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Practice Areas

DISCRIMINATION

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)

This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. Title VII also prohibits the creation of a work environment, in which employees are subject to hostile or abusive treatment by their supervisors, or co-workers. In addition to Title VII, individuals may bring discrimination suits pursuant to New York State Human Rights Law, and New York City Human Rights Law.

 

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

This law amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

 

The Equal Pay Act of 1963

This law makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

 

The Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)

This law protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination because of age. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. In addition to the ADEA, individuals may bring age discrimination suits pursuant to New York State Human Rights Law, and New York City Human Rights Law.

 

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. In addition to the ADA, individuals may bring disability discrimination suits pursuant to New York State Human Rights Law, and New York City Human Rights Law.

 

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer. Individuals may bring sexual harassment suits pursuant to Title VII, New York State Human Rights Law, or New York City Human Rights Law.

 

LABOR LAW COMPLIANCE

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which prescribes standards for the basic minimum wage and overtime pay, affects most private and public employment. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay. The FLSA requires payment of no less than the federal minimum wage for each hour worked and time and one-half the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in the workweek for non-exempt workers.

 

New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA)

The WTPA was enacted by the New York State Legislature in April 2011, and applies to all employees in New York. The law requires employers to notify employees of their pay rate, pay days, overtime eligibility, and rate.  The WTPA provides for heavy fines against employers who violate the law, and prohibits retaliation against any employee who has filed or is believed to have filed a complaint for violations.

 

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (WARN Act)

The WARN Act is a labor law that protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide 60 days advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees.

Employees entitled to notice under the WARN Act include managers and supervisors, hourly wage, and salaried workers. If the employer fails to provide the required notice, employees may be able to seek damages for back pay and benefits for up to 60 days.

In August 2008, the New York State Legislature and Governor David Paterson enacted the NY WARN Act, which is modeled after the federal act. The law became effective on February 1, 2009, and requires most employers with 50 or more employees to provide 90 days advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees. If the employer fails to provide the required notice, employees may be able to seek damages for back pay and benefits.

 

The Occupational and Health and Safety Act of 1970 (OSHA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In general, the OSH Act covers all employers and their employees in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories. The Act assigns OSHA two regulatory functions: setting standards and conducting inspections to ensure that employers are providing safe and healthful workplaces. OSHA standards may require that employers adopt certain practices, means, methods, or processes reasonably necessary and appropriate to protect workers on the job. Employers must become familiar with the standards applicable to their establishments and eliminate hazards.

 

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.

ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information including important information about plan features and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.

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