Stephen Hans Blog by cjleclaire
Employment and Labor Law Attorneys
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by cjleclaire
Feb 23, 2018 | 7573 views | 0 0 comments | 287 287 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

What Posters Must Employers Display based on NY Employment Laws?

A number of laws have been passed that require employers to display posters. It is often hard to keep up with all the requirements and know whether or not you’ve displayed all the posters.

The New York Department of Labor has a list of all the posters employers must display. Also, keep in mind that certain types of industries have additional posters to display based on laws related to their specific fields. For example, business owners engaged in the sale or service of food or beverages have additional required posters to display.

The following links provide access to the posters or information about the posters:

All Employers Must Display the Following Posters

Certain Industries Must Also Display the Following Posters

Public Employees: New York State Department of Labor Division of Safety & Health Public Employees Job Safety & Health Protection Poster

Every employer engaged in the sale or service of food or beverages must post the following two posters:

Deductions from Wages

Tip Appropriation

Construction contractors must post the following:

Prevailing Wage Rate

The current Prevailing Rate Schedule must be:

Posted on the site of the public work project where workers can see and access it

Encased in, or made of, weatherproof materials

Titled “PREVAILING RATE OF WAGES” in letters at least 2 inches by 2 inches

Public Work Poster

Construction Industry Fair Play Act (English)

Construction Industry Fair Play Act (Spanish)

Get Legal Help to Deal with Employment Law Compliance

If you have questions as to whether you are incompliance with employment laws, consult with an experienced employment defense attorney. Stephen Hans & Associates offers seasoned legal guidance to assist business owners with employment issues.


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March 09, 2018
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Job Termination: What Should You Know?
by cjleclaire
Feb 16, 2018 | 8713 views | 0 0 comments | 551 551 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Frequently Asked Questions About Job Termination

Deciding to fire or layoff an employee is often a tough decision. Sometimes employees have adverse reactions and retaliate if they believe the termination was unjust.

Here are some answers to common questions about termination provided by the New York Labor Law website:

Does New York State have “employment-at-will”?

New York is an employment-at-will state, which means if your employment contract has no restrictions against terminating an employee’s job, such as a union agreement, you can fire the employee for any reason and at any time. The employee can also resign without giving notice and suffer no legal repercussions. You can fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all.

However, you cannot fire an employee for reasons of discrimination based on the employee’s:

  • Race
  • Creed
  • National Origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status

Doing so violates the New York State Division of Human Rights, which is a division of the NY government that can sue you for discrimination.

Other statues, § 201-d and § 215, of the NY State Labor Law also prohibit termination based on:

  • Political or recreational activities outside of work
  • Legal use of consumable products outside of work
  • Membership in a union
  • For complaints made to the employer, Commissioner of Labor or Commissioner’s representative about provisions that are covered in the NY Labor Law.

Shot of a businessman standing in front of a window using a digital tablet

What is your responsibility for giving terminated employees their last paycheck?

You must pay the employees’ paychecks by the regular payday for the last pay period that the employees worked. If employees request that the paycheck be mailed, the employer must mail it.

When you decide to lay off employees, must you give notice of termination?

In 2008, the NY legislature passed the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires the following:

Employers in the private sector who have 50 or more employees (part-time employees excluded) must provide at least 90 days notice before closing their business. This refers to shutting down a single site of employment that results in laying off 25 or more full-time employees during any 30-day period. Employers must send a WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.

If employers are doing a mass layoff (excluding part-time employees) but not closing down the business, they must still provide at least a 90 days notice about the layoff when the layoff affects 33 percent of the workforce (at least 25 workers) or 250 workers from a single employment site. Employers must send the WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.

Stephen Hans & Associates  provides decades of experience to business owners with employment related issues.

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by cjleclaire
Feb 08, 2018 | 11059 views | 0 0 comments | 501 501 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

FAQ for Restaurant Owners

For restaurant owners, who are busy running their day-to-day business, New York Labor laws can seem like an added burden. Having access to a NY employment defense lawyer is often vital to navigate the laws and make your business successful.

According to the NY State Department of Labor, here are some frequently asked questions employers often ask:

Can you require employees to wear uniforms?

Yes, you can. What is considered a uniform? Black slacks and white shirts are not uniforms. A shirt with the company insignia or custom-made slacks and shirts would be considered uniforms. If your worker’s pay is minimum wage, then the cost of buying the uniform and taking care of it cannot bring the employee below the minimum wage rate. Employers must either clean and take care of the uniforms or pay their employees to care for them.

Are you limited by the number of hours an employee can work in a day?

Except for children under 18, there are no limitations on how many hours in a day an employee can work. There also are no limitations on how early or late an employer can ask an employee to work. However, in the restaurant industry, an employee must have 24 hours of rest one day in a calendar week. This does not apply to small, rural restaurants.

What are the rules for giving workers meal breaks?

For work shifts of more than six hours that begin before 11:00 a.m. and continue until 2:00 p.m., the workers must be provided with an uninterrupted lunch period of at least half an hour between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Employers do not have to pay for meal periods, and they do not have to provide other breaks for workers. However, if an employer permits a break of up to 20 minutes, then the employer must count it as work time and pay the employee.

Do You Have Other Questions about NY Labor Laws that Apply to Your Business?

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to explain the laws, offer legal guidance, and provide representation for employment dispute issues.

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February 23, 2018
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by cjleclaire
Jan 25, 2018 | 9417 views | 0 0 comments | 469 469 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Anti-Harassment Policies and Complaint Procedures

Your employment attorney can assist you with the wording for an anti-harassment policy, especially if you are currently dealing with harassment issues in your business and are seeking legal counsel.

Writing Anti-Harassment Policies

What should you include in a sexual harassment policy?

According to the EEOC, all kinds of harassment can occur in the workplace and sexual harassment is a specific type of discrimination. You want your policy to be broad enough to cover all types of harassment that violate federal law. Harassment involving any type of discrimination is illegal in the workplace. Therefore your policy should state that the employer does not tolerate any harassment based on the following:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Harassment based on opposition to discrimination or complaint proceedings
  • Retaliation against anyone complaining of harassment or participating in an investigation

Harassment Complaint Procedures

Establishing a procedure for dealing with harassment complaints is vital to protect employees and also to protect your business.

What elements should your complaint procedure incorporate?

First of all, as the employer, you should encourage your employees to report harassment. Doing so can help you prevent harassment from becoming severe or widespread.

You should appoint more than one official to take complaints and make sure the officials are accessible for employees — readily available and in locations where employees can contact them. You can decide and designate which officials are appropriate to hear complaints and also make sure that the supervisors hearing complaints report them to management.

Make sure that supervisors and other management personnel protect the confidentiality of the employee who is complaining. While this may not always be possible in every instance, try as much as possible to make confidentiality part of the procedure.

Should you limit reporting complaints to immediate supervisors?

This type of limitation could be detrimental, especially if the supervisor is party to the harassment. Designating an official outside the employee’s chain of command is preferable, and that way you have a better chance of ensuring there is impartial handling of complaints.

Do You Have Other Questions about Dealing with Sexual Harassment Issues in Your Business?

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to answer your questions, offer legal advise, and if necessary, represent you in employment dispute issues.

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Investigation
by cjleclaire
Jan 23, 2018 | 7711 views | 0 0 comments | 373 373 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

How Should You Conduct Harassment Investigations?

It is vital to conduct an investigation as soon as possible when an employer receives a complaint of sexual harassment (or any other type of discrimination harassment). Delays in investigating can be viewed as neglect and as a failure to take effective measures to prevent harassment in the workplace, which makes employers vulnerable to sexual harassment claims.

harassment Q & A

What Comprises an Effective Investigation?

The EEOC  recommends that employers incorporate the following into their investigations to ensure prompt and effective investigations:

Ensure the investigation is conducted immediately, thoroughly and with impartiality. Individuals who are alleged harassers should have no control, whether direct or indirect, over the investigation.

  • Those who should be interviewed during the investigation include:
  • The employee complaining about harassment
  • The alleged harasser(s)

Anyone with relevant information or who would be expected to have reasonable information about the harassment.

sexual harassment in the workplace, is the employer responsible

Ask the Complainant, Alleged Harassers and Witnesses Specific Questions

The following are some examples of specific questions that the EEOC suggests employers ask during a harassment investigation:

Questions for Complainant

  • Who, what, when, where, and how: Who committed the alleged harassment? What exactly occurred or was said? When did it occur and is it still ongoing? Where did it occur? How often did it occur? How did it affect you?
  • How did you react? What response did you make when the incident(s) occurred or afterwards?
  • How did the harassment affect you? Has your job been affected in any way?
  • Are there any persons who have relevant information? Was anyone present when the alleged harassment occurred? Did you tell anyone about it? Did anyone see you immediately after episodes of alleged harassment?
  • Did the person who harassed you harass anyone else? Do you know whether anyone complained about harassment by that person?
  • Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
  • How would you like to see the situation resolved?
  • Do you know of any other relevant information?

was there harassment

Questions for the Alleged Harasser

  • What is your response to the allegations?
  • If the harasser claims that the allegations are false, ask why the complainant might lie.
  • Are there any persons who have relevant information?
  • Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
  • Do you know of any other relevant information?

Questions for Witnesses

  • What did you see or hear? When did this occur? Describe the alleged harasser’s behavior toward the complainant and toward others in the workplace.
  • What did the complainant tell you? When did s/he tell you this?
  • Do you know of any other relevant information?
  • Are there other persons who have relevant information?

Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of experience assisting business owners with employment related issues.

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January 27, 2018
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by cjleclaire
Jan 18, 2018 | 7809 views | 0 0 comments | 389 389 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Q&A that Applies to Sexual Harassment in Small Business Environments

If you are a small business owner, you may wonder how to protect your small business from sexual harassment and resulting claims that put your business at risk.

Here are some questions and answers (Q&A) that are a good place to start when dealing with sexual harassment.

This Q&A relates to harassment by supervisors:

Who is considered a supervisor?

Any individual who has the authority to recommend tangible employment decisions affecting the employee is a supervisor. Tangible employment decisions include significant employment actions that change an employee’s status, such as:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Work assignment
  • Undesirable reassignment
  • Significant benefits changes
  • Compensation decisions

When are employers liable for a supervisor’s sexual harassment?

Whenever a supervisor engages in harassment that results in a tangible employment action, the employers are always liable. When no tangible employment action occurs, employers are still liable unless they can show the following:

  • They took reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment.
  • The employee reasonably failed to complain to management or failed to otherwise avoid harm.

What steps should employers take to prevent and correct sexual harassment?

Employers need to establish policy that prohibits harassment, put it in writing and pass it out to all employers.

Employers should create procedures for making complaints and notify employees.

When a business is sufficiently small that the owner is regularly in contact with all employees, the employer does not have to put policies in writing. Employers can tell employees at staff meetings that harassment is not allowed, that employees should report harassment immediately and they can even report incidents of harassment directly to the owner.

The business should conduct a prompt investigation when harassment is reported.

When sexual harassment is discovered, the discipline for the offending employee should be comparable to the extent and type of harassment.

As much as possible, the employer should keep the harassed employee’s identity confidential. Otherwise, if the offender retaliates against the reporting employee, the company could be held liable for the retaliation.

(This Q&A applies to all types of harassment, not just sexual harassment and more information is available in the EEOC article, Questions and Answers for Small Employers on Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisors ).

Are You Dealing with Sexual Harassment Issues in Your Business?

Stephen Hans & Associates can offer valuable legal assistance to help you protect your business. Our attorneys have more than 20 years of experience defending employers.

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January 29, 2018
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by cjleclaire
Dec 29, 2017 | 10094 views | 0 0 comments | 340 340 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Most people assume that restaurant workers would be thrilled about a raise in the minimum wage, but that restaurant owners would not be in favor of it.

An interesting situation took place in Maine last summer that is worthy of note regarding minimum wages. According to The Washington Post , the Maine House voted to lower minimum wages for tipped restaurant workers based on the workers’ request. The bill to reduce their minimum wages passed and restaurant workers were happy about it.

Restaurant servers in Maine had campaigned to overturn the results of a November referendum that would’ve raised servers’ hourly wages from $3.75 in 2016 to $12 by 2024. They believed that such a raise would result in customers tipping less and consequently lower overall income.

In addition, servers in New York, Massachusetts and D.C. were also beginning to move politically against minimum wage increases for servers in their states.

restaurant minimum wage increase

The Explanation Behind Wanting a Low Minimum Wage

Restaurant labor models differ from most industries. When tipped workers’ wages fall below the minimum wage, the employer must pay the difference. However, whether restaurants actually adhere that requirement or not is rather uncertain. Servers who make most of their income in tips do not want to upset management or change what is working well for them.

Some servers believed that the added expenses of higher minimum wages for restaurant owners would result in raising prices and cutting work shifts, which would ultimately result in people tipping less, servers working less and lower incomes. Some workers stated that they witnessed customers tipping less after the referendum passed.

It’s also possible that a raise in minimum wage would balance out and offset reduced tipping by customers. Most likely, servers working in rural diners would have benefited from a minimum wage hike, but servers who stood the most to lose were those making $20 to $25 per hour and working at higher end restaurants. These were the workers that became politically activated to oppose the minimum wage raise.

Do You Have Concerns as a Restaurant Owner?

Stephen Hans & Associates has assisted employers for more than two decades with employment issues, including lawsuits involving wage and hour disputes.

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March 14, 2018
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Judge Roy Moore and the Sexual Allegations He Faces
by cjleclaire
Dec 18, 2017 | 8748 views | 0 0 comments | 199 199 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

What could be more damning for a political career than allegations of sexual misconduct? In today’s media climate, sexual allegations are a powerful juggernaut to take down almost anyone’s political career. They are also a force to be reckoned with for company executives and other prominent figures.

Consequently, many companies and organizations are quick to cut ties with political figures or individuals in powerful positions who face credible sexual harassment allegations.

sexual harassment in the workplace

Details About the Sexual Allegations Brought Against Judge Moore

Recent allegations about Judge Moore indicate that back in the 1970s and early 1980s when he held the position of Assistant District Attorney, he was involved in sexual misconduct with young girls and one that was underage.

The Washington Post conducted an investigation and interviewed four women about alleged sexual misconduct on Moore’s part and posted its findings on November 9. At first, all the women were reluctant to discuss the matter. They did not know each other, but at the time of the alleged incidents they were between the ages of 14 and 18 and Moore was in his 30s.

Repercussions from the Media Exposure

According to a Fox News report, multiple republicans have requested that Moore step down from the December special election in Alabama, and the National Republic Senatorial Committee cut its fundraising ties with Moore.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders conveyed that the president does not plan to make an in-person appearance to support Moore. In addition, Vice President Pence indicated the allegations were disturbing and if true, it would disqualify anyone from serving in office.

Senator Mitch McConnell has stated he believes the allegations were true and asked Moore to step aside. Senator Cory Gardner has agreed and taken a further step by encouraging the Senate to “vote to expel” Moore if he wins the election. Another Senator who previously backed Moore, Senator Mike Lee of Utah has also withdrawn his endorsement.

Prevent Allegations of Sexual Harassment from Arising in Your Business

Employers dealing with harassment or discrimination issues should seek legal advice immediately. Stephen Hans & Associates  brings decades of experience to help business owners deal with sexual harassment and other discrimination issues.

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by cjleclaire
Dec 18, 2017 | 6937 views | 0 0 comments | 167 167 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Since multiple allegations of sexual misconduct emerged regarding Harvey Weinstein, during the past month, other women have come forward in Hollywood and other industries to make their claims of sexual harassment known.

A recent example is Democratic Representative John Conyers, who is resigning amidst accusations of sexual misconduct by multiple women.

Confers announced his decision to retire while in a Detroit hospital during an interview on “The Mildred Gaddis Show” on 102.7 FM. and said he plans to back his son to replace him.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations

According to The Washington Post, former staff member Deanna Maher came forward with claims that on various occasions from 1997 through 2005, Conyers sexually harassed her. She said she never came forward earlier because he was too powerful and she believed no one would want to take her claims seriously.

However, there was a previous staff member who also alleged sexual misconduct claims, and in 2015 a settlement was reached between Conyers and the staff member for $27,000. The settlement was over the staff member’s claims for what had occurred when she worked for him in the 1990’s.

These claims recently led to a House ethics investigation of Conyers (age 88), the longest serving member of Congress. He denied the claims. However, as a result, House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi made a statement saying that the claims were believable and requested that Conyers step down, which he has done.

CNN reported that Representative Jim Clyburn also asked Conyers to resign and said it was in his best interests. Clyburn is the assistant Democratic leader and holds the highest-ranking position by an African American in the House.

Are You Dealing with Sexual Harassment Issues in Your Business?

Stephen Hans & Associates represents employers and business owners in employment law dispute cases. Our attorneys have more than 20 years of experience defending employers.

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EEOC Offers Harassment Prevention and Respectful Workplaces Training
by cjleclaire
Nov 21, 2017 | 12632 views | 0 0 comments | 309 309 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Despite legislation and law enforcement, incidents of harassment still occur in the workplace. Often employers are at a loss in knowing how to prevent it. They can’t be everywhere at once to supervise first-hand what is taking place in their business.

The new training being offered by the EEOC is a proactive solution for preventing harassment. The training applies to real life situations and gives employees and employers valuable tools that begin by addressing uncivil behavior, which can escalate and lead to harassment.

Sexual Harassment

How Does This Training Differ from Other Anti-Harassment Education and Training Programs?

Traditional anti-harassment or anti-discrimination training programs focus on educating supervisors and workers about existing laws, legal definitions and liability standards that businesses must meet.

The EEOC’s new programs , called “Leading for Respect” and “Respect in the Workplace,” focus directly on conduct.

Participants in the program learn about treating others with respect and what respectful conduct involves. By fostering respectful behavior in the workplace, businesses can also become more efficient and profitable. The training also assists employers by reviewing their policies and procedures and evaluating them in terms of harassment prevention.

The point where a company starts preventing harassment is by changing its culture.  Two main aspects of the program geared to do this are workplace civility training and bystander intervention training.

Workplace Civility and Bystander Intervention Training

Workplace civility training promotes civility and tolerance for diversity in the workplace. When workers enter a general culture of civility, employers often see less of its counterpart, harassment.

Civility training has been used by employers and is not new to workplaces. However, bystander prevention training is a newer concept for preventing harassment.

Schools and colleges have used violence intervention training as a way to curb sexual assault. It empowers students to intervene and prevent assault by increasing bystander awareness, encouraging collective responsibility, empowering students through skill-building exercises and making resources available to support intervention. By-stander prevention training brings the same skills to the workplace to enable workers to intervene and stop harassment.

If you have questions or legal concerns about workplace harassment, find out how we can help.

Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of experience assisting company owners with employment related issues.

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February 10, 2018
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