Stephen Hans Blog by cjleclaire
Employment and Labor Law Attorneys
Jan 16, 2013 | 109885 views | 0 0 comments | 100 100 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Restaurants Weigh in on Replacing Tipping with Service Charges
by cjleclaire
Apr 19, 2016 | 11052 views | 0 0 comments | 323 323 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Queens New York Employment Defense Attorneys

Human Resource Consulting Law Firm

Various restaurants across the country are in the process of changing tipping into service charges. The Seattle Eater published an article about a restaurant called Mollusk that eliminated tipping and replaced it with a 20 percent service charge. However, after implementing the change, this restaurant and brewery struggled.

The Chef/Owner of the business said he split the service charge equally between kitchen employees and front-house employees, who deal directly with customers. Kitchen employees’ wages increased from about $15 to $18 per hour. However, the loss in customers resulted in servers, bartenders and hosts making considerably less money.

To make up for income loss, restaurant management cut staff and dropped its lunch menu service in January. The owner had to reinstate tipping and also increased the restaurant’s menu prices by 10 percent to help kitchen staff earn higher wages. Fortunately, the neighborhood is a fast-growing area, and the restaurant hopes to increase its business soon based on population increases.

Is the service charge model a failure business-wise?

It depends on restaurant management, the location and the extent that customers prefer tipping. The Mollusk wants to go back to the service charge model after it gets the business boost it needs right now.

The News Tribune reports that Indochina Asian Dining Lounge in Tacoma, WA implemented an 18 percent service charge in June 2015. As of January 2016, the change was successful and servers average $20 to $25 per hour while kitchen staff earn between $15 and $20.

Another restaurant owner in Philadelphia says he is doing well with the service charge model. According to Second Nexus, William Street Common’s owner says he’s hitting numbers that other restaurants get with the tipping model. Downfalls of tipping involve people who tip based on:

  • How fast the food arrives
  • Whether the restaurant runs out of a particular dish
  • Whether the servers were there when the customer wanted them to be

These poor management decisions shouldn’t influence servers’ tips.

Even so, in many regions Americans prefer tipping compared to service charges.

Are you thinking about implementing service charges instead of tipping in your restaurant business? We recommend you get a legal opinion first.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys routinely consult with business owners to help them comply with state and federal laws. Doing business in today’s world often requires reliable legal guidance.

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University Policies to Deal with Sexual Harassment Issues
by cjleclaire
Mar 01, 2016 | 15322 views | 0 0 comments | 403 403 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Recently, a sexual harassment case involving a Chicago professor became high profile in the news. While you can view the case from the perspective of the victim and the alleged abuser, there is also the viewpoint of educational institutions to consider. What preventative actions can they take to protect themselves against lawsuits?

The New York Times  reported that a well-known molecular biologist, who was a professor at the University of Chicago resigned after the university recommended he be fired. The administration based the termination recommendation on violations of the college’s sexual misconduct policy. Professor Jason Lieb allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward several female graduate students during an off campus retreat attended by graduate students and several faculty members. As a result of the allegations, Lieb resigned.

An incident of sexual misconduct also arose when Lieb worked at the University of North Carolina. However, an investigation at that time revealed no evidence to support the claim. When Lieb left the University of North Carolina and Princeton interviewed him for a position, Lieb gave permission for Princeton staff to examine his UNC personnel file. The University of Chicago also examined his UNC personnel file and found no evidence that proved him guilty of the allegation. Consequently, the Chicago department of human genetics voted unanimously to hire him. Weighing the responsibility to protect sexual harassment victims versus false sexual harassment allegations can be difficult.

Obviously, background checks are vital for educational institutions when hiring personnel. Also, these types of incidents bring up questions about whether the standards universities currently use to evaluate candidates during the hiring process are adequate.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, we work with businesses and institutions to help you put policies in place that protect you against sexual harassment and other discrimination liability.

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What Else You, as an Employer, Should Know About Telephone Calls
by cjleclaire
Feb 16, 2016 | 14812 views | 1 1 comments | 408 408 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Author: Stephen D. Hans & Associates

Many employees today wear headsets for phone conversations because it frees their hands to type and check facts on the computer. While their headsets are still on, employees often speak with each other as well. The question arises, can employers monitor their employees’ conversations? The answer is yes, in the same way an employer can monitor employees’ conversations with clients or customers. However, if the headset has a mute button, then an employee can put the headset on mute when not using the telephone.

Other legal ways for employers to monitor phone activity is through a register, which is a device that keeps a record of numbers dialed and the amount of time spent on each call. These records can help employers analyze call times or calls into certain areas with sales or other phone activities for effectiveness. For example, is there a correlation between longer calls and sales? Or is the company making a lot of sales in a particular demographic or location?

Private Rights Clearinghouse indicates that as an employer, you may run into employees who believe you are using the register unfairly to evaluate their efficiency. Employees may accuse you of not taking into account their quality of performance. So, it is important to know your legal rights as an employer and ensure you also have methods in place to evaluate an employee’s performance fairly.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, we often answer questions like these, and of course, each situation has its own unique and specific concerns. For this reason, if you run into problems, you should schedule a consultation so you can get a legal opinion that takes all the facts into consideration.

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Jaclyn Graham
February 22, 2016
I have not much experience about office call but just to know about call center's call that purpose to generate sale or provide service.

What About Your Rights as an Employer to Monitor an Employee’s Social Media Accounts?
by cjleclaire
Feb 10, 2016 | 14801 views | 0 0 comments | 433 433 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

While in some states employers are able to establish company policies that limit what employees can post about employers, New York’s laws protect the employee’s privacy rights.

First of all, New York State law prohibits you from asking employees for the username or password to their social media accounts. It also prohibits accessing these accounts through other electronic means, which protects employees’ privacy regarding these accounts. The New York State Privacy Protection and Internet Safety Act determines when and how online personal and private information can be destroyed and establishes responsibilities and enforcement.

(See the National Conference of State Legislatures )

In general, you can’t discipline an employee for something posted about your company on the internet unless you can prove that the post resulted in damages.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has general policies in place advising employers not to establish rules that prevent employees from discussing wages or working conditions with each other. However, if an employee is critical of the company and complaints are not in relation to group activities among employees, then the employee is probably liable. Situations vary depending on the facts involved.

If you’re concerned that an employee is posting opinions on Facebook or some other social media outlet that is damaging your company’s reputation or resulting in lost income, consult with one of our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates

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Is It Legal to Monitor Your Employees’ Phone Calls?
by cjleclaire
Feb 10, 2016 | 12129 views | 0 0 comments | 333 333 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

As an employer, you may wonder where to draw the lines as far as monitoring employees’ phone calls at work. Certainly for quality control purposes, it makes sense to monitor calls with customers or clients. But how do laws limit what you can do?

If the call is made while in California and all parties are in California at the time, then CA state law requires you to inform parties when conversations are being recorded. Let’s say as a NY employer, you send a team of sales people to attend a conference in California. You would need to inform them that you’re monitoring calls based on CA state law.

According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, federal law under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act allows companies to monitor business-related calls without informing about monitoring.

What about personal calls? This is where federal case laws places limitations. Based on the outcome of Watkins v. L.M. Berry & Co., if you know the employee is on a personal call, you must quit monitoring the call immediately. However, there is an exception. If you told your employees not to make personal calls from certain business phones, then employees making calls from those phones are at the risk of being monitored.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys routinely consult with business owners to help put company policies in place so they are in compliance with state and federal laws. Relying on trusted legal guidance is simply part of doing business in today’s world.

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Can You Ask Employees to Undergo Medical Screening and Ask About Medical History?
by cjleclaire
Jan 27, 2016 | 11925 views | 0 0 comments | 348 348 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

New York Employment Defense Attorney talks about Non Discrimination Act

Knowing what you can ask and must not ask employees or job applicants is vital for businesses. With all the information available on the internet today, gathering information may seem like the natural thing to do. However, there are lines you must not cross.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is a relatively recent ant-discrimination law. According to GINA, employers, employment agencies and labor organizations do not violate GINA when acquiring medical information about an employee’s disease or disorder that is not genetic information.

A recent settlement with the EEOC provides an example of what is considered a GINA violation. Joy Mining Machinery settled with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding a lawsuit where the company requested family medical history on its pre-placement form. The form asked employees whether they had a family medical history for “TB, Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy and Heart Disease.” While these questions are routine for doctors, not only are employers prohibited from asking for such medical history, they are also not allowed to purchase genetic information about applicants or employees except under narrow exceptions.

The agreement Joy Mining entered into as part of the settlement included considerable equitable relief and prohibition from unlawful retaliation. The company agreed not to inquire about medical genetic information, to train its management and HR employees regarding GINA, and the EEOC will monitor compliance with the settlement provisions.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys counsel company owners, their managers and HR personnel regarding GINA and other anti-discrimination laws. With legal issues, many gray areas exist, and getting questions answered so you follow good practices is important. Working with legal experts to take preventative measures helps you avoid the high costs of legal defense in lawsuits.

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What Does the 2016 Minimum Wage Hike Mean for You as an Employer?
by cjleclaire
Jan 19, 2016 | 12607 views | 0 0 comments | 361 361 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Stephen D. Hans

A minimum wage increase of $8.75 to $9.00 went into effect in New York on December 31, 2015. For employers, it obviously means you must pay higher wages to all employees who were receiving minimum wages. However, that’s not the only factor you must consider.

The New York Department of Labor released new posting required for the wage increase on December 31, 2015. GovDocs offers the posting as part of its New York Post Compliance Package

In fact, businesses must display posters not just for minimum wages. Other employment laws also require postings. Here is the complete list:

  • Minimum Wage Information
  • Discrimination
  • Laws Governing the Employment of Minors (Child Labor)
  • Time Allowed To Vote
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Deduction from Wages
  • Tip Appropriation
  • No Smoking
  • New York Correction Law Article 23-A

New York Correction Law Article 23-A is NY Law that prohibits employers from discriminating against persons who were convicted of one or more criminal offenses. You may not be aware of it, but if you deny employment to someone who was previously convicted of a crime, you must provide the person with a written statement at the time you deny the employment or license.

Let’s face it. In our society today, business owners must know about and comply with many laws and regulations just in order to run a business. It’s vital for you to address legal factors and work with an employment law attorney who can help you put measures in place. Failing to adhere to the law and stay in compliance with regulations can result in heavy fines.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys offer human resources consulting to keep you apprised of legal and regulatory requirements. We can explain the recent wage law changes and how it affects your business. Let us help you prevent lawsuits and regulatory hearings that threaten your business.

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Million Dollar Legal Mistakes by a Billion Dollar Company
by cjleclaire
Dec 10, 2015 | 14828 views | 0 0 comments | 436 436 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

by Stephen D. Hans | Dec 8, 2015 | Employment Defense Attorney

Even billion dollar companies can allow legal mistakes to occur and have it cost them millions of dollars. Such appears to be the case when executives at Giorgio Armani allegedly discriminated against the company’s own general counsel, Fabio Silva.

The NY Daily News reported that Silva began working as general counsel for Armani in October of 2014. The lawsuit brought by Silva claims that Armani’s CFO Thomas Chan repeatedly told Silva he didn’t trust Mexicans during a time that they were working on a deal with a Mexican vendor. A co-worker let Chan know that Silva was Mexican. After that, Silva says that Chan subjected him to “heightened scrutiny and unfounded criticism.” Silva filed a complaint with the company’s COO, Giorgio Fomari. However, Fomari took no actions to correct the discrimination except to tell Silva he erred by saying something in writing. When Silva asked for a raise in April based on an outstanding performance review, he says Fomari wouldn’t give him a raise because of the discrimination complaint. Of course, this is retaliation.

Later on, Silva told his bosses that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer, but explained it was operable, and minutes afterward, the company’s HR rep fired him. She said she thought it would be a good time to tell him that the company was terminating him. The reason given was that they didn’t feel they could trust him. Silva is a highly respected and experienced attorney in the fashion industry. He filed a $75 million lawsuit against Armani, which is being heard by the Manhattan Supreme Court.

Situations like this can be easily avoided when companies make it standard policy to train their employees (including top executives) in equal opportunity employment practices.

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates work with businesses to protect their rights and draw on more than two decades of legal experience. We help companies deal with employment issues and find resolutions to avoid full-blown lawsuits.
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Restaurant Industry: Several Restaurants Refusing to Serve Cops
by cjleclaire
Dec 01, 2015 | 13834 views | 1 1 comments | 378 378 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

When does a restaurant have the right to refuse service?

Recently, several restaurants refused to serve police officers. According to a New York Times article a Dunkin’ Donuts worker in West Hartford, Connecticut announced to a police officer standing in the back of the line that they didn’t serve cops there. It turned out to be a poor joke, and the manager and employee ran after the officer to apologize and offer him a free meal. However, an Arby’s manager in Pembroke Pines, Florida was fired after telling a police officer that an employee refused to serve him (also a poor joke). The article goes on to give other similar instances along with survey data that shows public views of the police are the lowest in 22 years. This is a result of the Black Lives Matter movement that sprang out of instances of police brutality.

From the viewpoint of discrimination, this is an interesting development. The number of protected classes have grown since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. We now have laws that prevent discrimination based on gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, military and other classifications.

The restaurant industry’s right to refuse service cannot be based on the fact that an individual belongs to any of these protected classes. Otherwise the owner may have discrimination lawsuits to deal with. The purpose of this right is for valid reasons, such as making individuals leave who are causing trouble, being disruptive, are improperly dressed (black tie dinners, no shoes or shirts, etc.) or who are not following the restaurant’s rules.

As an employer, if you have questions about your rights to refuse service, Stephen Hans & Associates will be glad to answer your questions. Our firm represents small business owners in discrimination, employment issues and labor disputes in regulatory actions.

Queens & New York City Employment Defense Attorney

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Maya Fielder
February 06, 2016
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Are Your Wages Equal for Men and Women?
by cjleclaire
Nov 19, 2015 | 9946 views | 0 0 comments | 246 246 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Queens & New York City Employment Defense Attorneys

Situations arise where an employee leaves and you must once hire or promote someone to fill their position. Based on skills, experience and the job description, employers offer a salary or wage for work being done as part of a position’s duties. As an employer, it is worth your time to review whether you provide equal pay to men and women who perform the same or comparable job functions.

Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a lawsuit against an oil company for sex based discrimination and paying a female employee a lower salary than her male predecessor.

The details of the case are that SOCI Petroleum/Santmyer Oil Company, Inc. (SOCI) hired Lori Bowerstock to work in human resources in 2006 in Wooster, Ohio. When the current human resources manager’s employment ended in 2009, Bowerstock assumed his function and began performing his functions. The EEOC’s complaint alleges that the company allowed derogatory, sex-based comments against women in general and devalued their work performances and capabilities. SOCI paid Bowerstock less compensation than her male predecessor for doing the same work.

In this case, the EEOC alleges the company violated the Equal Pay Act of 1964 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act The EEOC first sought to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process. After failing to reach a settlement, the EEOC is now pursuing permanent injunctive relief to prevent SOCI from discriminating through unequal pay to women, to enforce equal employment opportunities for women, and to obtain lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages.

Working closely with an experienced employment litigation lawyer can help you put sound policies in place that avoid discrimination and unequal pay issues. Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates have successfully defended employers’ rights in litigation and settlement negotiations for more than two decades.


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