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New York City Legal Blog

Employee-funded paid leave starts in New York

Employers in New York know that they must comply with many different state and federal laws when it comes to their relationships with employees, compensation, benefits and more. The state of New York has recently enacted yet another employment law effective at the start of 2018 that employers will need to understand. This law allows people the ability to take time off of work to care for a family member and to receive some financial benefits when they do.

For some time now, many employees have been able to take time away from their jobs to provide care for relatives and know that their jobs are protected while they tend to their personal responsibilities. This leave has been without any pay. To date, four states have approved legislation to create state family leave programs that provide some pay during the leave period including nearby New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Options exist for how to spend tax savings

Consumers, business owners and executives in New York and around the nation have been watching and waiting to see just what might come of a proposed change in the tax plan. Regardless of party line or philosophy, at some point everyone needs to get on board with whatever the changes will be. The President has long touted strong benefits to individual workers by slashing the corporate tax rate. However, some point out that this may not necessarily be what happens in the end.

Certainly businesses may end up with extra money in their pockets when they have less tax to pay. One option for how to spend that could be to funnel that directly to employees either in the form of wage increases, bonuses or even technology and capital expenditure upgrades. There are other options on the table that may well take precedence for many businesses, leaving the everyday consumer experiencing little different.

Confidentiality agreement basics

If you are in a business in New York where you need to work with vendors, suppliers or other third parties in order to execute your operations, you may well have a need to create a non-disclosure agreement. Also referred to as confidentiality agreements, these contracts may provide valuable protections for you in cases that require you to disclose potentially sensitive business strategy or data to a third party.

As explained by Forbes, you may even choose to execute an NDA with your employees to ensure that they do not inappropriately share proprietary information with competitors or others. These contracts may also be useful for you if you are considering the sale of your business and want to share financial data with a prospective buyer.

The harsh reality of pregnancy discrimination

In today's tense political climate, sexism in the workplace has taken a major spotlight. The Weinstein effect and other daunting news highlights have made the issue clear that, despite shifting viewpoints, imbalances among genders remain. Pregnancy has its own place within this multifaceted issue, and recent adjustments in New York's laws have sought to better protect those facing discrimination.

Earlier this year, an article in Forbes argued that a core priority for businesses should be that of women's healthcare. Regarding the issue as "institutional sexism" that has long been embedded into policies, Forbes goes on to say that biases against certain women are also a major concern. And pregnant women are not the only target for gender bias -- Forbes claims it is the very potential of getting pregnant that sends employers hesitating to hire women altogether. This clearly initiates a problem for the female sex by posing economic strife and other bias-fueled complications. Ultimately, Forbes points out that this bias alone hints that, in such circumstances, assumptions have been made about a female employee: her choice to have children, her fertility and that the woman intends to be a stay-at-home mother.    

The importance of regular estate plan reviews

Residents in New York who have taken the time to create carefully crafted and thorough estate plans should feel good about that. However, an estate plan is not a static document or set of documents. Instead, it should be viewed as a living document which requires regular review and updating. This is because it directly reflects one's life and that is always subject to change.

Forbes recommends that people make an annual estate plan review a matter of course, much like getting an annual physical with a doctor. This may help to avoid a situation in which a person dies suddenly and the existing plan ends up being many years of out date and not reflective of the relationships or assets in that person's life at the time of their death. Having a current estate plan may also help to reduce the risk of a conflict between heirs so long as there are no concerns of fraud, maniuplation or other forms of undue influence put on that person to outline certain plans.

Dancers, bartenders and workplace discrimination

In the heat of today's political climate, discrimination is a word with which nearly every American is likely familiar. Workplace discrimination has long been known to damage the emotional and physical states of all involved. When it comes to employment laws in New York, individuals have the right to address a situation legally and fairly. Nonetheless, some workers in the state have recently expressed difficulty in resolving their disputes while at work.

Business Insider shares the story of frustrated New York workers who claim others in the workplace are taking away from their profits. Dancers at the now-closed Aces New York are organizing a strike against discrimination in the industry, arguing that a new type of bartender (known as "startenders") are detracting from their shows. Business Insider points out that with the rise of the social media platform Instagram, startenders are gaining more popularity than the strippers themselves. As a result, the workers onstage receive less pay. The dancers even allege that startenders receive preferential treatment while at work and urge customers to refrain from paying the dancers. Will the New York strippers strike improve the working condition for countless women? The end result may be uncertain, but workers statewide are beginning to take a stand on the matter of discrimination. 

Minimum wage raises: a positive step forward?

Everyone deserves the right to earn fair pay. Yet that sentiment appears to lie at the heart of the very issue: that fair pay in New York can take on a different definition from one person to the next. Yet a large majority of minimum-wage workers stress that their pay simply does not meet basic needs.

The topic of minimum wage has picked up traction for the better part of the last decade, and attitudes continue to change as laws surrounding the topic adjust to the needs of workers. Some argue against raising the wage, claiming it could only hurt the job market; others point out that there is no evidence of such damage. Will New York's rising minimum wage make a lasting and positive change?

Whistleblowing protected despite NY’s at-will status

Firing an employee is never easy but it is necessary at times, and in New York, employers do not have to justify or even document the reasons. According to the state Attorney General's office, New York is an "employment-at-will" state, and non-government employees have no grounds for legal redress if discharged, despite whether they view the action as being unfair.

However, that does not mean that there are no protections for employees. Circumstances under which a fired employee may sue for damages or reinstatement include union and other employment contracts with specific termination clauses or grievance procedures to be followed, as well as "whistleblowing."

Sexual harassment in the workplace: What it includes

It is illegal for employers in New York and elsewhere in the country to perpetuate or tolerate sexual harassment. However, the conversation continues in Silicon Valley as more women step forward to share their personal accounts of having been sexually harassed at work. The Street, a financial news site, reports that the problem is at all levels of business and across all business sectors, from startups to tech powerhouses such as Alphabet Inc.

What started as a blog post launched an investigation into claims of sexual harassment by high- and mid-level managers at Uber Technologies Inc. The investigation eventually led to the firing of several managers and the resignation of the CEO.

Pregnancy protection, employers and the law

There are a multitude of ways that an employee discrimination case can arise within a company, but pregnancy discrimination is increasingly becoming the focus of attention in America. Many argue that New York is home to one of the nation's best pregnancy protection programs. However, some employees claim that unfairness and bias regarding preganancy still thrive in the workplace.  

When an employee is starting or expanding their family, it is often the employer that must compromise scheduling and other work-related needs. The New York post recently reported on a case of pregnancy discrimination, where an educator asserted that she was fired on the basis of her pregnancy. The 15-year veteran teacher claimed her boss mocked her in the school's hallways, yet the report offered little information covering the actual harrassment on behalf of the teacher's boss. The teacher reported that once she informed her boss of her pregnancy, her boss accused her of not working as hard as usual. As a result, the teacher sued the Department of Education, as well as the city.

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