It is unlawful to discriminate against any individual in the workplace because of a person’s age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status or domestic violence victim status. This prohibition against discrimination extends to hiring and terminating individuals or to otherwise discriminating against any individual in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Public and private sector employees, union and non-union employees, managerial and line staff all enjoy the protections of our Local, State and Federal anti-discrimination statutes.
If you believe you have been treated differently because of your age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status or domestic violence victim status, please contact our office today for a free consultation.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT/HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Sexual harassment is not about sex or sexual attraction, it’s generally about power: the ability to hire, fire, make performance evaluations, affect the climate of someone’s work and interfere with work performance. Recipients of harassment are most often those who have less power in the organization by virtue of their job, tenure, or position in the hierarchy. Sexual harassment is unwelcome and can include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Some examples of Sexually Harassing Behavior include:
- VERBAL HARASSMENT OR ABUSE
- SUBTLE PRESSURE FOR SEXUAL ACTIVITY
- SEXIST REMARKS ABOUT ANOTHER’S CLOTHING, BODY OR SEXUAL ACTIVITIES
- UNNECESSARY TOUCHING
- LEERING/STARING AT SOMEONE’S BODY
- REQUESTING SEXUAL FAVORS
- UNWANTED SEXUAL ADVANCES
- THE DISPLAY OR VIEWING OF PORNOGRAPHY IN THE WORKPLACE
The same laws that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace also protect employees against retaliation for opposing or complaining about inappropriate conduct. All inquires to our office and consultations are strictly confidential. If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contact our office today for a free consultation.
Patricia M. Mulligan, Esq. has successfully negotiated hundreds of Employment Agreements for senior executives and workplace professionals in myriad industries, including finance, fashion and publishing. Employment Agreements set not only an employee's compensation and benefits, but often bind employees to post-employment restrictive covenants limiting their ability to work for competitors for agreed upon periods of time following the end of the employment relationship. Ensuring that these provisions are fairly balanced and comport with New York law is critical to avoid unnecessary litigation later. Employment Agreements can also set the terms for an employee's eventual separation from employment, providing for severance and related benefits upon termination of the employment relationship. These terms, negotiated at the dawn of a new relationship, provide the employee a greater sense of economic well-being and security, which, in turn, benefits all parties.
Ms. Mulligan will examine the terms and conditions of your Employment Agreement, provide advice and, when appropriate, will negotiate with the Employer to improve the terms and conditions offered and to ensure that the agreement is fair and balanced.
A level playing field is a good start to any employment relationship. Attorney review of your Employment Agreement is an investment in your future and a sound business decision.
Often, when employment relationships end, an employer will offer the terminated employee a severance or separation agreement in exchange for, among other things, that employee's promise not to sue the Company. These Severance Agreements contain many critical terms, providing not only for severance and/or related benefits, but may also bind an employee to a non-compete covenant, thus restricting the former employee's ability to work in the same industry or geographic area. Such severance or separation agreements should be reviewed carefully before signing, as they are binding and may be enforced in court. Ms. Mulligan has reviewed hundreds of proposed Severance Agreements and has often successfully negotiated on behalf of her clients to secure enhanced severance and related benefits and to strike or limit overreaching non-competition clauses. In this context, Ms. Mulligan has also successfully negotiated with Companies to include payment of pro-rata bonuses and other incentive compensation as a term of the employee's severance or separation agreement. Termination of an employment relationship is a stressful event. Ms. Mulligan is an experienced Labor and Employment attorney who will work to ensure that your legal needs are met, while you manage your personal and professional future.
Have you been terminated from your position? If so, many Employers have severance policies that provide severance and related benefits depending on the circumstances of your termination, while other Employers may offer severance benefits in the absence of a policy in exchange for an Employee's release of his or her right to sue the Company. Moreover, if an Employee believes that unlawful employment discrimination was the reason for the termination; for example, because of a pregnancy or due to an employee's need for medical leave to treat a serious health condition, then the value of the release being provided to the Company may be greater. Review and evaluation of potential claims will allow an Employee to make informed decisions about the Company's offer of severance benefits and may lead to the attorney negotiating to increase the benefits offered given the Employee's circumstances.
In addition, during such a review, an attorney is able to analyze whether an Employee was paid properly under applicable labor laws, including the payment of overtime wages.
Termination of employment is a major life event with many ramifications. Ms. Mulligan will review your individual circumstances and offer advice on the myriad issues that need to be examined during this challenging time.
Ms. Mulligan offers a free consultation that will help you understand how best to proceed in these difficult and stressful times. Email or call today.
Disciplinary Hearings & Arbitrations
Patricia M. Mulligan has handled disciplinary hearings for public and private sector employees for over two (2) decades, defending New York City Police and Correction personnel, New York City Housing & Transit Authority employees, Westchester County employees, as well individual members of the Civil Service Employees Association and individual members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Ms. Mulligan has also handled disciplinary matters involving employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Postal Service and Veterans Administration. If you are a member of the civil service, or work under a collective bargaining agreement, you may have certain rights that entitle you to a hearing before your employer can impose final discipline for alleged workplace misconduct. Patricia M. Mulligan, Esq. will review your collective bargaining agreement, ascertain your rights and vigorously defend you if you are brought up on disciplinary charges in the workplace. A thorough defense is your only defense.
Misclassification of Workers as Independent Contractors
If you work for a Company that controls the manner in which your work is done, decides your pay rate, sets your hours, requires that you perform your work on Company property, during 'regular' business hours, reviews your work, and/or imposes other indicia of "supervision and control", you may have been misclassified as an Independent Contractor, rather than an employee.
In cases of misclassification, workers are denied benefits to which they are otherwise entitled, including, in some instances, health and retirement benefits, the payment of overtime wages for hours worked in excess of a forty hour workweek, and the benefits of a minimum wage.
Misclassified workers, otherwise unaware of their rights under applicable Federal and State laws, often fail to seek unemployment insurance benefits upon termination of the working relationship and/or worker's compensation benefits in the event of a workplace injury.
Workers misclassified as Independent Contractors are also incorrectly led to believe that they are not protected by Federal and State laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
If you suspect that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, contact Ms. Mulligan, who will provide a free consultation, analyze your specific facts and circumstances and advise you of your legal rights and options, as applicable.
Failure to Pay Overtime Wages
Federal and State labor laws require the payment of overtime wages for any hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours in any workweek for all "non-exempt" employees. Non-exempt employees comprise most of the workforce.
Many employers misclassify employees as "exempt" and pay them a salary, rather than on an hourly basis. In many instances, this misclassification means that non-exempt workers are denied the payment of overtime wages, at the rate of one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours in any workweek.
Employees who are paid a salary when they should otherwise be paid as non-exempt hourly workers may be entitled to unpaid overtime wages, reaching as far back as six (6) years under applicable New York State Labor Law. In addition to the unpaid overtime wages due under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State Labor Law, employees may also be entitled to liquidated damages (double damages), interest and attorneys fees.
As noted above, most employees are non-exempt workers, entitled to overtime wages for any hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours in any workweek. The exemptions to this mandate are limited and most commonly include white-collar exemptions for Administrative, Executive and Professional employees, computer professionals and outside sales employees. [Clerical workers, secretaries, administrative assistants, etc. do not fall within the Administrative exemption and are, generally, non-exempt employees entitled to overtime pay].
If you believe you may have been denied overtime wages to which you were otherwise entitled, contact Ms. Mulligan for a free consultation. Ms. Mulligan will review the facts and circumstances of your employment and advise you of your legal rights and options, as applicable.