Labor & Employment Blog



The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently decided that Starbucks baristas must share their tips with shift supervisors who do much of the same work.  A group of plaintiffs sued on behalf of a class of more than 5000 baristas, alleging that Starbucks’ policy requiring them to share their tips with shift supervisors violated New York State Labor Law.  The Court found that under New York Labor Law, “employer-mandated tip splitting should be limited to employees who, like waiters and busboys, are ordinarily engaged in personal customer service, a rule that comports wit


An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently ruled that a college’s employment policy prohibiting “gossip” in the workplace ran afoul of the protected speech provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, and therefore the termination of an employee under that policy was unlawful.


In a further step in the admirable nationwide movement against smoking, the New York State Legislature passed a law effective October 29, 2013 banning smoking on the entire grounds of hospitals and nursing homes.  Many such facilities have already enacted their own smoking bans, but must be mindful of the specifics of the new law.  For example, the ban also applies to within 15 feet of hospital and nursing home building entries/exits, and the entrances/exits of hospital and nursing home grounds. 


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.