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Long Island Employment Law Blog

DOL releases opinion letters dealing with wages

Some employees in Long Island might be affected by opinion letters issued by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. The letters, released on April 12, deal with Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The letter dealing with the CCPA addresses the question of what constitutes "earnings" and therefore what can be garnished. The letter concluded that any payments exchanged for an employee's services are earnings. However, certain payments, including certain damages and reimbursement for medical expenses as part of workers' compensation, are not included.

Employers should pay attention to Second Circuit ruling

New York employers may believe that a worker is exempt from overtime pay if he or she is given a management title. However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a man who worked as a building manager could be entitled to such pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The man claimed that 90 percent of his duties while working for Total Management Solutions involved cleaning outside of his role as building manager.

While a district court found this claim to lack merit, the 2nd Circuit disagreed with that court's findings. It relied on testimony from the man, who claimed that TMS did not give him the authority to hire or fire workers. He also claimed to lack authority to promote workers or discipline them. While the 2nd Circuit never said that the man proved his claim, it did say that there was enough evidence to hear the case.

Do female restaurant workers face age discrimination?

You have worked in the same restaurant for years. Even though you are a reliable employee, you have started to notice that your supervisors are treating you negatively. They make critical remarks about your age, they favor younger female employees over you and they are promoting workers who are less experienced than you are. You know that you are good at your job, and you have loyally supported the restaurant, even through hard times. So why are you being treated this way?

The problem may be age-based discrimination. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on their age, but this does not stop some employers from doing it. Women who have customer-facing jobs in the restaurant industry are particularly vulnerable to age discrimination.

Strategies that can help close the wage gap

Female workers in New York and throughout the country may be victims of the wage gap. Research has shown that this gap exists in almost all sectors of the economy, and both the domestic and global economies could be larger if it were eliminated. It is estimated that the American economy would grow by $512 billion according to data from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The global economy could grow by $12 trillion if everyone were paid equally for equal work.

On average, a women has to work 15 months to earn what a man earns working for 12 months. This is because a typical female worker makes 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by a male. However, black and Latina workers make only 63 and 54 cents for each dollar a man makes. If paid equally, it could make it easier for female employees to pay bills, save for retirement and be a larger part of a community's tax base.

Report alleges years of age discrimination at IBM

For some older employees in Long Island, age discrimination on the job might take the form of being forced into early retirement or given work conditions that make the job unacceptable. According to a report by the organization ProPublica and the magazine Mother Jones, IBM used these types of tactics to reduce the number of older workers in its ranks.

One person was told that she had to relocate or she would lose her job, and reportedly, this requirement was one way the company pushed older employees out. Others told stories of being let go on the grounds that their skills were not up to date and then being rehired with fewer benefits and lower pay.

Former bartender sues New York restaurant for race discrimination

According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a former employee of Red Rooster, the fine-dining location in Harlem discriminated against black men. The plaintiff began employment as a porter in 2014 and earned a promotion to bartender in 2016. He said that he usually represented the only member of his race among the ranks of bartenders at the restaurant where he believes that management wanted to avoid placing black people in that position.

The man further alleges that his lawful request to take a leave to care for his ailing mother prompted his dismissal. He had gained approval to take two months off for family leave, but then the company fired him two days after granting the leave. A statement from the company attributed his dismissal to repeated warnings about the way he poured drinks.

Rideshare drivers seek minimum wage guarantee

In the latest battle for fair pay by New York ridesharing drivers, Uber and Lyft employees are seeking oversight from the city to ensure that drivers receive at least minimum wage for their work. The Independent Drivers Guild represents over 60,000 drivers in the city. Originally organized with Uber's support, the organization has since come into conflict with the company on multiple occasions.

The drivers are calling on the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission to enforce wage and hour laws for rideshare drivers. They delivered a petition containing over 15,000 signatures seeking the agency to bring the rules for these drivers under its authority, guaranteeing them the right to minimum wage. The drivers noted that in New York City, 90 percent of drivers for these services provide the main source of income for their households, and many of them make less than minimum wage after expenses are taken into account. The minimum wage in New York City for businesses with 10 or more workers is $13 an hour.

Jury finds in favor of plaintiffs in age discrimination lawsuit

People in New York who fly United Airlines might be interested to learn that the airline has been successfully sued for age discrimination. The flight attendants, who are now 59 and 66, were terminated five years ago. At the time, they had a total of 70 years of experience with the airline. In 2015, they filed an age discrimination lawsuit against United in Denver.

On March 5, a jury awarded $800,000 to the two. United will also be required to pay all legal fees, so the total cost to the airline will be around $1.5 million.

Possible wage change for tipped employees on the horizon

New York State is considering a wage change for tipped workers. The change would prohibit employers from paying tipped workers less than the minimum wage. If New York adopts the wage change it would be the eighth state to do so, joining Minnesota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California and Hawaii. Tipped workers in these states earn more money and are less likely to live below the poverty line.

Less than minimum wage

Gender discrimination may be higher in male-dominated jobs

Women in Long Island whose workplaces are male-dominated might be more likely to experience gender discrimination or sexual harassment than women in workplaces with an equal ratio of men and women or workplaces that are female-dominated. A 2017 study by Pew Research found that this was the case throughout the country.

Nearly half of women in the survey reported working at jobs that had more female than male employees. Around one-third said their workplaces were mostly evenly split in gender, and 18 percent said there were more men in their workplaces. Around half of the women in the male-majority workplaces said sexual harassment was a problem while only one-third of the women in the female-majority workplaces found this to be the case.

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