Articles Posted in Retaliation

Our New York wage and hour attorneys strive to assist workers who’ve experienced grievous harms, like harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. We also hope to educate the broader public about some of the shameful practices that contribute to worker misery and inequality.

To wit, a recent story in the New York Times caught our eye and kindled our ire.

Apparently, fast food restaurants around the country, such as Jimmy John’s, have been asking their sandwich shop workers to sign “non-compete” clauses. If you’re not familiar with these clauses, they are agreements that prevent employees from seeking work at competitive businesses within a certain timeframe.

The number of Americans dissatisfied with one or more aspects of their jobs is shocking, as New York employment attorneys are well aware. According to a study reported in the New York Times, half or more of U.S. workers reported fundamental limitations to their ability to think creatively, focus on individual tasks, perform enjoyable work, and find meaning in their professions.

Those employees reporting high satisfaction levels at work attributed their sense of fulfillment to several factors, including:


• Breaks.
Taking a break every 90 minutes can yield up to 30 percent higher focus levels than for those who take one or fewer breaks per day. It can also result in 50 percent higher creativity and 46 percent greater feelings of health or wellbeing. Employers who encourage their employees to take breaks also enjoy higher retention rates.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women reports that up to 94 percent of women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment in many forms, from catcalls to assaults.

A decree released last week by Adly Mansour, the outgoing president of Egypt, outlaws sexual harassment. This law, an amendment to the previous penal code that imposed no punishments on offenders, imposes jail sentences of 6 months to five years and fines up to $700 for one offense.

More severe sentences apply when offenders repeat the crime, abuse positions of power, or use weapons to sexually harass others.

The mainstream media is awash with stories and editorials about minimum wage laws.

Perhaps we’re nearing tipping point — both common folk and politicians are realizing that our arcane minimum wage loss rules need to be up-leveled. People who labor hard should get fair compensation, and wages should keep up with inflation, at a minimum.

Some very interesting noises on this subject have been coming out of the Department of Labor (DOL). On June 12, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division announced that it will go forward with something called a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (NPRM), designed to hike up the minimum wage for federally contracted employees to $10.10 per hour to comply with President Obama’s Executive Order 13653.

What’s the definition of an “excessive” verdict in a sexual harassment or wage & hour case?

$10 million? $10 quadrillion? How about… $2 undecillion?

The Joseph & Kirschenbaum New York wage and hour and sexual harassment blog has covered pretty egregious cases over the years. And our team has fought and won on behalf of many thousands of employees subjected to awful workplace conditions ranging from barbaric harassment to slow, chafing “nickel and diming.” However, like all sensible people, we believe that damages should fit the bill. Damages should be appropriate — not wildly excessive, and certainly not impossible excessively. Our goal is the maximum possible recovery for each and every client, but outrageous demands result in lost credibilty and a lower or at best delayed recovery.

Many Americans don’t think “that much” about sexual harassment these days. For Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, even the term “sexual harassment” may sound hoary — recalling the culture war days of the early 1990s and bringing to mind nostalgic images of Nirvana concerts, the falling Berlin Wall and the Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential election.

However, sexual harassment is alive and well in many American workplaces, and it still exacts a tremendous psychological toll on the women and men who experience it. Statistics suggest that this behavior is still way-unreported. Many female and male employees who suffer through it also fall victims to employment problems like overtime violations, tip pool violations, discrimination and retaliation. They fall silent because they don’t understand their rights or know how to protect them in the judicial system.

Nevertheless, American workers definitely have it better than workers in other parts of the world — parts of the world like Egypt. Consider a shocking 2013 United Nations report, “Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women,” which found that the vast, vast majority of the female population in Egypt – 99.3 percent! – claim to have suffered sexual harassment.

In January, a District Judge denied a motion to dismiss claims for relief in an a major sexual harassment and wage and hour case. Let’s take a quick look at the background of this case and extract a few lessons for you, if you’ve experienced sexual harassment, gender discrimination, or other unfair treatment at your workplace.

According to the allegations in this case, the defendant male worked as an IT supervisor. A female IT associate started working for the firm. The supervisor invited her to go to a bar after work hours. After accepting this invitation, she told her supervisor that she had been a victim of domestic violence that had left her feeling awful and physically and emotionally traumatized.

Once they were at the bar, the interactions took a bizarre turn, according to the complainant’s allegations.

Wage and hour cases are not the sole province of the U.S. Last year, nearly 200 migrant laborers from Nepal died in the country of Qatar while working on construction projects in that country. To protect the rights and welfare of migrant employees, the International Labor Organization, together with officials in Qatar, constructed a 50-page document. These guidelines aim to protect migrants working on creating the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in Qatar.

FIFA, the world governing body for the sport of football, had demanded that Qatar reform its working practices. However, independent organizations, such as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), say that the new proposed guidelines will fall far short of what’s needed. Qatar uses an employment system known as “kefala,” that gives sponsor companies huge rights over the lives of migrant workers. For instance, workers cannot get an exit visa from Qatar without first getting permission from their employers.

Qatar’s so-called “World Cup Supreme Committee” has tried to upgrade the welfare standards for workers, who include contractors and subcontractors working on the World Cup stadium. The committee argues that the new guidelines will be “robustly and effectively monitored and enforced for the benefits of all workers.”

26 year-old Lihuan Wang recently filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss at Phoenix Satellite Television’s New York Bureau. Wang said that, when she served as an unpaid intern for the Bureau back in 2010, her supervisor “grabbed her butt and tried to kiss her.” A Manhattan Federal Court Judge, Kevin Castel, put a damper on her quest for justice. A local New York paper summarized his decision: “the judge said that, since unpaid interns are not technically employees, they cannot sue for sexual harassment.

Or, as the New York Post put it: “no paycheck, no benefits – and no protection from creeps.” After Castel’s ruling on October 3rd, Wang’s attorney expressed outrage and consternation: “this is terrible … there is no logical reason to allow an intern who is young and vulnerable to be sexual harassed.”

Upon learning of this loophole, Gale Brewer, a city councilman from Manhattan, said that she will put forward legislation to prevent this kind of human rights issue in the future. Both Washington D.C. and Oregon have amended their human rights laws accordingly. Wang was so disturbed by what happened that she left United States to go back to her native China. But her lawsuit will go forward on different charges. She contends that the Television Bureau did not hire for a paid position as retaliation for her turning down her boss’s advances.

The thought of calling a New York employment law attorney may fill you with anxiety or dread, for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. Even though your boss harassed you — or a client or coworker said hurtful racially or sexually inappropriate comments — you’re worried. What will happen if/when you complain? Will you lose your job? Will things get better… or worse?

Subconscious or unconscious resistance can prevent many victims from getting the help they need. Let us take a look at 4 common rationales people use to defer taking action:

1. “The situation isn’t that bad – it’s going to get better.”