SEXUAL HARASSMENT, HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT, EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION, WAGE/HOUR VIOLATIONS, EEOC, FMLA, FLSA, ADA and PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION ATTORNEYS serving NEW YORK and NEW JERSEY
In New York and New Jersey, it is unlawful for a manager, supervisor, an employer or business owner to Sexually Harass (which is a form of gender discrimination) or to Discriminate against you because of your Race, Religion, Color, Creed, Age, Disability, Nation Origin (nationality), Sex or Sexual Orientation. In addition, you cannot be targeted simply because you asked for leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), asked to be accommodated for a health condition or disability. Furthermore, you are entitled to be paid the minimum wage and overtime wages when you work over 40 hours in a given week. You cannot be terminated or face retaliation simply because you asked to be paid the Minimum Wage or Overtime Pay as required by law. The protection also extends to you if you have been targeted by your employer because you stood-up or spoke-out for a co-worker that was being harassed or discriminated.
The labor & employment attorneys at Akin & Salaman are dedicated to fighting injustice and protecting New York and New Jersey employees from Sexual Harassment, Employment Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment and Wage Violations
- What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
- What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment at Work?
- Is intimidation a form of Sexual Harassment at Work?
- What is considered Discrimination at Work?
- What constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?
- Can my boss force me to date him?
- Will I be fired if I complain about being sexually harassed?
- What is the Prevailing Wage in New York?
- Should I be Paid Overtime?
- Jokes about my religion at work?
- Can a pregnant woman be fired?
- Can an employer refuse to hire a pregnant woman?
- What kind of discrimination is illegal at work?
- How is national origin discrimination defined?
- What is the rule on overtime pay?
Above are examples of questions often asked by employees that faced Employment Discrimination and/or a Sexual Harassment at work. Over the past 24 years, the Employment Law Attorneys at Akin & Salaman represented thousands of individuals and recovered millions of dollars. Put our experience to work for you.
Unfortunately, workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and the resulting hostile work environment run rampant in all forms of businesses. Although many employees may not understand the legal terminology, every employee knows when they have been sexually harassed, treated unfairly, subjected to a hostile work environment, faced discrimination at work, or when they have been subjected to retaliation for complaining of employment discrimination. The attorneys at Akin & Salaman are here to help you understand your rights and help you make the recovery that you deserve.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT? |WHAT IS A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT? | ATTORNEYS SERVING New York and New Jersey
Sexual harassment at work is a form of discrimination based on sex (gender) that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York City Human Rights Law, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
Sexual harassment can consist of many overt and subtle acts and words. Sexual Harassment can start with what appears to be innocent remarks or even compliments like, "you look good," or "you’re so sexy," and end up with rather harsh statements like, "I like your breast (t – – s)", "I want to touch you," "you get me excited," etc. It is not illegal for someone that you work with to ask you out for dinner or on a date; many people do meet in this manner. However, once you let the individual know that you are not interested, any further insistence by them, any retaliation, any act of punishing you for refusing their advances or any further insistence that you comply with their demands is the definition of a Hostile Work Environment / Sexual Harassment. Often, harassers refusing to take NO for an answer may start to insult you, harass you with words or comments disguised as jokes or opinions, start to criticize your work in retaliation, or touch you while pretending it's harmless or was unintentional. These are all typical reactions from people creating a hostile work environment through sexual harassment.
If you become the target of unwanted sexual advances, harsh words, insults, threats, demeaning comments about your sex / gender, your looks, your body parts, or if you have been touched in a manner that makes you feel uncomfortable, you have been sexually harassed and should speak to an attorney immediately. In addition, if you received unfavorable reviews, if your job has been made more difficult, and/or if you have even terminated (fired from your job), or threatened with termination, then you have also been the victim of illegal retaliation in addition to illegal sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is not limited to words. Often, an individual can be the target of sexual harassment by being touched in an offensive or sexual manner without their consent, even if the touching does not involve the harasser’s hands (touching someone with an object, rubbing against an individual, standing too close as to violate their space, etc.). Some examples of unwelcomed touching are: slapping someone on the buttocks (claiming its a joke), massaging an individual without their consent, brushing against a woman’s breast or buttocks, touching someone's leg / knee / groin, kissing someone without their consent (lips or elsewhere), or in any other manner which would be deemed inappropriate for a workplace. Even a single act (words or touching) that is offensive may qualify as sexual harassment.
One good news for New York employees, on March 3, 2022, President Biden signed into law the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.” This Act amends the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and prohibits the enforcement of arbitration agreements involving allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. The Act does not invalidate arbitration agreements, but instead permits the complainant the right to elect whether they wish to file a sexual harassment claims in court or proceed with arbitration. This law has strengthened the hand of employees who are often forced to execute an arbitration agreement.
Previously on April 12, 2018 Governor Andrew Cuomo had signed a new law (N.Y.C.P.L.R. 7515(a)(2), 7515(a)(4)(b)(i)-(iii)) banning mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims. Later, on August 12, 2019, Governor Cuomo a new law that expanded the prohibition to claims of other types of discrimination. With the new legislation signed, Governor Cuomo strengthening New York's anti-discrimination laws by eliminating the restriction that harassment be "severe or pervasive" in order to be legally actionable which now allows even a single act, or what previously may have been classified as a "trivial touching" or "trivial words", to now be deemed acts of harassment.
The unfavorable arbitration forum can no longer be forced upon State employees that now have the right to chose their preferential forum for resolution of their sexual harassment claims.
As for New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy also signed a new law expanding on New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by clarifying the “severe or pervasive” standard for establishing a hostile work environment making it clear for the Courts that a single incident can create a hostile work environment even when no physical touching is involved. In addition, the new bill added domestic workers and unpaid interns to the list of employees protected by the LAD and extended to the statute of limitations for cases brought under the LAD from two years to three years.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT? | NY-NJ LAWYER
Hostile work environment is a term that is used to describe the atmosphere at work which results from sexual harassment and/or employment discrimination where the victim is prevented from doing their normal work because of the harassment/discrimination. In addition, a Hostile Work Environment may also include other types of cases involving discrimination in the workplace associated with intimidation, oppression, ridicule and offensive words and/or acts. There can be many different forms of acts that cause and create a hostile work environment. By way of example, calling someone that has a dark complexion a monkey, calling woman a bitch, mimicking someone’s accent, calling a Muslim person a terrorist, calling someone Jewish cheap or asking if he has horns, making sexually explicit sounds, bringing nude photos or watching pornography on the computer are all acts that can intimidate and seriously disturb other individuals that are working to such an extent that one would conclude the work place to be permeated with a hostile work environment. People trying to earn a living have the right to work in an atmosphere that is free from such cruel and unacceptable comments and acts. Anyone that feels that their work conditions have been made hostile in this manner should consult with an attorney immediately.
WHAT IS QUID PRO QUO SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
There are other forms of sexual harassment, one of which is known as Quid Pro Quo meaning “give me something for something in return”. By way of example, a supervisor may tell a subordinate that he will give her a raise or a good review only if she goes out on a date with him. Some demands can be even more perverted like demanding oral sex or sexual intercourse for good working conditions, to receive a raise, not to be written-up, or to keep a job. Anytime a person’s work or working condition is made contingent upon a sexual act, it is illegal and constitutes quid pro quosexual harassment.
Often times, individuals that are the victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment, work in positions that are significantly inferior to the harasser, need their job to provide for themselves and their families, and/or have made a mistake at work which could have repercussions (including termination). These situations often make the harasser (usually men) feel that they can make sexual demands on an individual (usually woman) because of the leverage they have. Do not let this happen to you. No one can force you to do any sexual act even if you made a mistake at work or did something wrong! If you feel that you have been the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment, call Akin & Salaman without delay.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION?
Discrimination at a person job can take many different forms and maybe for various reasons. In short, it is illegal for anyone to discriminate against an employee or workers because of the person’s characteristics like: race, religion, color, creed, age, disability, sex and sexual orientation. By way of an example (regarding discrimination based on sex) discrimination based on sex is evident when a woman is treated negatively regarding the terms or conditions of her employment compared to a man where the man might be paid a higher wage for doing the same work or the man might be promoted although the woman has more seniority. Sex / Race / National Origin discrimination includes treating an employee or an applicant differently based on the person’s sex, race or national origin. Calling a woman a “dumb blond” or saying “African Americans are lazy” or “Polish people are stupid” are just a few of the stereotypical responses that exist although they are absolutely false. Another type of gender / sex discrimination includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical harassment which occurs because of the employee’s sex. Sexual harassment may be from a man to a woman, from a woman to a man or individuals in the same sex (man to a man or woman to a woman).
The Employee Discrimination often involves one of the following unlawful acts where a manager, supervisor, an employer or business owner (because of your race, religion, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age or disability):
- refuse to offer you a job
- refuse to promote you or give you a raise while promoting others
- makes fun of your religion or demeans your beliefs
- refuses to provide reasonable accommodations for your religious practice
- makes derogatory comments about your race, religion, sex, or national origin
- stereotypes you because of your race, religion or national origin
- refuse to pay you the same wage as other workers (often involving women being paid less than men / minorities being paid less than Caucasians)
- fires you or terminates your employment
- forces you to quit or resign from your job by making your employment difficult
- treats you differently and unfairly compared to your coworkers
If you feel that you have been the victim of discrimination where because of your sex, race, national origin, religion, color, creed, actual or perceived sexual orientation, your age or a disability from which you may suffer, Akin & Salaman is here to help you protect your rights. No one has the right to deny you and your family the fruits of your hard work.
WHAT ARE THE REMEDIES FOR EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION?
If you have been the subject of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment or have otherwise been discriminated against because of who you are, you may be entitled to:
- Compensation for emotional distress
- Lost earnings (back pay)
- Future lost earnings (front pay)
- Punitive damages
- Costs and interest
- Attorney’s fees
- Reinstatement back to work (if you have been fired)
- Promotion, if you have been wrongfully denied
- Additional relief in law and/or equity
RETALIATION FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Retaliation is any act that an employer does to adversely affect the work or working conditions of any employee that may have filed a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposed discrimination in the workplace. Regardless of whether the Discrimination in the workplace stemmed from a person’s sex, race, color, creed, age, disability, sexual orientation or is related to a claim of Sexual Harassment, a Hostile Work Environment, related to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) involving the minimum wage or overtime claims, it is illegal for the employer to retaliate.
Retaliation may take many forms, from terminating (firing or discharging) the employee, to increasing the employees work load, giving the employee unsatisfactory or negative reviews, scolding or treating the employee in a harsh manner, moving the employee to an undesirable location or post, denying an employee a raise or a promotion, or harassing and ridiculing the employee.
The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially the same work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding by testifying against the employer. These laws also protect employees from other forms of retaliation like coercion, intimidation, threats, and other forms of harassment. If you are the victim of retaliation, contact an attorney immediately to protect your job.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM WAGE
As of January 1, 2023 New Jersey minimum wage increased to $14.13 per hour for most employees. By way of background, in 2018 the minimum wage rate in New Jersey was $8.60 per hour; as of January 1, 2019 the New Jersey minimum increased to $8.85 per hour; as of January 1, 2020 the minimum wage increased again to $11.00 per hour; as of January 1, 2021 the minimum wage increased to $12.00 per hour; and as of January 1, 2022 the minimum wage increased to $13.00 per hour. The overtime rate in New Jersey has always been 1-1/2 the posted minimum wage applicable for most employees that worked in excess of 40 hours per week. There is a six (6) year statute of limitations for wage violations in New Jersey. In other words, as of 2023, employees can sue and recover for underpayment of wages (minimum wage and overtime wages) going back to 2017.
New York State is a bit more complicated depending on the County of employment.
For New York City the minimum wage for all employees increased to $15.00 per hour as of January 1, 2020, which is the current rate. Prior to 2020, the hour rate differed based on whether the employer was classified as a "large employer" with 11 or more employees or a "small employer" with 10 or fewer employees.
For New York employers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, the minimum wage increased to$15.00 per hour as of January 1, 2022. As of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage rate had been $10.00 per hour, which increased to $11.00 per hour as of January 1, 2018, $12.00 per hour as of January 1, 2019, $13.00 per hour as of January 1, 2020, $14.00 per hour as of January 1, 2021, $15.00 per hour as of January 1, 2022.
For the remaining counties of New York, the minimum wage increased to$13.20 per hour as of January 1, 2022. As of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage rate had been $9.70 per hour, which increased to $10.40 per hour as of January 1, 2018, $11.10 per hour as of January 1, 2019, $11.80 per hour as of January 1, 2020, and $12.50 per hour as of January 1, 2021.
Unlike New Jersey, New York provides more protection for employees with regard to pay notice and pay statement. All employers are required to provide a pay-notice and pay-statement to their employees. Failing to provide such a notice may make them liable for mandatory fees up to $5,000 for these notice violation.
If you have not been paid the minimum wage or have not been paid overtime despite working more than 40 hours in a given week, Akin & Salaman is here to help you collect all the amounts that you are owed which may include liquidated damages, costs and fees.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO OVERTIME?
Both, New York and New Jersey require that all employees (with few exception) that are not classified as "administrative or executive" to be paid overtime, which is an amount that is 1.5 X the regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a given week. By way of an example, an employee in New York that is paid $15.00 per hour in wages must be paid $22.50 per hour for any time they work in excess of 40 hours in the given week. As such, an employee that works 50 hours in a given week must be paid $600.00 (40 x $15.00) in regular pay and $225.00 (10 x $22.50) in Over-Time pay for a total of $825.00. The same overtime principal applies for employees working in New Jersey.
If you are classified as an "administrative or executive" employee or are a "manager" by the true definition of the word with specific powers and authorities, you may be exempt from receiving overtime. These classifications are often cloudy. An employee does not become ineligible for overtime merely because the employer has decided to use one of these terms to define their job title. To be truly exempt. the employer must meet the very specific definitions and qualification such as the minimum amount of pay required.
Again, New York has rather complicated laws regarding overtime pay and exemptions. Although the exceptions are narrowly tailored, employees may be in violation in denying qualified employees overtime, stretching the exception beyond its legal limits. If you are working more than 40 hours per week and are not getting paid overtime, you should immediately contact one of the Employment Law Attorneys at at Akin & Salaman for a free and confidential consultation to learn your rights. Considering the statute of limitations is six years (you can go back 6 years to recovery amounts you are legitimately owed) you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by contacting our office.
RECOVERY ON MINIMUM WAGE / OVERTIME CASES
In the event you have been denied the Minimum Wage or Overtime pay, you should contact at Akin & Salaman without delay. Not only will we help you recover the amounts you are owed, you may also be entitled to liquidated damages (which can double your recovery) above the amount you were cheated. In addition, you may also recovery statutory fees for each day that your employer failed to give you a pay-stub or refused to provide you a pay-notice (indicating your hourly rate and overtime rate). The Attorneys at Akin & Salaman is here to assist you. Not only will our lawyers help you obtain the wages that you deserve, our attorneys fees and costs will be paid by your employer. Hence, the recovery and representation you receive from at Akin & Salaman will be free of cost and fees. Call without delay. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES PROTECTING NY WORKERS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
The EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC), the NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (NYSDHR), the NEW YORK CITY COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (NYCCHR) and the NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE (Division of Civil Rights) are all governmental agencies (Federal, State and City) that are formed to enforce the laws protecting individuals from discrimination, including discrimination at work or on the job for all employees and workers.
Although these agencies are available to the general public, often time filing a claim with these agencies may be confusing and/or involve knowledge of the law. Claims that are filed may have binding effects on the employee and may be detrimental to a full recovery if not properly and adequately presented. The attorneys at Akin & Salaman, which practice in the field of employment law, will work closely with these agencies to protect the rights of their clients that have been sexually harassed, discriminated against, retaliated or have otherwise been the victim of unfair employment practices.
Even when considering filing a complaint with one of these agencies, victims of sexual harassment, employment discrimination or wage violations should consult with an employment attorney to help guide them through the maze.
Call the Employment Law Attorneys at Akin & Salaman for a free consultation. No fee unless we make a recovery for you.
Akin & Salaman's offices are conveniently located right on Broadway in New York City’s financial district (downtown Manhattan) just south of Wall Street. We are easily accessible by car (FDR Drive or West Side Highway) to the low-cost Public Parking lot right behind the Office at 56 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10006 or public transportation (1, 4, 5 and R Trains to the Wall Street/Rector Street Station) which is steps from the office.