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Serrins & Associates LLC Employment Law Blog

Monday, January 30, 2017

So You Think Your Boss Is Breaking the Law – An Introduction to Employment Law

Welcome to the Serrins & Associates blog and website! On this blog, we’ll be bringing you continuous updates on current issues, events, rulings, and laws in the area of employment law. We’ll also be answering frequent questions employees have about litigating against their employer, or choosing whether to bring a case at all. In this post, we’ll provide an overview of some common types of employment law cases. If your employer has been engaging in any of the behaviors listed below, it would be wise to speak with an employment lawyer.

Sexual HarassmentMost people understand that sexual harassment is generally illegal. In New York, and under federal law, it is considered a form of gender discrimination, regardless of whether the targeted employee is male or female. The New York law governing such conduct is known as the New York Human Rights Law – this is an important statute, and bans many different forms of discrimination. Sexual harassment comes in two forms under the law. In the so-called “quid pro quo” cases, an employee is essentially told to comply with sexual demands or requests or face negative consequences. In hostile workplace cases, an employee is subject to a repeated barrage of sex-based comments and/or behaviors by coworkers or supervisors. Both of these situations can result in a lawsuit against an employer finding them liable and awarding damages or other relief to an affected employee.

Discrimination – Workplace discrimination takes many forms. It is illegal under both federal and state law to discriminate in the workplace based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, age, or national origin. Under New York State and City law, it is also illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another body of law addresses discrimination based on disability, handicap, and pregnancy. “Discrimination” is a broad term. It can mean anything from refusing to hire workers because they belong to a certain category of people, to hiring them but treating them differently than other employees. Discrimination in the workplace is subtle, far too common, and illegal.

Wage and Hour Laws – Wage theft is an issue that has been rising in the public awareness for several years now, and has resulted in some high profile legal victories awarding money to victimized workers. Like discrimination, wage theft can mean a lot of different things. Unlike discrimination, many employees may not even realize they are being taken advantage of until they talk to a lawyer. To take one example: if you’re an employee who makes most of their money from tips, your boss is absolutely barred from dipping into that tip collection. It is illegal for him to do so. If you wear a uniform at work, the time it takes to put on that uniform and prepare for work is time you must be paid for. Wage and hour laws are a patchwork of federal, state, and city-based regulation. Set up a consultation with an attorney if you think you and your coworkers are being taken advantage of.

We’re only just scratching the surface in this post. Employment law is a big area, and learning its ins and outs – well, that’s why we have law school. But check back to this space! We’ll be keeping you up to date on trends in worker’s rights, and we’ll make our best efforts to keep employment law understandable and relatable to non-lawyers. And of course, if you think you may be a victim of an employer, boss, or company in New York, call our offices and set up a consultation.





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