Labor & Employment Blog



Currently, only 12% of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers.  In early December, two Democratic lawmakers, including New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, introduced legislation to create a national paid family and medical insurance leave program.


The recent controversy over the alleged "bullying" and use of the "n" word by one Miami Dolphin NFL football player towards another brings to mind two issues relevant to New York employers.


Since 2009, the hourly minimum wage rate in New York has been the same as the federal rate at $7.25 per hour.  Beginning on December 31, 2013, New York will join approximately 20 other states that have a minimum wage rate higher than the federal rate.  The three-step incremental increase to the minimum wage in New York will be implemented as follows:


For most employers, this is the time of year when annual performance reviews are underway.  Many supervisors are squeamish when it comes to putting the unvarnished truth in writing, but failure to be honest in a performance review is a significant disservice to both the employee and the organization.


There is an obvious benefit to allowing employees to use their own smart phones, tablets or other handheld devices for work purposes, but there are risks associated with allowing access to company information.  In today’s high tech world, employers absolutely must have a Hand Held Device Policy.  The policy should detail security measures the company will take to protect its data, occasions for monitoring and accessing an employee's device, and proper procedures that the employee agrees to take, in conjunction with the company, if the device is lost or stolen.


Chances are now better than ever that the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will soon become federal law.  Modeled closely after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, ENDA prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 


With the best of intentions, small businesses led by two people are often set up with each partner/member/owner having equal power, influence and ownership of the business.  Without appropriate planning and a carefully-crafted agreement, dispute resolution in that instance can be elusive and occasionally fatal.  We have seen many examples of this sad occurrence where the business fails or is sold at a fraction of its value, leaving no one happy.  Often the dispute itself irreparably damages the business’ value, and each party is unwilling to buy or sell the business at an acceptable price.


On October 10, 2013, New York State’s Court of Appeals reaffirmed that New York employers are not required to provide indefinite leave as an accommodation under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL).  In Romanello v. Intesa Sanpaolo, S.p.A., the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court order dismissing a disability discrimination claim under the NYSHRL by Giuseppe Romanello against his former employer, Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A.


On October 9, 2013, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) issued final regulations that govern employers’ implementation of the amendment to the New York Labor Law (NYLL), expanding an employer’s ability to make deductions from employee wages.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is in the midst of an initiative to eliminate any discrimination against those in protected categories during the recruitment process.  To that end, the EEOC brought an action in 2009 against the Freeman Companies alleging that their background checks for prior criminal convictions disparately impacted protected category applicants.  Late this summer, a Maryland federal court dismissed the EEOC's case based primarily on inadequate expert testimony.  However, the court also stated that "some specific uses of criminal....background checks ma