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New York Employer Law Blog

How to pay employees for travel time

The Fair Labor Standards Act says that New York employers must generally pay nonexempt workers for time spent traveling. For example, if someone travels overnight to another city for business purposes, that person may be entitled to be paid for work done on the trip. Employers may also need to pay a worker for time spent waiting at an airport. However, employers don't need to pay workers for time spent on the plane unless work is being done.

It is also important to note that companies don't have to pay workers for their normal commute times. Only in situations when traveling to a job site extends the normal commute would a worker be entitled to extra pay. If a worker crosses a time zone, businesses should only calculate the actual time spent traveling when determining how much to pay a worker.

How to create an objective hiring process

Generally speaking, an employer cannot base a hiring decision on a worker's gender, race or national origin. New York employers and others also cannot discriminate based on age if a person is 40 or older. While small businesses may be exempt from certain discrimination laws, it is still a good idea to conduct a thorough search to find the best person for the job.

To find the right person, an employer should create a list of the major tasks that an employee must perform. Employers can also determine ahead of time the level of education and amount of previous experience a job candidate should have. This can make it easier to weed out certain candidates on an objective basis as opposed to a potentially discriminatory one. Prior to conducting a job search, businesses can contact others in the area to ask about the type of qualifications that they look for in a candidate.

Supreme Court gives employers favorable ruling

According to Justice Neil Gorsuch, the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act takes precedence over the National Labor Relations Act. This was part of a majority Supreme Court decision that could impact companies in New York and throughout the country. What the opinion means is that employers can't face class-action lawsuits if they require employees to sign arbitration agreements. Instead, employees must pursue wage and hour law violation claims on their own.

While Gorsuch said that Congress is free to amend the law, this was not accomplished in his opinion by the NLRA. Justice Ginsberg said that class-action lawsuits are generally more effective because individual claims are generally smaller. Furthermore, individuals may be less willing to come forward by themselves because they fear retaliation from their employer. One of the employers named in a lawsuit covered by the court's decision was Ernst & Young.

How to dock exempt employee pay

Employers are generally not required to pay overtime to exempt employees or required to pay them a minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, employers must pay an exempt worker a full weekly salary in any week in which work is performed. This is true regardless of how many hours or days this person puts in, but workers could be docked pay if they miss work for personal reasons.

They could also be docked pay for missing work because of medical reasons if the employer has an alternate method of compensating them. An employer can also dock pay for the first and last full week of employment if an exempt employee does not work the full week. If a worker is being punished for safety violations or otherwise being suspended in good faith, an employer may reduce an exempt employee's pay accordingly.

How to make a workplace more inclusive

Companies in New York and throughout the nation could see a gain in productivity by being more inclusive. Compared to companies that had all-male boards, those with even a single female board member saw a 15 percent increase in productivity. This was according to data from Peterson Institute for International Economics. In addition, businesses could see a reduction in legal costs and a greater ability to hire quality talent.

Changing a corporate culture can be more effective than writing a policy or trying to punish individuals after committing an offense. By simply following through on policies that advocate for gender equality, the rate of sexual and other types of gender harassment are likely to go down. Companies that don't choose to adapt their policies to match changing gender and societal norms could be seen as toxic places to work for.

New York laws protect applicants with criminal records

The number Americans with a criminal record is on the rise, and one-third of the adult working-age population has a record. Many employers are considering different avenues for workers, and for many groups, people with criminal records are a great source for untapped potential.

Every organization must develop their procedure for hiring workers with criminal records, and they must find a way to address tough issues in a fair, legal manner. New York laws protects the rights for people with criminal records and their fair treatment in the employment process.

Supreme Court rules for employer in FLSA case

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, New York employers must generally pay their non-exempt workers overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. However, this is not always the case. A Supreme Court ruling has clarified that exemptions to FLSA standards can be made based on a fair examination of the case as opposed to a narrowly construed view.

That ruling came in the case of Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro. Employees of Encino Motorcars claimed that they were owed back pay for overtime hours worked. The company claimed that an exemption applied to those who primarily sell or service automobiles. Its employees had job duties such as suggesting repairs that could be made to a vehicle, selling parts and taking service orders. While a lower court had initially dismissed the case, the 9th Circuit reversed that decision.

How to correctly apply FMLA rights

Certain New York employers must abide by the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The act states that workers have the right to take leave to care for themselves or family members who have medical issues. They can also take leave for the birth or adoption of a child. A private employer must generally offer FMLA leave if it employs 50 or more people for 20 or more workweeks in the current or previous year.

Not all employees are eligible to take leave even if they work for a covered employer. An employee needs to have worked 1,250 hours within a 12-month period prior to their leave date. That person also needs to have worked for the company for at least 12 months prior to their leave date. Finally, an employee would need to have worked within 75 miles of a location where the employer has 50 or more workers.

Employers can protect themselves from harassment claims

New York businesses should work to prevent workplace sexual harassment from happening so that they can protect their workers while also avoiding potential liability. There are several steps that companies can take to help to do this.

Companies should make certain that they have clearly defined sexual harassment policies in place that clearly communicate that such behavior will not be tolerated. They should make certain that the policy is connected to a broader anti-discrimination policy and that it is shared with all of the workers. The policy should also be clearly communicated to the management. There should also be a defined complaint procedure. It is best to include several avenues for workers to complain so that they can't try to claim that they didn't have anyone available to report it to.

Could your job application have discriminatory questions?

Employers generally do not realize this, but job seekers may find it particularly difficult to know what to do when an application has questions that they may be uncomfortable answering. The same may apply when screening questionnaire has illegal questions. After all, they would not be applying if they didn't want the job (or needed the income). So it is not uncommon for eager applicants to unwittingly complying with illegal directives, and could cause an uninformed employer to foster discriminatory practices.

Compliance with state and federal law is increasingly important given how many more prospective employees are seeking jobs. Through this post, we hope to educate employers on what to avoid on job applications and screening interviews.

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