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Employment Law

New York City Lawyers Fighting for Your Workplace Rights

Various legal issues can come up at all stages of employment, from the moment that you respond to a job ad until after you have left the employment of a particular business. Employment law matters in New York City or Long Island may include employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wage and hour claims, whistleblower claims, wrongful termination, and more. If you face any legal issue related to your job, you should consult the New York City employment lawyers at Gerstman Schwartz.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when an employee faces unwelcome conduct or speech based on his or her sex. The New York City Human Rights Law is considered one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws protecting employees around the country. Any unwanted sexual behavior is illegal under the law. Unwanted sexual behavior could include pranks, gestures, lewd remarks, touching, assault, or even rape. The New York State Human Rights Law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibit sexual harassment.

Employment Discrimination

Employment discrimination occurs when an employee is treated adversely because of his or her membership in a protected class. Adverse treatment can include failing to hire, firing, failing to promote, wage differentials, and providing different terms and conditions for employment. Federal, state, and local laws protect different classes. For example, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on a disability. Moreover, 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. 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 that it alters the terms and conditions of employment. Our employment attorneys can assist New York City or Long Island workers with bringing hostile work environment claims.

Wrongful Termination

In New York, if there is no written agreement for a particular term of employment, employment is at will, which means that your employer can fire you arbitrarily. However, there are exceptions. If your written or implied employment contract specifies that you cannot be terminated without just cause for a specific time period, for example, you may be able to bring a wrongful termination lawsuit based on a breach of a contract. Additionally, your employer cannot legally fire you in violation of employment discrimination or whistleblower laws, or in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.

Wage and Hour Law

Wage and hour law covers matters such as minimum wage, overtime, and meal and rest periods. The minimum wage is different in different parts of the state. For example, in New York City, business with up to 10 employees must pay $13.50 in minimum wage, and it is $15.00 per hour for businesses employing at least 11 employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that overtime be paid at a rate of 1.5 times the regular rate to nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours per week. New York also has a state overtime law, although certain workers are exempt.

Severance / Contracts / Non-Competes

There are advantages and disadvantages to employment contracts. Generally, employment is at will, but there is an exception when an employment contract specifies that an employee can only be terminated for specific reasons or for just cause within a certain period of time. Sometimes offer letters create a certain understanding as well. There is no general law mandating severance to workers who have been terminated, but sometimes employment contracts specify that severance will be paid. In other cases, an employer may offer severance pay in exchange for the employee signing a waiver of all potential claims against the employer, including discrimination claims. You should consult a New York City employment attorney before signing this type of waiver. Employers sometimes place noncompete clauses in employment contracts, and this can affect your ability to seek certain jobs in a certain location after employment. Noncompete clauses must meet certain requirements in order to be enforceable.

Whistleblower Claims

Federal and New York laws protect whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are people who report the fraudulent behavior or misconduct of an employer. The New York general whistleblower law is found in New York Labor Law section 740. Under this law, employers cannot retaliate against employees who threaten to disclose, actually disclose, or report unlawful practices, policies, or activities in which employers engage. They cannot retaliate against an employee who gives information or testifies in a hearing or investigation related to a violation. You can file in civil court for damages under section 740. There are also numerous federal whistleblower laws like the False Claims Act, Dodd-Frank, and Sarbanes Oxley.


Defamation in an employment context happens if somebody makes a false statement to a third person about the employee. It includes both oral statements that are considered slander and written statements that constitute libel. In order to establish defamation, you generally would need to show that the defendant made a written or oral factual false statement about you, it was published to a third party without authorization or privilege, the defendant’s fault constituted at least negligence, and the statement caused harm.

Discuss Your Case With an Employment Lawyer in New York City

When you go to work in New York, you should be judged on how well you do your job, instead of your identity. However, employment law issues often come up on the job, when a worker is interviewing for a job, or after a worker leaves a job. If you think that you may have a claim, you should call the skillful employment litigators at Gerstman Schwartz at (212) 227-7070 or contact us online.

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I was scared to fight my employer. I knew it would be an uphill battle, and I wasn’t sure I could win against an organization with their resources. But Gerstman Schwartz gave me courage, confidence and they delivered on every promise. Ashley
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