Stephen Hans Blog by cjleclaire
Employment and Labor Law Attorneys
Jan 16, 2013 | 35276 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Is the Job Applicant’s Age a Factor You Consider When Hiring?
by cjleclaire
Jul 29, 2015 | 180 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Author: Stephen Hans

As a business owner, have you heard your manager claim that someone is too old to hire for a particular job? Or, have there been discussions that a younger person would be a better candidate for any number of reasons?

This line of thinking is something to watch out for because it very well may fall under age discrimination and put you at risk for an employment dispute or lawsuit.

Recently, the largest rent-a-car company in the nation, Enterprise Holdings Inc. settled a claim against its subsidiary Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Los Angeles. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed charges alleging that the Los Angeles location in Burbank, California denied 10 job applicants positions between 2008 and 2011 based on age. According to the EEOC, all of the applicants were age 40 and older, but the company hired younger less qualified candidates instead. The EEOC found that the company hired no applicants over 40 into their management trainee position during this three-year period. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination of persons who are 40 or older when hiring or promoting employees.

The company disputed the allegation and argued that it failed to hire the older applicants because they were less qualified.

However, rather than pay the expenses of litigation, Enterprise Rent-A-Car of Los Angeles settled for $425,000 and entered into a three-year conciliation agreement. Besides the monetary payment, conditions of the agreement included:

  • Redistribution of the company’s anti-discrimination policy to all employees in the L.A. metro area
  • EEO training emphasizing age discrimination for all staff
  • Maintenance of an appropriate record-keeping system
  • Public press release on the matter

No company is too large or too small to benefit from trustworthy legal defense when facing allegations of discrimination. Stephen Hans & Associates is glad to provide your business with effective legal guidance and representation.

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NYC Employment Defense Discrimination Attorney
by cjleclaire
Jul 22, 2015 | 1764 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Stephen D. Hans

What If an Employee Can’t Work the Schedule the Employer Wants?

In many situations, a schedule conflict is a reason not to hire a prospective employee. However, when the employee’s religion is the reason for the schedule conflict, you must be careful not to violate discrimination laws.

In 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a religious discrimination lawsuit against a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee on behalf of Darrell Litrell. Litrell applied for a baker position, was hired and told he would start on a Friday afternoon. He informed the manager that because of his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist, his Sabbath began Friday at sundown and lasted until sundown on Saturday. For this reason, he couldn’t start the job on a Friday afternoon. Subsequently, the manager revoked the job offer.

Litrell sought recourse from the EEOC, which took his case. The franchisee failed to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the EEOC through the conciliation process, and consequently, the case went to trial. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina found in favor of the EEOC, ruling that the prospective employee’s rights had been violated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The court’s ruling against Dunkin’ Donuts included:

    • Paying $22,000 to Litrell in damages
    • An injunctive relief prohibiting the company from future religious discrimination as part of a five-year consent decree
    • Implementation of a policy to address religious discrimination
    • Annual training for all employees
    • Required reporting of all religious accommodation requests to the EEOC
    • Posting of its religious accommodation policy in all its North Carolina restaurants and facilities

When you have issues that arise with employees regarding potential discrimination, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of legal experience defending employer’s rights in employment disputes and often works to help businesses avoid such issues in the first place.

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What Employers Should Know About Retaliation
by cjleclaire
Jun 25, 2015 | 6349 views | 0 0 comments | 183 183 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Stephen Hans

Based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  explains that it is illegal for employers to fire, demote, or otherwise “retaliate” against employees or applicants because they filed a discrimination charge, complained to their employer about job discrimination or participated in an employment discrimination proceeding, such as a lawsuit or investigation. Discrimination law prohibits retaliation in the form of denying hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits and any other term or condition of employment.

A few years ago during the conciliation process, KONE Inc. reached a settlement with the EEOC using mediation. The settlement was for an employee who had filed a complaint of discrimination with the EEOC against the company. A stipulation in the mediation agreement was that KONE would recode the employee’s personnel file, making her eligible for future rehiring. However, KONE failed to do so and listed the employee as ineligible for rehire in the personnel system, which resulted in failure to rehire her on several occasions.

The EEOC sued on behalf of the employee and the court found that KONE had breached the mediation agreement, was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and required KONE to pay $85,000 in monetary relief.

The court also required KONE to provide workplace training on discrimination and retaliation, keep records of discrimination complaints and provide the EEOC with annual reports.

Understanding discrimination law and what courts consider retaliation is vital for a business owner. Companies must ensure that anti-discrimination policies are in place and that management is following them.

Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of employment litigation experience and works with business owners to help them comply with laws and protect their rights. To avoid costly legal expenses, seek legal help at the first sign of discrimination issues. If you already face a complaint, our firm can help.

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Take Quick Actions When Signs of Discrimination Emerge in Your Business
by cjleclaire
Jun 18, 2015 | 6871 views | 0 0 comments | 222 222 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

All too often, business owners are not aware of their managers or supervisors engaging in discriminatory practices toward workers. When workers complain about racial or nationality slurs being made in the workplace, this is a red flag for owners to seek legal counsel and handle such complaints before situations escalate.

Recently the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-17-15a.cfm) brought a case in Nevada against a hospitality industry company named Pioneer Hotel. The EEOC alleged that since 2006, hotel workers, who were a class of Latino and/or brown-skinned workers, bore the brunt of extremely offensive and derogatory comments based on their nationality and skin color. The workers subjected to this discrimination were mainly security officers and housekeeping staff. Supervisors and co-workers made these slurs against them and also instructed them not to speak Spanish during their break times. Despite the fact that workers submitted numerous complaints, the hotel failed to stop and correct the discriminatory behavior.

Such treatment was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed a lawsuit and Pioneer entered into a four-year consent decree to settle the dispute. Terms of the settlement included paying $150,000 to the class members and obtaining an equal employment opportunity consultant to ensure implementation of effective training, policies and procedures to prevent further discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Complaints must be reported immediately to the human resources department, and the company must devise a centralized system to track complaints and post the consent decree at the hotel.

When business owners work closely with employment litigation attorneys, they receive vital legal help to avoid incidents such as the above.

Business owners who see signs of discrimination in their company should consult with our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates (http://www.hansassociates.com/) as soon as possible. If you already face employment disputes we can help protect your rights and settle out of court or litigate on your behalf.

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Food Industry Labeling: The Nuances of Meeting FDA Standards
by cjleclaire
May 21, 2015 | 12458 views | 0 0 comments | 344 344 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

At the end of November, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring restaurants and vending machine companies to label foods for nutritional value. At first glance, this requirement may not seem like a significant legal issue, but in light of a recent investigation, perhaps there is more than meets the eye.

In March, 2015, the FDA issued a warning letter to a New York company called Kind, LLC

The company manufactures healthy snacks, and the FDA warned that the company’s labeling failed to meet FDA labeling requirements for its products: Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Antioxidants.

The labeling on these snacks violated the Federal, Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Some of the words used in advertising the product included “healthy and tasty,” “convenient and wholesome,” “good source of fiber,” “no trans fats” and “very low sodium.” The FDA maintains strict percentage standards for certain nutrients to be called “no trans fats” or “antioxidant rich” and “very low sodium.”

The following was an example of how product labeling was inconsistent with FDA standards. To meet a claim of “healthy,” foods must conform to the standards set forth in 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 101.65(d)(2) . “Low saturated fat” is a fat content of one gram or less and with no more than 15 percent of the calories in the food derived from saturated fat. The Kind, LLC products had 3.5 grams of saturated fat, not one gram or less.

This was just one of a number of violations and the warning letter gave Kind, LLC 15 days to respond and explain the actions being taken to correct each of the violations listed.

In the sea of regulations and laws that businesses must comply with today, it is vital to have an employment law attorney to consult with and receive help from with legal issues, whether involving regulatory agencies or employees. The best defense is always preventative in nature.

Stay on top of your business by consulting with an experienced employment defense lawyer. Stephen Hans & Associates has successfully defended and provided legal guidance to employers for more than 20 years.



 

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EEOC Files Its First of Two Transgender Discrimination Lawsuits
by cjleclaire
Apr 28, 2015 | 11783 views | 0 0 comments | 399 399 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

New York employers should take note that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed and settled its first transgender discrimination lawsuit. In April 2015, the EEOC brought the suit against Lakeland Eye Clinic in Florida (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4-13-15.cfm) but avoided trial by negotiating a pre-litigation settlement for $150,000 during its conciliation process.

The issue being litigated involved discrimination based on sex, alleging that the company fired its Director of Hearing Services after the employee began to present as a women, transitioning from male to female. The employee had performed at her job satisfactorily throughout her tenure as director, and the lawsuit alleged that she was fired because she became transgender and the company claimed this change did not conform with the employer's gender-based stereotypes. However, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees against sex discrimination. The EEOC commended Lakeland Eye Clinic for settling the dispute and agreeing to provide its managers and employees with training that educated them against transgender discrimination. 

At the federal level, this is a landmark case that sets a precedent for other transgender anti-discrimination cases brought before the EEOC.

At a state level, New York has had laws in place since 2002, under The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) (http://www.ag.ny.gov/civil-rights/sonda-brochure), which prohibit discrimination in employment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, and this also extends to transgender issues.

If you are a business owner and have questions or disputes involving sexual orientation discrimination, Stephen Hans & Associates (http://www.hansassociates.com/) can help. Our firm provides representation to companies involved in anti-discrimination litigation and brings decades of experience to every case we handle.

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The Launch of Stephen D. Hans & Associates’ New Website
by cjleclaire
Apr 17, 2015 | 7077 views | 0 0 comments | 189 189 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Stephen D. Hans

Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C. wants to welcome you to the launch of our new employment litigation website.  We hope you can easily find the information you are searching for on our mobile friendly site and that it satisfies your needs.

Early in his legal career, Attorney Stephen Hans discovered his aspirations resided in the area of employment and labor law, and he has maintained this primary focus since 1979. His law firm has provided valuable legal guidance and representation in numerous issues involving employment law, wage and hours law, labor law and work-related disputes, whether with regulatory agencies or employees.

Today, more than ever before, small to mid-sized business owners find themselves in a fast changing legal landscape where increasingly they must comply with new regulations and laws that affect how they do business. Seeking legal counsel about labor and employment issues has become an essential aspect of staying in business. Having an employment defense lawyer serves a dual purpose of providing:

*Legal guidance with devising and implementing policies and guidelines that align with laws and regulations and prevent employment disputes

*Strong advocacy to protect your interests as a business owner through litigation and negotiated settlements when disputes arise

Years of experience representing plaintiffs and defendants, and employees and employers have led our firm in a specific legal direction. Our practice has evolved into a law firm that concentrates on employer litigation, offering affordable legal help to small and mid-sized business owners through flexible billing options.

Whether you face a legal matter in a New York State or Federal court, you can rely on our proven track record and extensive experience to protect your interests. Contact Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C. for legal help with preventing or dealing with employment disputes.

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STARS Act of 2015 Addresses ACA Confusion over Season Employee/Season Worker
by cjleclaire
Apr 07, 2015 | 12807 views | 0 0 comments | 182 182 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Stephen D. Hans

The restaurant industry and other fields of work, such as farming, often have seasonal workers that pick up heavier work loads during more productive times of the year.

The lack of clarification regarding seasonal employment has been confusing for small business owners, family farms and ranches when dealing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its requirements to provide healthcare insurance for employees.

The bipartisan Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality (STARS) Act of 2015  provides clarity so small businesses can understand their obligations in complying with healthcare law and not receive fines.

As the ACA stands in its current form, extensive calculations are necessary to determine the number of full-time employees and whether you qualify as an exempt, small seasonal employer. Many employers have found the process to be complex and confusing.

The STARS Act would provide a clear definition for a seasonal worker and seasonal employee as the following: A worker who is employed for six months or less during the calendar year. The formulas employers would use to determine whether they are large employers and whether their workers have full-time status have also been simplified.

STARS is supported by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

If you have questions about your obligations under the ACA, our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates can provide you with trustworthy legal guidance. Our firm has decades of experience assisting clients with litigation related to employment issues.

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Implications of the Recent Retail Wage Increases
by cjleclaire
Mar 26, 2015 | 10250 views | 0 0 comments | 196 196 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Author: Setphen D. Hans

Recently, Wal-Mart announced its decision to raise the base wage of its employees.

Wal-Mart plans to increase wages for close to 40 percent of its workforce. As of April, workers will earn at least nine dollars an hour, which is $1.75 more than the federal minimum wage. Workers’ wages will increase to $10 per hour by February 2016. According to a Washington Post article, Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest employer.

Several days later, another retail giant. TJX, mother company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods announced it also was increasing retail workers’ base pay to nine dollars an hour. Forbes reports that this wage increase is in keeping with IKEA’s wage increase to more than $10 per hour in 2015 and also with Gap Inc. which also increased their workers’ base pay in 2014 and at the beginning of 2015.

We see a domino effect occurring in the retail industry that may carry over to other lines of work as well. What is obvious is that the retail business model is undergoing change. Part of the underlying reason may be that retail chain stores have to compete with online stores, such as Amazon.

Another factor may be that bad publicity. Despite advertising efforts to create good branding and trustworthy images, a negative public image can drive customers to leave retail stores and shop online instead. Consumers wonder why large conglomerates are not paying their workers well and do not want to support them. Also, as the economy improves and employment pools shrink, stores must raise wages to stay competitive with each other if they want to hire the better job candidates.

Stay on top of your business and consult with an employment lawyer who has extensive experience handling wages and hours disputes. Stephen Hans & Associates offers effective legal representation and has successfully defended employers for more than 20 years in employment litigation issues.

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Wal-Mart Hit by EEOC with Age and Disability Discrimination Suit
by cjleclaire
Mar 18, 2015 | 7115 views | 0 0 comments | 168 168 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Author: Stephen D. Hans

Sometimes hearing about a discrimination case is the best way for employers to understand potential liability.

People would expect a company the size of Wal-Mart to have anti-discrimination policies firmly in place, but even so, there are instances where managers fail to abide by the policies. The EEOC sued Wal-Mart (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/2-19-15.cfm) on behalf of David Moorman based on age and disability discrimination. The lawsuit alleged that Moorman was subjected to frequent harassment by his direct supervisor who called him "old man" and "old food guy." The store refused to make accommodations when Moorman was diagnosed with diabetes and upon his doctor's advice requested reassignment to a store co-manager or assistant manager position. There was no discussion regarding his request, which was eventually rejected and he was terminated because of his age and disability.

Initially, Wal-Mart refused to settle during the EEOC's pre-litigation conciliation process. However, when the EEOC then filed a lawsuit, negotiations ensued and Wal-Mart settled based on the following terms:

  • Payment of $150,000 relief to Moorman
  • Training for employees on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Training to include instruction on conduct that constitutes unlawful discrimination or harassment
  • Training to include instruction on Wal-Mart's procedures for handling reasonable ADA requests
  • Compliance reports to the EEOC regarding the consent degree
  • Notice posted to employees about the settlement

At the first sign of serious employment problems, it is wise to consult with an experienced employment litigation attorney. Stephen Hans & Associates has represented small and mid-sized businesses for more than 20 years in issues involving employment disputes, including discrimination allegations.

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