Stephen Hans Blog by cjleclaire
Employment and Labor Law Attorneys
Jan 16, 2013 | 91934 views | 0 0 comments | 91 91 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Dominoes Pizza Sued for Wage and Hour Violations
by cjleclaire
Jun 14, 2016 | 2172 views | 0 0 comments | 92 92 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Recently New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza for underpaying staff.

According to Legal Reader, last year the Attorney General’s Office settled for $1.5 million with 12 Domino’s franchisees found to be underpaying workers. This is the second lawsuit the Attorney General has brought against Dominoes Pizza, and the current lawsuit includes the following allegations:

  • Failure to pay overtime
  • Failure to reimburse delivery staff for gas miles
  • Failure to reimburse delivery staff for wear and tear on bicycles

Are Wage and Hour Violations the Franchisee’s or Franchisor’s Liability?

The Dominoes Pizza parent company (franchisor) argues that wage and hour violations are the individual franchise owner’s (franchisee) liability and not the Dominoes parent company’s liability. Yet, the Attorney General names both as parties in the case. Typically wage and hour lawsuits exclude franchisors and only target franchisees. However, a landmark case where the National Labor Relations Board is suing McDonald’s may set a precedent that makes franchisors jointly liable for a franchisee’s violations.

Dominoes claimed that for more than three years it had collaborated with franchisees to bring them into compliance with wage and hour laws but that it is not obligated to do so.

Details of the Lawsuit

Because the parent company instructs franchisees to use its computerized payroll system, Schneiderman alleges that the parent company bares equal liability for underpaying workers.

He also stated that his office discovered that Dominoes Pizza headquarters was extensively involved in with franchises and how they operated and actually caused many of the pay violations.

Rely on Experienced Legal Counsel

Small and large businesses alike should consult with experienced legal counsel to limit liability and ensure compliance with labor and employment laws.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our Queens, NYC employment defense firm brings decades of legal experience to the table. We can help you protect your rights and put policies in place to avoid liability.

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Restaurants Can Throw Dog Lovers a Bone
by cjleclaire
May 24, 2016 | 4883 views | 0 0 comments | 207 207 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

NYC Employment Defense Attorney

“I’m so pleased that the city Department of Health threw dog lovers a bone,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) was quoted as saying by The New York Daily News. She sponsored the NYC law that allows dining with dogs.

Restaurant owners already have many regulations to abide by and under the previous law, restaurants were required to verify the dog owner’s licensing and vaccination documents before allowing the dog owner and dog in outdoor restaurant areas. Despite the fact that laws allowed dogs in outdoor areas, this strict requirement kept dog lovers away.

As a restaurant owner, did you know…?

Under new changes in the law, now restaurants simply must post signs that dogs accompanying their owners must be licensed and vaccinated for rabies.

The objective of the legal change was to create a balance that gave dog lovers greater freedoms and still protected other diners at the same time. Restaurant owners are still obligated by law to keep the outdoor dining area separate from pedestrians and dogs on the sidewalk. Also, dogs cannot touch dining table surfaces or obstruct aisle space.

It’s difficult to keep up with regulatory and legal changes. This change is good news for restaurants that allow dogs because it will help them attract more business.

Anymore, the responsibilities of running a business include being legally savvy to protect your rights and interests. Through effective legal guidance, our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates can keep you informed and help you protect your rights as a business owner.

 
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EEOC Alleges Discrimination Based on Applications Requiring Medical History
by cjleclaire
May 11, 2016 | 5958 views | 0 0 comments | 211 211 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Queens, New York City Employment Defense Firm

As employers, when you ask for medical information on a job application, you raise a red flag for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and set yourself up for a lawsuit. No matter how reasonable it seems to ask an applicant about medical history, simply refrain from doing it.

EEOC vs. Grisham Farm Products

Recently the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Grisham Farm Products. The company required applicants to fill out three pages of medical history. An applicant refused to fill out the information recently and the company told him he would not be considered for the job. He had a disability and the health information requirement on an application violates the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also violates the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), according the EEOC.

Businesses Targeted for ADA Violations

According to the National Law Review, the EEOC is targeting businesses that ask for medical history on job applications.

The EEOC fact sheet indicates it has gone after 200 businesses since 2011 that the EEOC alleges were in violation of the ADA. Lawsuits involved employees with the following types of disabilities:

  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Psychiatric Disabilities
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • Diabetes
  • Renal Failure

Large, nationwide businesses have been sued, including:

  • Walgreen
  • Kmart
  • UPS
  • AutoZone
  • Dillard’s
  • United Airlines
  • Verizon Maryland
  • Dollar General
  • Papa John’s
  • Target

If you have questions about whether or not you may be liable because you failed to hire a disabled job applicant or have questions about how to deal with issues regarding a disabled worker, get a legal opinion.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys can provide you with sound legal guidance and help you stay in compliance with state and federal laws.

 

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Restaurants Weigh in on Replacing Tipping with Service Charges
by cjleclaire
Apr 19, 2016 | 7503 views | 0 0 comments | 300 300 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 | 12109 views | 0 0 comments | 382 382 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 | 11950 views | 1 1 comments | 388 388 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
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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 | 11926 views | 0 0 comments | 412 412 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 | 9468 views | 0 0 comments | 317 317 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 | 9553 views | 0 0 comments | 332 332 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 | 10100 views | 0 0 comments | 346 346 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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