Labor & Employment Blog



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


The United States Department of Labor recently issued some new regulations regarding direct care workers (workers who provide home care services, certified nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aides, caregivers, and companions) which are effective January 1, 2015.  The regulations entitle these workers to receive at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay.


In response to the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as limited to a union between a man and a woman, the United States Department of Labor recently revised the definition of spouse for purposes of eligibility under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  The updated definition is as follows:


We hope that policies and training have become so airtight in your business that workplace harassment on any basis, much less based on a protected category, has been eliminated, or if a hint of it arises, is quickly ended and remediated, if necessary.  Such harassment is particularly egregious and more difficult to defend if it is committed by company supervisors.  The United States Supreme Court recently addressed this issue in its June 2013 decision in Vance v.


Let’s face it, unpaid internships are opportunities for exposure to the inner workings of business that a person otherwise might not be able to obtain. In today’s economic climate, internships are often the only way people can get good experience and make invaluable contacts, which can also lead to a paid position within the organization.  If not, other potential paying employers are impressed with the experience, and not whether that experience was paid.


During the investigation of a workplace complaint, many employers have a blanket policy that all employee witnesses maintain strict confidentiality regarding the ongoing investigation and underlying allegations.  This type of confidentiality policy may seem like common sense, but in fact it can be a common mistake.  Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an Advice Memorandum cautioning that such blanket policies chill protected speech under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.


Now that the Supreme Court has found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, employers must immediately contact their benefits’ brokers (if any) and labor/employment attorneys to craft a plan to ensure compliance going forward. 


Welcome to the Underberg & Kessler Labor and Employment Law Blog.  Our team of labor and employment attorneys -- Paul Keneally, Beth Cordello, and Jennifer Shoemaker, along with occasional guest appearances from others in the firm -- will provide you with timely, practical advice in these constantly evolving fields of law.  We hope you enjoy and learn from the posts, and we encourage you to contact us with suggestions.