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Long Island Employment Law Blog

Trump Administration proposes change in tip regulations

People who work in restaurants in New York and across the country may be interested in learning about the potential change to the distribution of earned tips proposed by the Trump Administration. According to sources, the Department of Labor plans to allow restaurant owners and managers to collect tips earned by servers and redistribute them among staff as they see fit.

According to the proposal, the changes in regulations would allow restaurant owners to redistribute tips to those working in the back of house positions, such as cooks and dishwashers. This is intended to reduce the wage gap between front-of-house staff and back-of house staff.

The minimum wage is increasing again. Are you getting paid enough?

New York enacted a law that requires the minimum wage to increase every year until it reaches $15 an hour. The increase is triggered at the end of the calendar year.

With the annual increases, it is important to stay on top of your pay every year and make sure your employer is being held accountable to the requirement. In Long Island, the minimum wage will increase from $10 an hour to $11 an hour on December 31. The minimum wage is schedule to increase by $1 an hour until 2021, when it reaches $15.

Transgender woman awarded over $1 million in discrimination case

Long Island readers may hope that they never experience workplace gender discrimination. However, a lawsuit is sometimes necessary to ensure that a worker's rights are protected. For example, a transgender woman has recently been awarded $1.1 million after being denied promotion and tenure at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. The historic decision was handed down on Nov. 20.

According to court documents, the plaintiff was hired as a tenure-track assistant English professor in 2004 when she still presented as a male. In 2007, she began transitioning into a woman and told the university that she would attend work as a woman for the 2007-2008 school year. Shortly afterward, she was notified by the human resources department that a university vice president had said her transition countered his religious beliefs. The vice president's sister also told her that her brother took "grave" offense to her gender identity and advised her to take safety precautions.

Discrimination and anti-union claims pile up against Tesla

The technological innovations of Tesla Inc. might intrigue car buyers in New York, but the automaker's employees have been the source of multiple lawsuits. Three lawsuits originating from black workers accuse the company of racism. The newest lawsuit representing a man formerly employed at a West Coast factory is seeking class-action status. His court filings describe a workplace where supervisors and co-workers routinely used the N-word. The company allegedly ignored his formal written complaint about the racial slurs and then later fired the employee.

Additional legal actions have emerged on behalf of employees who said that they suffered discrimination because of age or sexual orientation. A unionization campaign mounted by the United Auto Workers has been another source of contention between employees and the automaker.

Walmart faces legal action from female employees

New York residents may have heard stories about pay discrepancies between male and female workers. On Nov. 6, Female Walmart employees filed a lawsuit in a Florida federal court claiming that gender discrimination exists within the company's pay and promotion policies. The suit seeks back pay in addition to other financial damages. Furthermore, it seeks class action status, which may allow thousands of other workers to become part of this legal action.

This is the second attempt to file a class action claim against the company. In 2001, a case involving a Walmart greeter was initially certified as a class action suit representing 1.6 million female workers. However, the decision was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia pointed out that official company policy banned discrimination and that managers acted on their own. The court also ruled that the cases were not similar enough to each other to gain such status.

EEOC applies sex discrimination law to help transgender workers

Transgender people working in New York might face challenges at work because of their gender identity choices. A growing body of legal cases supported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has steered interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 toward protecting transgender people under the existing law against sex discrimination.

The EEOC defended a transgender woman from discrimination when applying for a job in April 2012. The commission applied the Title VII sex discrimination law to the situation. This action built upon an earlier case from 1989 that went before the Supreme Court of the United States. A majority of the justices affirmed that Title VII prohibitions included mistreatment inspired by sex stereotypes. Because sex stereotypes arise from cultural and social beliefs, the EEOC translated sex stereotypes into discrimination based on perceived social violations of gender roles. Discrimination aimed at someone because of a gender identity choice can represent an illegal action.

When jealousy at work becomes discrimination

Jealousy can be a powerful emotion that can cause problems for New York residents in their social, personal and professional lives. One employee claimed that she was terminated from her position at a forklift dealer because the male president's wife didn't want him working with females. It should be noted that the wife was on the company payroll and took part in meetings with employees. The woman further alleged that she was treated differently than male employees.

For instance, the president of the company wouldn't make eye contact with her or allow her to take part in important meetings. The lawsuit claims that she was told that her termination was in spite of her being an excellent employee. It also claims that the president told her that the termination was because his wife didn't want him working with women. Although the woman was rehired, she was again terminated after being subject to similar behaviors in the workplace.

Workers prevail in pay-docking lawsuit for short breaks

New Yorkers are protected under state and federal laws while they are working. Among these laws is a provision that they must be paid for all breaks that last 20 minutes or less. In a recent case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, an employer was found to have violated the law by docking workers who took bathroom breaks lasting longer than 90 seconds.

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides that breaks lasting 20 minutes or less are compensable time. This means that employers must pay their workers for these short breaks. In the case, Progressive Business Systems only paid their sales representatives for the time that they were actually logged into their computers. If they were gone for longer than 90 seconds, their pay would be docked.

EEOC files 86 lawsuits in September

The fiscal year for the 2017 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has come to an end, and 86 lawsuits were filed in September in advance of that deadline. The EEOC most commonly filed claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with 47 of the lawsuits, and the Americans With Disabilities Act with 36 claims. This and other statutes protect many Long Island workers.

There were 33 claims associated with discrimination on the basis of sex, 19 retaliation-related claims and eight claims regarding race discrimination. There were five claims each of discrimination on the grounds of religion and age and three claims of discrimination because of national origin. Regarding the disability claims, the EEOC was particularly looking for cases in which employees were not given reasonable accommodations for a temporary disability. The agency has a strategic enforcement plan that intends to focus on qualification standards and leave policies that discriminate against people with disabilities. Preventing workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, is also a top priority. Other examples of discrimination were medical inquiries that can affect disabled workers and slurs based on a person's race.

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.

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