Common Defenses to Overtime Disputes

The Arguments Employers Can Make to Refute Wage and Hour Claims As an employer, you work hard to maintain a positive and harmonious work environment. Nonetheless, it’s not unusual to face allegations of federal labor or employment laws. One of the most common involved an employee’s right to overtime pay. When Is Overtime Pay Required? Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), eligible workers have the right to additional compensation for extra hours worked. To qualify for overtime under federal law, you must be a non-exempt employee and you must have worked more than 40 hours during a given pay period or work week. According, the primary defenses to a federal overtime claim are that the worker was exempt or that the worker did not exceed 40 hours within the applicable time frame. What Types of Employees Are Exempt from Overtime under Federal Law? The Fair Labor Standards Act identifies a number of situations where a worker may not qualify for overtime benefits: The employee is paid on a commission basis—The worker must receive more than half of his or her income from commissions and must average at least one and a half times the minimum wage for every hour worked Executive, professional, administrative and outside sales employees who are paid a salary Certain employees of automobile dealerships, including salespersons, mechanics and parts workers Seasonal workers and employees of recreational businesses Farmworkers on small farms Computer professionals whose income exceeds $27.63 per hour Drivers, loaders, mechanics and helpers for motor carriers, provided the worker is engaged in activities that involve the safety of transportation of people or property in...

NLRB Upholds Worker’s Right to Display “BLM” on Work Apron

Agency Says Home Depot Violated Federal Labor Law by Firing Employee Pursuant to a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board, an employee’s right to “engage in concerted activities for mutual aid or protection” is protected under federal labor law. That includes a worker’s decision to protest racial discrimination in the workplace. The NLRB ruling involved a worker at Home Depot who drew the letters “BLM,” representing the social justice movement Black Lives Matter, on his work apron. The employee said that he did so both in response to actual racial discrimination in the workplace and in an effort to bring the wrongful conduct to the attention of management. The Rights of Workers to Improve Working Conditions Whether or not a worker may display social justice banners, decals or insignia on clothing or wear social justice themed clothing at work has been a significant issue since the Black Lives Matter movement came to national prominence after the death of George Floyd in May, 2020. Many employers, including American Airlines and Delta Airlines, have voluntarily committed to allowing employees to sport BLM and other social justice pins, insignia and clothing. Famously, Starbucks initially banned the practice, but later reversed its position, even going so far as providing 250,000 BLM tee shirts to its employees. In its ruling, the NLRB cited the “well-established” rule “that workers have the right to join together to improve their working conditions.” The board found protesting racial discrimination on the job to constitute an attempt to improve working conditions. The board also held that employees have such a right regardless of whether they belong to a...

How Avoiding Age Discrimination Can Be Good for the Workplace

Fair Treatment of Older Workers Can Improve Your Bottom Line Older employees typically offer benefits to a company, but those benefits come at a cost. Most long-term employees have higher pay rates and they tend to have more health problems. As a consequence, many employers may lean, intentionally or involuntarily, toward hiring younger workers and squeezing out older employees. That’s a practice that can be fraught with peril. Here are some of the reasons it can be to your benefit to be intentional in your employment practices as they relate to the age of your workers. Defending an Age Discrimination Lawsuit Can Be Costly The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) provides certain protections for Americans over the age of 40. Like other anti-discrimination statutes, it typically falls under the purview of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Historically, though, the EEOC has focused more of its efforts on other types of discrimination, but industry watchdogs say that is changing. They say that older workers are far more savvy today than they were 20-30 years ago, and are far more willing to take legal action to protect their rights. Age Discrimination Sends the Wrong Message to Younger Employees Experts also say that policies and practices that either overtly or unintentionally favor younger workers over seasoned employees send a message to the younger workers that their value will decrease as they get older. As a consequence, those younger workers have little sense of commitment or loyalty. That in turn translates to less motivation to be productive, as they see themselves being replaced by younger workers when they get closer...

New York City Says Job Search Websites Violate Pay Transparency Laws

City Commission on Human Rights Files Complaints to Ensure Compliance In 2022, New York City passed a law making it an “unlawful discriminatory practice” under the city’s Human Rights Law for employers to post or advertise any job or employment opportunity without including the expected salary range in the advertisement. Any such advertisement must clearly state the lowest and highest pay rates the employer in good faith expects to pay at the time the advertisement is posted. The New York City pay transparency law echoes a legislative trend that started gradually a few years ago, but has gained significant traction over the past three to four years. There are now pay transparency laws that apply to contractors and subcontractors on federal job. In 2023, the state of New York joined California, Rhode Island, Illinois, Washington and Hawaii in enacting statewide pay transparency laws. Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, DC are poised to add similar legislation in 2024. In 2023, the Commission on Human Rights cited more than 30 employers for alleged violation of the law, including some prominent online job forums, such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com. Thus far, New York City officials have not levied fines against any of the infringing companies, seeking instead to try to bring them into compliance. Spokespersons for the job search websites say they often receive postings that do not include the required language to comply with the pay transparency laws. In the past, many of the online job search sites would estimate pay ranges in an attempt to comply. Industry officials say that practice has generally been abandoned. In addition, most online...

The Scope of Our Practice at the Law Offices of Stephen D. Hans & Associates

Employment Law Attorneys with More than Four Decades of Experience | Advocating for Owners and Management at Small and Mid-Sized Businesses throughout the New York City Metropolitan Area At the law office of Stephen D. Hans & Associates, located in Long Island City, we have provided comprehensive employment and labor law counsel to small and mid-sized companies in and around New York City and its five boroughs since 1977. We understand the challenges that businesses face every day and we’ll help you take proactive measures to minimize the risk of legal controversies. In our comprehensive employment and labor law practice, we handle: The defense of any allegations of workplace discrimination or harassment All matters related to whistleblower or workplace retaliation claims, including any litigation arising out of such allegations All issues related to compliance with wage and hour laws, including any litigation arising out of employee disputes All proceedings, hearings, meetings or interactions with U.S. or New York state departments of labor Any union or collective bargaining controversies, including the negotiation and implementation of collective bargaining agreements, as well as union grievances and arbitration proceedings We counsel and advise businesses on a broad range of employment and labor law concerns, such as: Employment and severance agreements—We will negotiate, draft and review all contracts with employees, including potential severance agreements Human resources compliance—We can conduct a human resources audit, make recommendations for compliance and prepare all necessary documents or manuals to minimize any potential human resources compliance issues We can advise you on a broad range of employment law issues, from FMLA concerns to workplace safety to compliance with a...