Everyone deserves to live free of discrimination. Unfortunately, discrimination is still rampant in society, especially in the workplace. This is even despite the state and federal laws that protect employees.
The technology giant Google announced on Feb. 21 that would no longer prevent its employees from joining together to file class-action lawsuits against the company over workplace issues. Google workers in New York and around the country will also no longer be required to litigate discrimination and wrongful termination disputes through arbitration. The move is the latest effort by the Mountain View-based company to relax restrictions that prompted widespread worker protests in November.
Workers in New York and around the country have an obligation to inform the proper authorities when they learn that their employers are engaging in dangerous, unethical or illegal activities. Whistleblowers in the workplace are protected from retaliation by laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the National Labor Relations Act, and employers can face severe penalties when they fire, harass or otherwise mistreat employees who step forward to report wrongdoing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Marijana represents employees in both individual and class actions involving wage-and-hour, discrimination , harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims. She is fluent in Spanish and Croatian.
New York residents who have been following AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV may be interested to learn that AT&T's former content president filed a wrongful discrimination lawsuit against the company. In the lawsuit, he claimed that he was fired so that a discrimination lawsuit that had been filed against him would not affect the $48.5 billion merger.
According to an announcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an Amtrak employee who was terminated after voicing concerns regarding railroad safety has been reinstated. He has also been financially compensated for $892,551. The man was allegedly let go for expressing concerns about fraud and abuse committed by a railroad contractor that had been previously convicted in a New York state court.