Paycheck Deductions: What Is Legal in New York?

Understanding NY Laws about Paycheck Deductions Laws vary from state to state regarding deducting for loans or legitimate business losses from an employee’s paycheck. New York has very strict labor laws regarding this, stricter than laws in many other states. In addition, current guidelines have changed from what they were in the past. Guidelines Regarding NY Paycheck Deductions New York State Labor Law provides guidelines that list what paycheck deductions are legal. After receiving notice of all terms and conditions of the payment/benefits and details about the manner in which the deductions will be made, employees must voluntarily authorize the deductions in writing. Authorized deductions include: Insurance premiums and prepaid legal plans Pension or health and welfare benefits Contributions to a bona fide charitable organization Purchases made at events sponsored by a bona fide charitable organization affiliated with the employer when 20 percent of the event’s profits are being contributed to a bona fide charitable organization U.S. bonds Dues or assessment to a labor organization Discounted parking or passes, tokens, fare cards, vouchers or items that enable mass transit for the employee Fitness center, health club, and/or gym membership dues Cafeteria and vending machine purchases made at the employer’s place of business and purchases at gift shops operated by the employer, where the employer is a hospital, college or university Pharmacy purchases made at the employer’s place of business Tuition, room, board and fees for pre-school, nursery, primary, secondary, and/or post-secondary educational institutions Day care, before-school and after-school care expenses Payments for housing provided at no more than market rates by non-profit hospitals or affiliates Similar payments for the...

Job Termination: How to Avoid Breaking Laws When Firing Employees

Are Your Job Termination Actions Within the Limits of the Law? Many employers consider job termination to be one of their most difficult tasks. Yet it is often necessary. Taking disciplinary action is generally done prior to firing, and while in some cases warnings are adequate and help avoid job termination, in other instances they are precursors to termination. How can you ensure your actions stay within the law? Important Steps to Take to Protect Your Rights as an Employer The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends that employers take a look at their reasons for disciplinary action or for firing an employee and ensure discrimination is not a factor. An employer can run down the following checklist and evaluate accordingly: Are there indications that the discipline or job termination is related to race, color, religion, sex (includes pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 years or older), or genetic information (family medical history would apply)? Is the disciplinary action/termination based on the fact an employee decided to a) report discrimination b) participate in a discrimination investigation/lawsuit or c) file a discrimination complaint? Is the decision for disciplining/terminating an employee consistent with company policy? If not, is there justification for treating the employee differently? Have you documented the reason or reasons for discipline or job termination? Have you explained to the employee the reason behind your decision to discipline or terminate employment? Are you responding quickly to a discrimination complaint regarding disciplinary action and handling it effectively? Are you retaining disciplinary records? Records are important because if the employee files a complaint with the EEOC...

What Should You Do If an Employee Sues Your Company?

Guidelines for Dealing with Lawsuits As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and knowing what steps are important to take when facing a lawsuit can help you take effective and quick action to protect your interests. Consult with an Employment Defense Lawyer The first and most important step to take is to review the lawsuit with an experienced employment defense attorney. You can learn more about your legal rights and find out the best way to deal with the lawsuit. Your attorney will have you preserve any documentation or records that relate to the case, which could include the following: Written documents Reports Emails Web pages Photos Videos Voice messages Text messages Any other electronic communications Do Not Personally Communicate with the Plaintiff Once an employee has filed a lawsuit, direct contact with the plaintiff about the lawsuit is not wise because anything you say could be misconstrued or used against you. You should have your employment defense attorney handle all communications with the plaintiff’s attorney. Consult with Your Insurance Agent Many lawsuits fall under the umbrella of a liability insurance policy, depending on what your policy covers. For example, employment practices liability insurance frequently covers a lawsuit and pays for attorney’s fees, court costs and a settlement or judgment. Do Not Ignore the Lawsuit and Take Action Right Away The worst thing you could do is to ignore the lawsuit, hoping it will go away. Time limitations exist for lawsuits, and ignoring the lawsuit could lead to the plaintiff filing for a Request for Default. A Request for Default would result in the plaintiff automatically winning the case...

Company Security and Surveillance: Where Should Employers Draw the Line?

Are Your Security and Surveillance Policies Violating Privacy Laws? Companies have the right to protect against internal theft or property destruction. They also have a responsibility to evaluate productivity and ensure their resources are used efficiently and effectively. If a company faces litigation, gathering evidence becomes a priority. As a means of gathering information, companies often use surveillance systems, whether gathering information related to production, theft, property damage, or for litigation purposes. Types of Surveillance Installing cameras for video surveillance is one approach to surveillance. Putting GPS tracking on company vehicles is another form. Monitoring software is also available to install in company computers and cell phones. What Types of Legal Precautions Should You Take? According to Business News Daily, employers should post signage, which states that the premises are monitored by security cameras. For computer monitoring, when the employee uses a company device, there are virtually no ramifications for installing monitoring software to monitor what employees are doing at work. Employers have the right to know whether the employee is working on tasks related to the job and what tasks are getting done. It is better for employers to require that employees use the business’s computers because they would not have the same right to install monitoring software on a device the employee owns. Where employers can run into trouble is when they acquire too much information of a private nature. Finding out an employee’s medical information would violate HIPPA or could lead to a lawsuit that claimed violation of the Genetic Information Act. Spying on employees who are exercising their right to discuss unionizing, collective bargaining, wages...

How to Survive as a Small Business Owner Among a Myriad of Laws & Regulations

Laws Small Business Owners Should Know About Business laws have multiplied over the years and as a small business owner, you might feel overwhelmed because there are so many. Which laws take priority for your small business? Large companies have HR departments to tackle legal requirements, but smaller companies do not share this advantage. Business News Daily addresses this concern and points out four primary laws that should concern small business owners the most: Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA and employee leaves from work) Any private sector employer who has 50 or more employees must provide eligible workers up to 12 weeks of family medical leave during a 12-month period. This means that the employee’s job is protected during the leave from work. Certain family and medical situations make a worker eligible to receive the leave. By law, the employer cannot prevent deny or interfere with the right to this leave. However, a close examination of the reasons an employee gives for requesting the leave can prevent abuse of the FMLA. Employers can require that employees fill out a request form and provide mandatory medical certifications to ensure the employee qualifies for the leave. Non-unionized Employers Although you may not employ unionized workers, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), workers have the right to unionize, collectively bargain and take part in activities that are for their “mutual aid and protection” (NLRA). They are allowed to discuss wages and other terms or conditions of their employment with each other. Your policies that restrict what employees can post on social media must not interfere with employees’ NLRA rights. It’s a...