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When you apply for a job or go to work, you rightly expect that you will be treated with respect and dignity. Your employer should not evaluate you based on a feature of your identity such as your race or sex. An employer should not require you to break a law as a term or condition of your employment. An employer should not require you to sign an employment contract that would unduly restrict your ability to work in your career for no legitimate reason. Often, New York employers have substantially more power than workers do, making it difficult for workers to get recourse for legal violations without help from a skillful and experienced litigator. At Gerstman Schwartz, we have your back. We use a take-no-prisoners approach to right the wrongs of corporate or business interests and to deliver justice for the workers who are our clients. We represent employees throughout New York City and Long Island.
Employment law matters include sexual harassment, employment discrimination, wage and hour claims, wrongful termination, hostile work environment claims, whistleblower claims, and others. Each of these issues is governed by a different law. Employment discrimination is prohibited under federal, state, and local laws. There are nuances to these different laws, including different remedies, so it is important to consult an employment attorney in New York about which laws might best apply to your situation. Similarly, whistleblower claims are covered under both New York and federal laws. Most issues arising in connection with employment contracts or defamation are controlled by state law.
Sexual harassment happens if an employee experiences unwelcome speech or conduct from a coworker, supervisor, manager, customer, or client due to his or her sex. The unwelcome speech or conduct might include gestures, memes, graphics, touches, assault, or even rape. Both quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment are actionable. Whether something is actionable depends on the particular law under which you pursue remedies: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, or the New York City Human Rights Law. In most cases, the city law is the most inclusive and provides the greatest relief, but there are nuances to each of these laws, and you should consult an experienced sexual harassment attorney about your particular situation.Employment Discrimination
Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employment discrimination based on numerous protected characteristics. Employment discrimination happens when an employee faces a negative employment decision due to his or her membership in a protected class. Employment decisions that might give rise to a discrimination lawsuit include paying workers differently based on membership in a protected class, failing to hire someone because of membership in a protected class, or providing different terms and conditions of employment based on membership in a protected class. For example, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on a disability. If you were terminated because you have a disability as it is defined by the ADA, a New York employment attorney can help you bring a federal claim. However, the New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law also prohibit employment discrimination based on a wide range of protected characteristics, including disabilities.Wrongful Termination
Most of the time, in New York, employment is at will. There is no common law cause of action for wrongful termination in the state. However, there are exceptions to the general at-will rule, such as when an employment contract specifies that you can only be terminated for “good cause” or another basis for termination. For example, if your employer terminates you for using too much paper in the printer, and your employment contract specified that you could only be fired for good cause, it is likely that you would have a claim against your employer. Other exceptions apply when you are terminated in violation of applicable employment discrimination laws or whistleblower laws or in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.Wage and Hour Law
Employers must abide by federal, state, and local wage and hour laws. These laws govern minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest periods, and other rules related to how much you should be paid. There is both a federal and a state minimum wage. The state minimum wage differs, depending on where in New York you are located. The minimum wage in New York City hinges on whether you work for a company with 10 or fewer employees or whether your employer has at least 11 employees. If the former, you need to be paid $13.50 per hour in minimum wage. If the latter, you need to be paid $15.00 per hour in minimum wage. Our employment lawyers help New York workers assert their rights to proper pay.Employment Contracts
Employment contracts may provide the effective date of the agreement, the parties, the type of employment, employment duties, the terms and conditions of employment, the hours and days of work, benefits, circumstances under which termination shall occur, notices, severability, and the dispute mechanism to be utilized. Often, employment contracts include provisions related to severance and non-compete clauses. They may include a provision that you would only be terminated for just cause within a certain window of time. Generally, severance is not mandated by law, but an employer may specify terms of severance in an employment contract or offer it to a worker when the worker is leaving the job. Non-compete clauses are enforceable in New York, but they need to meet specific requirements.Hostile Work Environment
Hostile work environment harassment is one form of employment discrimination. It occurs when verbal or physical behavior based on an employee’s protected characteristic is either so severe or so pervasive in the workplace that it alters the terms and conditions of employment or results in an adverse employment decision. For example, if an employee faces insults, bullying, pranks, or other unwelcome physical contact based on their sex, this may create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment may be created by coworkers, supervisors, managers, clients, or customers. Our New York employment lawyers can help you determine whether certain behavior is actionable under federal, state, or local laws.Whistleblower Claims
Federal and state laws protect whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are employees who report their employer’s misconduct, fraud, or other legal violations. Federal laws that protect whistleblowers include the federal False Claims Act and the Dodd-Frank Act. New York also has several whistleblower laws. The general whistleblower law is New York Labor Law section 740. Whistleblower laws provide that employers may not legally retaliate against a whistleblower who threatens to disclose, actually discloses, or reports an employer’s unlawful activities, policies, or practices. Your employer should also not retaliate against you for providing information in an investigation or testifying in a hearing in connection with a legal violation.Defamation
Defamation lawsuits most often arise in an employment context when an employer makes false statements about an employee or former employee to a third party that is thinking of hiring the employee. You should consult an employment lawyer in New York if you are considering this type of claim. To recover damages for defamation under New York law, you need to prove that the defendant made a false statement about you, the false statement was published to a third party when the speaker did not have privilege or authorization, this amounted to at least negligence, and it caused harm to you or it constituted defamation per se. Some statements are considered defamation per se. This occurs when the statement at issue charges the plaintiff with a serious crime, claims that the plaintiff has a loathsome disease, states false facts that would injure the plaintiff in his or her trade or profession, or alleges the plaintiff’s sexual promiscuity.Consult a Skillful Employment Attorney
Your career is important to your family and you. However, there are numerous legal issues that may arise that can adversely affect your career. For instance, sexual harassment or a hostile work environment based on your race can affect you both financially and psychologically for years to come. It is important that you be judged on the quality of your work performance, rather than your identity. If you suffer harm due to an employment issue at work, you should call the skillful litigators at Gerstman Schwartz. Call us at (212) 227-7070 or contact us online to set up an appointment with an employment attorney in New York.
No matter how you have been wronged, we understand that taking on your employer takes courage, grit and determination. Star litigator, David Schwartz is an aggressive and passionate attorney, who is unafraid to challenge corporate machines. He is supported by a team of researchers and advocates who are unapologetic in their determination to win on your behalf, and achieve a fair result for you and your family.
"We will not be bullied, we will not back down, and we will not stop until our client feels that justice has been served. We appreciate the strength it takes to be the underdog – and we will fight hard for you."- David Schwartz
Brad Gerstman, a former Bronx County Assistant District Attorney, is a leading New York State attorney with unique public relations skills. His aggressive approach is well known throughout NYS. His diverse background and extensive experience in law, business, government relations, education, and the not-for-profit community places him in a unique position to represent and advocate for those facing harassment or any wrongdoing at the hands of their employer.
"We built this firm to take on the most difficult matters against the toughest opponents."- Brad Gerstman
New York Employment Lawyer | Long Island Sexual Harassment Attorney | Gerstman Schwartz
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