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Manhattan Employment Law Blog

Are you employed in a hostile work environment?

Discrimination and harassment can make your work environment completely hostile. If you feel like your coworkers or supervisors at your New York job are harassing you based on your age, gender, race, sexual orientation or any other protected status, then you may be experiencing a disruption in your performance and well as in your overall career path.

Since your employer owes you a duty to provide a safe work environment, free from harassment and discrimination, you may be able to fight back by taking legal action. Read below for some signs that indicate your office might be a hostile work environment.

Deaths from motor vehicles increase for first time in a decade

For nearly a decade, it looked like the number of motor vehicle-related deaths in the United States was decreasing and would steadily continue. That isn't bearing out.

The fatalities resulting from serious car crashes have climbed to their highest numbers in some nine years. That means that in 2016, approximately 37,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents—a dramatic 5.6 percent increase from the year before. That's according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Knowing law's limits is important for employers and employees

New York state law requires employers to provide some compensation for employees during terms of short-term disability. Many might complain that the wage benefits called for under the law aren't much to write home about.

At the same time, federal law in the form of the Family Medical Leave Act could be considered even less generous. Eligibility is harder to achieve. The time an employee is allowed to take off is less and there is no wage benefit paid. One thing both state and federal laws assure is that employees making a short-term disability claim have protections against losing their jobs. But even that security isn't foolproof.

Calls for better construction safety come too late for 2 men

"This is an epidemic that must end now." That declaration comes from a leader in New York's construction trades after two workers plunged to their deaths at separate sites in Manhattan in recent days.

In one case, fire officials say a 36-year-old father of five fell 29 stories to the ground. They say he was part of a crew working to free a crane from the side of the high-rise structure. A relative of the man says he was wearing a safety harness but it wasn't attached to anything at the time.

How can I prevent misconduct and create a friendly workplace?

In one scenario of an ideal world, there would be no need for rules about behavior. Everyone would hold to what one Midwest radio personality we know of derisively calls the "Euphorian view" – a philosophy that pursues "mechanisms to alleviate the struggle to achieve."

An environment where everyone behaves properly is a laudable goal, but many would argue it isn't realistic. Therefore, we make rules, with some of them governing our work lives. In the workplace, employers and employees both have obligations, especially to curb discriminatory or harassing behavior. How can this be achieved?

What can cause an indoor slip-and-fall accident?

Even if you are familiar with the many conditions that can cause an indoor slip-and-fall accident, it's possible that you could suffer a serious injury when you least expect it.

It goes without saying that most property owners do whatever they can to keep their property safe, both inside and out. But even when they have the best intentions, it's possible that something could go wrong that leads to an accident.

What does the block on the overtime rule mean for business?

In the midst of the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey, and prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irma, a flicker of other news might have caught the eyes of employers and employees in New York City. A federal judge in Texas issued his final decision blocking implementation of a federal rule that would have raised overtime pay.

The proposed rule had been slated to take effect at the end of last year. It would have benefitted an estimated 4 million American workers by raising the salary bar for the so-called "white collar" exemption from overtime pay. With the order, the door is now open for the Trump administration to come up with a new rule. Many observers believe the salary bar will still increase, just not by as much as the Obama administration called for. What does this mean for New York employers and workers?

Automatic driving technology and older drivers: a brief look at two issues

Most of us have heard, read, or perhaps participated in, discussions about the incredible benefits increased driving automation could potentially bring in terms of highway safety. These benefits are largely due to the fact that a large number of automobile accidents are caused by driver error of some sort. Automobile automation could largely eliminate such accidents once it becomes mainstreamed.

A recent New York Times article highlights this issue as it relates to older drivers. As the author points out, increased automobile automation is now allowing more and more older drivers to get behind the wheel who would otherwise be unable to because of concerns about age-related driving performance. This raises a couple issues. 

Work with experienced legal counsel in pursuing retaliation claims

We’ve been looking in our last couple posts at the former Google engineer fired after publishing his memo criticizing the company’s diversity policy. In particular, we’ve been looking at the potential strength of a retaliation claim in his case, noting the differences in causation standards under federal and state law.

Under New York State Labor Law, it is illegal for employers to discharge, punish, discriminate against or retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity. This includes filing complaints about labor law violations with the employer or the Labor Department, providing information to the Labor Department, testifying in an investigation or proceeding under New York Labor Law, or exercising any rights under the law. 

Could former Google engineer have a valid retaliation claim? P.2

Previously, we noted about the case of former Google engineer James Damore that the strength of any retaliation claim he might make would likely depend on whether Google had knowledge of the complaint he made to the National Labor Relations Board prior to his termination, as well as the extent to which Google was motivated by the complaint in its decision to fire him.

Another issue, we noted, was whether Damore will choose to pursue a retaliation claim under the National Labor Relations Act or state labor law. The significance of that decision is that the causation standard can vary between state law and federal law.

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