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Shulman Kessler LLP Blog

Two new laws may help correct New York’s wage gaps

The idea of equal pay for equal work sounds simple enough, but the reality has always been something else. There have long been glaring wage gaps between workers of different genders and different races. Fortunately, two new laws may soon push the state toward greater equality.

The state’s lawmakers recently took aim at two different wage concerns. One law bans employers across the state from asking about potential employees’ salary histories. The second law bans employers from paying people different wages based on an expanded number of protected classes, and this second law has now gone into effect.

What can we learn from Google employees' recent actions?

We’ve all come to know Google, the ubiquitous search engine and tech giant that came to the forefront in the late 1990s. Google profiles many stores[SS1]  across the globe, attracting users to stories affecting individuals in all walks of life. However, the tech giant has been at the forefront of its own internal news buzz in recent days.

How New York's GENDA law affects employment

Earlier this year, the New York State Senate passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). The act prohibits employers from discriminating, harassing, or retaliating against employees or job applicants on the basis of gender identity or expression. This is defined as:

"A person's actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including, but not limited to, the status of being transgender."

As the cultural climate shifts, people are becoming more accepting of gender non-conforming people. However, there are those out there who don't understand and will attempt to discriminate against them. If you are gender non-conforming, you have likely experienced some sort prejudice or discrimination before.

Recourse options for injured New York construction workers

A man lost his life in the recent collapse of a building under construction in the Bronx and two more were seriously injured. It was a grim reminder that the construction industry has recently become New York City's deadliest profession. But why?

According to The New York Times, the worker who died was nonunion. The Times indicates that nonunion workers make up 92% of all construction site fatalities in New York.

New York bans natural hair discrimination

New York recently became the second state to ban hair discrimination. On July 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that adds new protections to the state's Human Rights Law, as well as the Dignity for All Students Act.

The governor's press release explained why the law is important. Rules that focus on hairstyles have long marginalized people of color, especially women. And as Governor Cuomo said, the law marks "an important step toward [...] ensuring people of color are protected from all forms of discrimination."

Data shows CEOs increasingly being fired for sexual misconduct

The #MeToo movement has significantly raised awareness and public discussion about sexual harassment and assault in all areas of life - including the workplace. There have been similar periods of heightened awareness and discussion in the past, resulting in marginal changes. But one of the biggest differences about the #MeToo movement so far is that it has brought down some of the richest and most powerful men in the worlds of entertainment and business.

A recent news report from National Public Radio cites a study from auditing firm PwC. The study revealed that in 2018, personal misconduct was the leading cause of CEO firing at the highest-profile public companies. This is unprecedented, and seems to indicate that sexual harassment is finally being recognized and punished among the leadership of major companies.

Proposed changes to New York law may help combat discrimination

How many times does someone have to make wolf whistles or brush a part of your body in order for your workplace to be considered a "hostile environment"? The question has long plagued New Yorkers fed up with workplace discrimination but unsure whether they had a solid legal case.

Proposed revisions to the New York Human Rights Law may soon change the whole equation. According to the National Law Review, the new bill recently cleared the legislature. The governor is expected to sign it into law, and victims of workplace harassment should then find it much easier to seek justice.

DOL proposes increase to FLSA overtime income cap

About 1.1 million workers throughout New York and the rest of the country would qualify to receive overtime time pay if a new rule proposed by the Department of Labor is implemented. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay workers overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek, but the landmark 1938 law does not cover all employees. Managers, commissioned salespeople and workers who earn over a certain amount are not entitled to overtime under the FLSA.

The current income cap for non-management workers to qualify for overtime pay is $23,660. This figure was set in 2004. The rule proposed by the DOL would raise this cap to $35,308. An effort was made to raise the income cap to $47,476 during the Obama administration, but a federal judge blocked the change just days before it was scheduled to go into effect. Had it not been blocked, the Obama-era change would have extended overtime coverage to about 4.2 million workers.

After the #MeToo movement, retaliation claims are on the rise

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, thousands of women found the courage and strength to call out the sexual harassment they faced at work. Many of the highest profile stories made the frontpage news, and they toppled some powerful offenders. But what about all the other women who stepped forward with their complaints. Their stories largely followed a different trajectory. After they reported their harassment, they frequently found themselves demoted or fired, or if they stayed at work, they might have been ostracized or reassigned to less desirable projects, even if the reassignment did not strictly mean a demotion. They have suffered retaliation.

Understanding New York City's new hair discrimination guidelines

Employee discrimination can come in multiple forms that the general populace isn't aware about for a long time. More employers get away with their unfair business practices the longer the public doesn't know about the issue at hand. These are why lawsuits and newer laws are important as they can influence an employer's actions and make more people realize how fair workplaces should operate.

Earlier this month, the NYC Commission on Human Rights announced that the city had new guidelines regarding hair discrimination. These new regulations allow for more freedom in the workplace for employees to express themselves with their hairstyles without potentially losing their job in the process.

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