New York City Faces Lawsuit for Trying to Enforce Menu Labeling Law

Although the federal menu labeling law was passed as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, it has been stopped from going into effect several times. It was originally going to become effective in 2016. When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) postponed menu labeling for a year in May 2017, the new date for it to go into effect was established as May 7, 2018. Despite the federal delay, Restaurant.org reported that the New York City government intended to go ahead and enforce the labeling law anyway, and enforcement would begin on August 21, 2017. However, the Restaurant Law Center along with the Food Marketing Institute, National Association of Convenience Stores and New York Association of Convenience Stores filed a lawsuit against NYC. They alleged that the city was in violation of federal law and was attempting to preempt federal governance. Details of the Federal Menu Labeling Law The menu labeling law requires establishments, which are part of a chain with 20 or more locations and which do business under the same name and basically offer the same menu items, to provide calorie and nutritional information for standard menu items. This requirement applies to self-service food and food on display. Consumers must be given the information in a “direct and accessible manner to enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices.” (FDA on food labeling) Some foods are delivered to restaurant chains as completed products and already contain calories and other nutritional information in the packaging. Other foods require nutritional analysis and lab testing, which can incur expenses for the restaurant and other establishment chains. This law...

Should You Have an Arbitration Clause in Your Employment Contract?

There is a reason that arbitration has gained a foothold in business disputes over the past 20 years, whether between employees and employers or between businesses. The Advantages of Arbitration Arbitration offers business owners advantages as a means of dispute resolution including the following: Lower costs. Generally, arbitration is less expensive than litigation. Faster resolutions. Nolo reports that a recent study done by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services that the average time for an arbitrated case to resolve is 475 days from filing. In contrast, the average litigated case takes 18 months to three years. Scheduling flexibility. Flexibility exists to schedule arbitration, such as during weekends or evenings, if necessary. Less formal rules of procedure than in litigation. Arbitration is not subject to the strict rules of evidence and procedure that a trial involves. It can help parties avoids delays, the long drawn out discovery and other tactics that drag out trials. Privacy. Typically, parties can keep matters private, which is advantageous for companies that want to avoid bad publicity. Two Recent Fox News Cases Where Employers Fought for Arbitration The New York Law Journal  reported that in the recent lawsuit of July 2016 where News Anchor Gretchen Carlson sued former Fox News Chairman, Roger Ailes, she tried to avoid mandatory arbitration by only suing Ailes and not Fox News. As it turned out, the case settled outside of court for $20 million before the court ruled on Ailes’ petition to arbitrate. In August 2016, former Fox News Anchor Andrea Tantaros sued Ailes for sexual discrimination, and Fox News filed to compel arbitration. In this case, a judge...

NYC New Job Salary History Law: Keeping Your Hiring Practices Legal

A New York City job salary history law was recently passed, which goes into effect in October 2017. Business owners should be aware of this fact and ensure they keep their hiring practices in lockstep with the new change. CNN Money  reported that employers no longer are allowed to ask prospective job candidates about their previous salaries. According to Mayor De Blasio, the law hopes to lessen the gender pay gap that exists in salaries. At the signing ceremony, the mayor said, “This is about fixing a broken history. This is about overcoming years and years of discrimination that held people back.” Why Job Salary History Questions Tend to Promote Unequal Pay When a business bases its pay on previous salary history and the history is already unequal pay, it simply perpetuates the inequality. This change speaks to the U.S. Census fact that in 2015, for every dollar men earned, women in comparable positions earned 79.6 cents. What Changes Will Employers Have to Make? They must eliminate any questions on job applications that ask about previous salary. They must train hiring managers to refrain from asking about job salary history and refocus the hiring interview on salary expectations instead. To keep the hiring practice uniform, it’s possible that New York companies with offices in other cities may incorporate the change there as well. New York Is Not Alone in This Change According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over 20 other states are also considering passing similar laws that would prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s pay history. At a federal level, The Paycheck Fairness Act is...

New York FIFA — The Freelance Isn’t Free Act

What does FIFA mean for business owners? Small business owners in New York City already are under a lot of regulations, but even so, another one has been added to the list — FiFA, The Freelance Isn’t Free Act. The act passed in the fall of 2016 and went into effect on May 15, 2017. New York City is the first city in the nation to have this kind of law. FIFA Guidelines that Business Owners Must Abide By The NYC.gov site explains the responsibilities for business owners as outlined in the law. Hiring Party Definition A business other than a government entity that hires a freelancer is a hiring party. Freelance Workers Any individual that a business owner hires or retains as an independent contractor to provide services in exchange for compensation is a freelance worker. A few common examples are home contracting and repair, photographers, graphic and web designers and translators. You may want to consult with an employment defense lawyer if you have questions as to whether someone working for your business meets the legal definition of an independent contractor/freelance worker. Written Contracts All work that is done for $800 or more within a 120-day period must have a written contract. You and the freelance worker must both keep copies of the contract. Timely Payment You must pay the freelance worker for all completed work on or before the date stated in the contract. If the contract does not state a payment date, then payment is due within 30 days after the freelancer finishes the work. Legal Recourse A freelance worker has the legal right to...

Wal-Mart’s Alleged Pregnancy Discrimination Makes the Headlines

  A proposed lawsuit against Wal-Mart is a class action that claims the company has discriminated against pregnant workers by denying requests to restrict heavy lifting, making them climb on ladders and making them do other potentially harmful tasks. Details about the Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit According to Reuters two claimants, Otisha Woolbright and Talisha Borders, filed the lawsuit in a federal court in Illinois. The class would include 20,000 women and before the company’s policy changed, an estimated 50,000 women. The lawsuit is based on the American Disabilities Act (ADA), and the argument is that Wal-Mart did not extend the same accommodations to pregnant women as it did to other disabled workers. In 2014, Wal-Mart changed its company policy and began treating pregnancy as a disability. A Wal-Mart spokesman stated that Wal-Mart has always abided by federal law and addressed pregnancy as a protected class. In a U.S. Supreme Court 2015 decision that involved the United Parcel Service, the court ruled that employers must treat pregnant women the same as other workers with disabilities or medical conditions. The claimants’ lawyers’ argue that the Wal-Mart policy did not adequately address the issue. Case Details about the Claimants Otisha Woolbright claimed when she worked in a Florida Wal-Mart, her manager told her that pregnancy was not an excuse to get out of doing heavy lifting. She claims that after she injured herself living trays that weighed as much as 50 pounds and after she asked further about the company’s pregnancy policies, the store fired her. Tallish Borders worked at an Illinois Wal-Mart. She claims she was reprimanded for having...