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NYC Litigation Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Employers Can Ban Dreadlocks in the Workplace


Does Title VII protect hairstyles culturally associated with race?

In September, a federal appeals court ruled that an employer has a right to enforce a dress and grooming policy that prohibits employees from wearing their hair in dreadlocks. The case was initially brought in 2013 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against an insurance claims processing company in Mobile, Alabama that rescinded a job offer to a black woman who refused to cut her dreadlocks.

The Company Dress Code

The woman applied as a customer service representative with the company in 2010. After being hired, she was told by the human resources manager that the dreadlocks needed to be cut since the company's dress and grooming policy requires employees to project a "professional and businesslike image." The HR manager reportedly told the woman that dreadlocks "tend to get messy.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pushing the Boundaries of Title VII


Does federal law prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees and job applicants based on specific characteristics including race, color, national origin, religion and gender. Currently, as it has been interpreted by case law, Title VII does not protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Moreover, legislation to end these forms of discrimination in the workplace stalled in Congress in 2013.

EEOC Initiative

Now, the federal government agency responsible for investigating employment discrimination claims has weighed in on the issue. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a bulletin in July stating that Title VII's prohibitions of sex discrimination includes employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Photographer Carol Highsmith Seeks $1 Billion from Getty for Copyright Violation


Are images in the public domain allowed to be sold by others?

Carol Highsmith is a celebrated photographer whose works have been featured in books, magazines, and even on two postage stamps.  Highsmith is also known for her willingness to share her images to the public, with thousands of her images currently available for free to citizens.  But when Highsmith was sent a letter accusing her of copyright infringement for using her own image on her web page, she took action.


Read more . . .


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Melania Trump’s Speech Raises Copyright Concerns


Are public speeches copyrighted?

Melania Trump, wife of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, spoke at the Republican National Convention to a massive crowd of enthusiastic voters.  Just moments after the speech ended, however, controversy erupted.  News outlets started reporting that a portion of her speech was strikingly similar to a speech delivered by Michelle Obama, wife of then Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. While the Trump campaign has denied that Melania Trump plagiarized any part of the speech, the hullabaloo does raise some important


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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Effects of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) on Employers


What steps should employers take to facilitate the protection of their DTSA rights?

When President Obama signed the DTSA into law this past May, he provided employers with a method for dealing with trade secret misappropriation claims. The recognition that trade secrets "make up an increasingly important part of American companies’ intellectual property portfolios," pushed Congress to enact the Act to create a protection for trade secrets paralleling that already in place for other intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks. It is precisely because of legal changes like these that it is essential for employers to have skilled, knowledgeable employment and copyright attorneys behind them as they struggle to keep pace with future developments in the world of business.

Those who back the DTSA assert that, in addition to giving plaintiffs access to judiciary expertise on a federal level as they navigate intellectual property (IP) disputes, the DTSA will make trade secret law more consistent and predictable, helping employers to protect their rights during disputes, even disputes that cross state lines.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Important Information about the Defend Trade Secrets Act


What is the Defend Trade Secrets Act?

When President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) last month, he provided business owners with another tool to protect the confidential information that gives them an economic advantage over their competitors. There is now a new cause of action in federal court designed to prevent and/or punish the misappropriation of trade secrets. Significantly, the DTSA does not preempt state laws regarding these matters, so employers and owners can now bring legal actions under both DTSA and state laws. It is always wise to engage the services of an experienced, well-reputed employment and copyright law attorney when dealing with such issues and disputes since they can be crucial to the success, or even the survival, of your business.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Employee Wellness Programs & The Obligations Of Employers


Employers sometimes desire to implement health programs for their workers, which serve to facilitate healthy lifestyles and decrease healthcare overheads.  These employee programs are usually referred to as “participatory” or “health-contingent” wellness programs, depending on whether the worker is required to partake in a certain health arrangement.  However, employers have a plethora of requirements that they must follow in order for these programs to be legally acceptable. 

For example, when employers desire to promote and foster the health of their employees through certain “employee wellness programs,” they have to ensure that the employees’ personally identifiable and health details are kept confidential.


Read more . . .


Monday, June 27, 2016

Your Work—How To Protect It With Copyright Registration


Are you a musician, artist, or writer and have an authentic work that you would like to protect?  

Your creation does not need to be published in order to file for protection.  However, it cannot merely be an idea.  An idea must, instead, be established in a “tangible medium of expression,” such as through a book, photo, drawing, or piece of architecture.  Moreover, you must be the true owner or author of the work in order to protect it.    

Copyright registration is optional and protection attaches to your work upon creation; however, registration is especially beneficial if you become involved in a lawsuit.


Read more . . .


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pregnancy Discrimination


What constitutes pregnancy discrimination?

As of May 6, 2016 the definition of pregnancy discrimination was clarified by the New York City Commission on Human Rights under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) which gives clear examples of the particular accommodations employers have to make for women relative to pregnancy-and-childbirth-related medical conditions.

Previous Laws Prohibiting Gender Discrimination

Before the new law, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (New York City Administrative Code § 8-107(22)(a) already required employers to provide accommodations to pregnant workers to allow them to continue performing their regular duties at work. New York's State Legislature bill, "Protect Women from Pregnancy Discrimination," provided for the expansion of these protections statewide.

Defining Discrimination

The recent guidance offered by the New York City law makes it unlawful to treat an employee or job applicant "less well than others" because of her actual or perceived pregnancy. The following actions are specifically prohibited:

 

  • Refusing to hire someone qualified because she appears to be, or states that she is, pregnant
  • Firing an employee because of her pregnancy
  • Harassing a pregnant employee by commenting on her weight, appearance, age, job commitment or ability to concentrate
  • Excluding pregnant workers from particular job categories
  • Requiring pregnant employees to take unpaid leave at a certain time during their pregnancies
  • Requiring pregnant workers to obtain medical clearance to perform certain tasks if such medical clearance is not required of other employees

     

    Prohibitions of pregnancy discrimination apply in situations in which a woman is expected to become pregnant in the near future as well as in situations in which she is already with child.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What to know about the new overtime laws


Overtime pay can be a great income boost, particularly since eligible recipients are entitled to one and one-half times their regular rate for staying late. However, until recently, a significantly large portion of the private sector was left excluded from these benefits under the overly-broad concept of “exempt employees.” The list of exempt employees, as provided by the Department of Labor, included everything from executives to agriculturalists, as well as seasonal employees, salesmen and computer technicians. Moreover, the rules included an “income threshold” of just $23,660 -- meaning anyone earning more than that could be legally excluded from overtime pay.

Fortunately, this threshold was recently expanded -- in a big way.


Read more . . .


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Recent NY Employment Law Amendment Will Allow 12-Week Paid Family Leave Law


What is the 12-week paid family leave law and how will it affect NY employees?

Until recently, major family changes were made much more difficult because of employment obligations. The birth of a new baby, the illness of a close family member, or the call to active duty of a family member in the military often threw the whole family constellation out of whack. The new legislation, signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 4th, however, will help to give peace of mind to a great many families in the state. As of the implementation of this legislation, referred to as the "Paid Leave Law," an employee in New York will be  permitted up to 12 weeks of paid leave under any of the following circumstances:

  1. To care for a new child in the family.
    Read more . . .


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