There has been a lot of talk in our area lately about “ban the box,” or not allowing employers to ask applicants at the initial application stage whether or not they have been convicted of a crime. In fact, municipalities across the country are passing ban the box laws. The idea behind ban the box is to allow potential employers to get to know an applicant first, and decide whether they are employee material before asking about their criminal conviction status.
Courts in employment cases across the country have disagreed on whether single incidents, or even a single word, can constitute an actionable hostile work environment related to a protected category (age, race, sex etc.) under Title VII, the federal anti-discrimination law, or it's state counterpart. In New York State, a Court recently ruled that a single forcible kiss was indeed enough to create a hostile work environment based on sex/sexual harassment.
A group of student football players asked the National Labor Relations Board to rule that Northwestern University football players are actually “employees” of the University, therefore allowing them to unionize. In February, the Board’s Regional Director heard five days of testimony, and decided that the players were considered employees.
Every day we get calls from clients who have questions about a wide variety of employment law issues. Each subject included in this blog outline is an area of frequent concern for our clients. Perhaps you have questions or concerns about these as well? If so, we would be happy to help you resolve your issues.
It’s no secret that Facebook can cause problems. Marital troubles, bullying, the list goes on and on. It also poses problems for employers when employees take to the Web and post information about their employment or co-workers. I could write a book on that topic alone.
On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Labor to overhaul the rules regarding overtime pay. Specifically, Obama has asked the Department to revisit the threshold amount of $455 per week. Rumor has it that the minimum salary for exempt workers will rise from $23,660 to nearly $50,000 per year. The rules will not require congressional action and will impact millions of workers.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has once again, as in 2011, proposed regulations to (1) reduce the time between a proposed union’s petition to form and the election on formation from approximately 31 days to approximately 10 days; (2) make the position statement rules stricter; and (3) require employers to disclose employee contact information to proposed unions.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that claims of religious discrimination are on the rise, more than double in fiscal 2013 than in fiscal 1997. The claims predominantly involve religious grooming and garb, and employers must reasonably accommodate those religious preferences of applicants and employees unless the employer can show undue hardship to the business. The EEOC recently issued guidance on these issues, noting that undue hardship must be “more than [a] de minimis” cost or burden to the business operation.
New York lawmakers are at it again, as the Women's Equality Agenda passed in the Assembly January 27, reviving a fight over abortion laws that derailed the law last year.
Many employers, understandably, have become so frustrated with the number of laws and regulations they must follow that they now assume they must grant every employee request. This tendency has been especially prevalent when discussing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its counterpart included within the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), as those statutes have indeed been interpreted to give employees broad rights, especially in terms of what is included as a disability under them. However, the most basic requirement of the ADA and NYSHRL is merely a procedural one: e