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New York Employment Law & Personal Injury Blog

What can you do to avoid a dog bite?

This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which is held each year to educate people about how to prevent dog bites. There are approximately 70 million dogs living in American households and, unfortunately, any one of them can bite under the right circumstances. Whether you own a dog, see dogs every day, or only encounter them on occasion, you have a role to play in preventing the serious and traumatic injuries dog bites can cause.

While many of us have probably experienced a painful nip, dog bites can be much more serious than that. Last year, dog-related injuries made up over a third of all homeowners insurance claims, based on amount, and those claims totaled almost $700 million. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost 29,000 reconstructive procedures were performed on dog bite injuries in 2016.

Minority workers still facing discrimination in STEM fields

There are over 17 million workers employed in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations, with jobs quadrupling since 1990. STEM jobs offer higher pay, about two thirds more than non-STEM jobs. The racial and gender earning gaps are narrower in STEM occupations.

Historically white and Asian males dominate STEM occupations. Underrepresented demographics included blacks, Hispanics and women. In addition to underrepresentation, minority workers consistently report gender and race discrimination in STEM fields.

AP finds African-Americans still excluded from high-wage jobs

It has been 50 years since the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and longer still since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 promised to end to workplace discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion or sex. While it is certain that the situation has improved for many people of color in America, we still have a long way to go.

How long a way? Consider what the Associated Press found after analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Community Survey, a federal government survey. The data showed that a white worker has a much greater chance than an African-American worker to have a job in one of the 11 highest-paying fields as identified by the BLS.

Self-driving vehicle technology is coming to many new cars

Although fully autonomous vehicles may still be some time away, a number of automakers are beginning to integrate similar technology into ordinary cars, trucks and SUVs. Since federal data indicates that some 94 percent of motor vehicle wrecks are caused by human error, these technologies hold great promise.

It's important to realize that these new technologies are not meant to replace drivers but to assist them. A self-driving Uber vehicle recently struck and killed a pedestrian, so even technology thought to be road-ready may have weaknesses. That said, here are a few items you will find soon in high-end vehicles -- and hopefully soon enough in mainstream cars and trucks:

Of 118 sex discrimination complaints, Microsoft found 1 credible

Thanks to a potential class action lawsuit against Microsoft, information has been released about how many gender discrimination and sexual harassment complaints the company received, along with how it handled those complaints. Between 2010 and 2016, women working technical jobs at Microsoft in the U.S. filed 238 internal complaints about sex discrimination or sexual harassment. Of those, 118 were for sex discrimination.

Microsoft deemed only one sex discrimination complaint to be founded, despite the company's reputation for sexism. It is unclear how many sexual harassment complaints were believed.

Researchers: Motorcycle helmets may reduce risk of neck injury

Could a motorcycle helmet protect your cervical spine -- your neck -- in the event of a traffic crash? Some people have argued that helmets have no effect on such injuries, while others have argued that the extra weight of the helmet could even increase the risk.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, medical researchers decided to find out if there was a statistically significant difference between cervical spine injuries in people who did and did not wear helmets while motorcycling. They learned that helmet use does appear to reduce the number of cervical spine injuries.

Appeals courts rule Title VII protects gay, transgendered workers

Two federal appellate courts have recently ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgendered status. They reasoned that the law's prohibition against discrimination "because of sex." Past rulings have found that gender discrimination includes situations in which a person fails to conform to gender stereotypes.

In the first case, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in favor of the estate of a former Long Island skydiving instructor. The now-deceased plaintiff was fired after he told a customer he was gay and his employer received a complaint.

Targeting sexual harassment in New York City

Sexual harassment has become a hot-button topic all around the country, and New York is no exception. Numerous victims have come forward in every field from entertainment to business to politics to share their experiences of workplace harassment. To address the issue, several state and city leaders have proposed new legislation that would prevent, target and punish sexual harassment.

New laws against sexual harassment?

US Tennis Association held responsible for player's slip and fall

In 2014, Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard was ranked No. 5 in the world. In 2015, she suffered a head injury in a slip-and-fall accident in a locker room. She says she isn't the same player she was before that fall. She is currently ranked No. 116 worldwide.

The cause of that slip-and-fall accident was before a jury recently. Bouchard claims that the floor in a physiotherapy room at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens was wet with cleaning fluid. This was, she claims, due to the negligence of the United States Tennis Association, which owns the facility, or its staff. Under the law of premises liability, property owners and managers can be held liable if they fail to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition.

DOL considering changing rules for distribution of pooled tips

The U.S. Department of Labor is considering an important rule change. It is mostly geared toward expanding the group of people who could participate in tip-sharing pools, but it could have a surprising secondary effect. If passed as currently written, it would allow employers to simply keep all tips received.

Under a 2011 Fair Labor Standards Act rule, businesses like hotels and restaurants can create tip pools. When tips are pooled and redistributed to the employees who received them, each employee gets an average of all the tips brought in that shift. This ensures that the tips are distributed more or less equally among all the tipped workers.

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