Stephen Hans Blog by cjleclaire
Employment and Labor Law Attorneys
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by cjleclaire
Mar 30, 2018 | 25024 views | 0 0 comments | 405 405 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
by Stephen D. Hans

As an employer, have you ever wondered if a wage deduction you made was legal? New York Labor Law establishes what is legal and what is not for wage deductions. If you have questions, it is always wise to seek legal counsel from an experienced employment law defense attorney.

The NY legislature passed an amendment to NY Labor Law 193 Deductions from Wages in October 2015. The amendment went into effect on November 6, 2015 and expires on November 6, 2018, unless the legislature renews it. Two main features of the amendment are allowing employers to deduct for over payments and salary advances.


The amendment permits employers to make wage deductions for accidental overpayments. Overpayments refer to payments made due to a mathematical or clerical error by the employer. Note that the employer must provide the employee with a notice of the overpayment deduction prior to commencing the recovery.

Also, regulations govern how the deduction is made based on the size of overpayment along with the timing, frequency, duration and method of recovery. In addition, the employer must provide a procedure for the employee to dispute overpayment amounts and the procedure for recovering it.

Salary Advances

The employer must abide by rules the Commissioner has established for the timing, frequency, duration and method of deduction of a salary advance. There are also limitations on the periodic amount of repayment of the advance. Employers must provide employees with a notice before commencing repayment and also provide a procedure for the employee to dispute the amount or to seek delay of repayment.

In addition to wage advances and overpayments, some of the other allowed deductions include:

  • Insurance premiums
  • Prepaid legal plans
  • Pension or health and welfare benefits
  • Dues or assessments to a labor organization
  • Discounted parking or discounted passes, tokens, fare cards, vouchers or other items that entitle the employee to use mass transit

Do You Have Questions about Wage Deductions?

Our attorneys are glad to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Stephen Hans & Associates provides decades of experience to business owners regarding employment related issues.

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April 04, 2018
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by cjleclaire
Mar 30, 2018 | 23689 views | 0 0 comments | 885 885 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
by Stephen D. Hans

Owners in the restaurant industry often have questions about tips. As a restaurant owner, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities regarding tips so you can avoid disputes with employees and not put your business at risk.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), which is federal law, and the New York Labor Law (state law) determine how restaurant owners must deal with tips.

In the past, people paid restaurant bills with cash, but today credit cards are a popular and common form of payment.

How must a restaurant owner deal with credit card tips?

When tips are received by credit card, the owner must pay the employee the tip amount due no later than the regularly scheduled payday. Credit card companies charge a fee to the merchant for use of credit cards, and the fee is a percentage of the total amount paid on the card. The employer deducts the pro-rated share of the credit card company charge from the tip when calculating the employee’s tip.

How must an employee’s wage statement reflect wages and tips?

The wage statement must indicate the amount being paid to the employee in wages and the amount paid in tips.

How should employers handle cash tips?

Employers can allow employees to leave their cash tips with the employer during a particular pay period. However, doing so must be voluntary and up to the employee. Employers can hold tips as a service to the employee, and employers would indicate the amount in tips and wages in the wage statement. Employers cannot make their service of keeping cash tips as a mandatory hiring condition or as a condition for continued employment. If employees allow employers to keep their tips, employers must keep a daily record of tips earned by each employee and have the records available for inspection by the employee and/or the NY Department of Labor.

Do You Have Other Questions about NY Labor Laws that Apply to the Restaurant Industry?

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to answer your questions and provide legal guidance or representation for disputed employment issues.


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by cjleclaire
Feb 23, 2018 | 29145 views | 1 1 comments | 470 470 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

What Posters Must Employers Display based on NY Employment Laws?

A number of laws have been passed that require employers to display posters. It is often hard to keep up with all the requirements and know whether or not you’ve displayed all the posters.

The New York Department of Labor has a list of all the posters employers must display. Also, keep in mind that certain types of industries have additional posters to display based on laws related to their specific fields. For example, business owners engaged in the sale or service of food or beverages have additional required posters to display.

The following links provide access to the posters or information about the posters:

All Employers Must Display the Following Posters

Certain Industries Must Also Display the Following Posters

Public Employees: New York State Department of Labor Division of Safety & Health Public Employees Job Safety & Health Protection Poster

Every employer engaged in the sale or service of food or beverages must post the following two posters:

Deductions from Wages

Tip Appropriation

Construction contractors must post the following:

Prevailing Wage Rate

The current Prevailing Rate Schedule must be:

Posted on the site of the public work project where workers can see and access it

Encased in, or made of, weatherproof materials

Titled “PREVAILING RATE OF WAGES” in letters at least 2 inches by 2 inches

Public Work Poster

Construction Industry Fair Play Act (English)

Construction Industry Fair Play Act (Spanish)

Get Legal Help to Deal with Employment Law Compliance

If you have questions as to whether you are incompliance with employment laws, consult with an experienced employment defense attorney. Stephen Hans & Associates offers seasoned legal guidance to assist business owners with employment issues.


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March 29, 2018
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Job Termination: What Should You Know?
by cjleclaire
Feb 16, 2018 | 24487 views | 0 0 comments | 500 500 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Frequently Asked Questions About Job Termination

Deciding to fire or layoff an employee is often a tough decision. Sometimes employees have adverse reactions and retaliate if they believe the termination was unjust.

Here are some answers to common questions about termination provided by the New York Labor Law website:

Does New York State have “employment-at-will”?

New York is an employment-at-will state, which means if your employment contract has no restrictions against terminating an employee’s job, such as a union agreement, you can fire the employee for any reason and at any time. The employee can also resign without giving notice and suffer no legal repercussions. You can fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all.

However, you cannot fire an employee for reasons of discrimination based on the employee’s:

  • Race
  • Creed
  • National Origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status

Doing so violates the New York State Division of Human Rights, which is a division of the NY government that can sue you for discrimination.

Other statues, § 201-d and § 215, of the NY State Labor Law also prohibit termination based on:

  • Political or recreational activities outside of work
  • Legal use of consumable products outside of work
  • Membership in a union
  • For complaints made to the employer, Commissioner of Labor or Commissioner’s representative about provisions that are covered in the NY Labor Law.

Shot of a businessman standing in front of a window using a digital tablet

What is your responsibility for giving terminated employees their last paycheck?

You must pay the employees’ paychecks by the regular payday for the last pay period that the employees worked. If employees request that the paycheck be mailed, the employer must mail it.

When you decide to lay off employees, must you give notice of termination?

In 2008, the NY legislature passed the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires the following:

Employers in the private sector who have 50 or more employees (part-time employees excluded) must provide at least 90 days notice before closing their business. This refers to shutting down a single site of employment that results in laying off 25 or more full-time employees during any 30-day period. Employers must send a WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.

If employers are doing a mass layoff (excluding part-time employees) but not closing down the business, they must still provide at least a 90 days notice about the layoff when the layoff affects 33 percent of the workforce (at least 25 workers) or 250 workers from a single employment site. Employers must send the WARN notice to employees, their representatives, the State Labor Department and local workforce investment partners.

Stephen Hans & Associates  provides decades of experience to business owners with employment related issues.

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by cjleclaire
Feb 08, 2018 | 24457 views | 0 0 comments | 811 811 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

FAQ for Restaurant Owners

For restaurant owners, who are busy running their day-to-day business, New York Labor laws can seem like an added burden. Having access to a NY employment defense lawyer is often vital to navigate the laws and make your business successful.

According to the NY State Department of Labor, here are some frequently asked questions employers often ask:

Can you require employees to wear uniforms?

Yes, you can. What is considered a uniform? Black slacks and white shirts are not uniforms. A shirt with the company insignia or custom-made slacks and shirts would be considered uniforms. If your worker’s pay is minimum wage, then the cost of buying the uniform and taking care of it cannot bring the employee below the minimum wage rate. Employers must either clean and take care of the uniforms or pay their employees to care for them.

Are you limited by the number of hours an employee can work in a day?

Except for children under 18, there are no limitations on how many hours in a day an employee can work. There also are no limitations on how early or late an employer can ask an employee to work. However, in the restaurant industry, an employee must have 24 hours of rest one day in a calendar week. This does not apply to small, rural restaurants.

What are the rules for giving workers meal breaks?

For work shifts of more than six hours that begin before 11:00 a.m. and continue until 2:00 p.m., the workers must be provided with an uninterrupted lunch period of at least half an hour between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Employers do not have to pay for meal periods, and they do not have to provide other breaks for workers. However, if an employer permits a break of up to 20 minutes, then the employer must count it as work time and pay the employee.

Do You Have Other Questions about NY Labor Laws that Apply to Your Business?

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to explain the laws, offer legal guidance, and provide representation for employment dispute issues.

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February 23, 2018
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by cjleclaire
Jan 25, 2018 | 23089 views | 0 0 comments | 782 782 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Anti-Harassment Policies and Complaint Procedures

Your employment attorney can assist you with the wording for an anti-harassment policy, especially if you are currently dealing with harassment issues in your business and are seeking legal counsel.

Writing Anti-Harassment Policies

What should you include in a sexual harassment policy?

According to the EEOC, all kinds of harassment can occur in the workplace and sexual harassment is a specific type of discrimination. You want your policy to be broad enough to cover all types of harassment that violate federal law. Harassment involving any type of discrimination is illegal in the workplace. Therefore your policy should state that the employer does not tolerate any harassment based on the following:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Harassment based on opposition to discrimination or complaint proceedings
  • Retaliation against anyone complaining of harassment or participating in an investigation

Harassment Complaint Procedures

Establishing a procedure for dealing with harassment complaints is vital to protect employees and also to protect your business.

What elements should your complaint procedure incorporate?

First of all, as the employer, you should encourage your employees to report harassment. Doing so can help you prevent harassment from becoming severe or widespread.

You should appoint more than one official to take complaints and make sure the officials are accessible for employees — readily available and in locations where employees can contact them. You can decide and designate which officials are appropriate to hear complaints and also make sure that the supervisors hearing complaints report them to management.

Make sure that supervisors and other management personnel protect the confidentiality of the employee who is complaining. While this may not always be possible in every instance, try as much as possible to make confidentiality part of the procedure.

Should you limit reporting complaints to immediate supervisors?

This type of limitation could be detrimental, especially if the supervisor is party to the harassment. Designating an official outside the employee’s chain of command is preferable, and that way you have a better chance of ensuring there is impartial handling of complaints.

Do You Have Other Questions about Dealing with Sexual Harassment Issues in Your Business?

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to answer your questions, offer legal advise, and if necessary, represent you in employment dispute issues.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Investigation
by cjleclaire
Jan 23, 2018 | 19741 views | 0 0 comments | 645 645 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

How Should You Conduct Harassment Investigations?

It is vital to conduct an investigation as soon as possible when an employer receives a complaint of sexual harassment (or any other type of discrimination harassment). Delays in investigating can be viewed as neglect and as a failure to take effective measures to prevent harassment in the workplace, which makes employers vulnerable to sexual harassment claims.

harassment Q & A

What Comprises an Effective Investigation?

The EEOC  recommends that employers incorporate the following into their investigations to ensure prompt and effective investigations:

Ensure the investigation is conducted immediately, thoroughly and with impartiality. Individuals who are alleged harassers should have no control, whether direct or indirect, over the investigation.

  • Those who should be interviewed during the investigation include:
  • The employee complaining about harassment
  • The alleged harasser(s)

Anyone with relevant information or who would be expected to have reasonable information about the harassment.

sexual harassment in the workplace, is the employer responsible

Ask the Complainant, Alleged Harassers and Witnesses Specific Questions

The following are some examples of specific questions that the EEOC suggests employers ask during a harassment investigation:

Questions for Complainant

  • Who, what, when, where, and how: Who committed the alleged harassment? What exactly occurred or was said? When did it occur and is it still ongoing? Where did it occur? How often did it occur? How did it affect you?
  • How did you react? What response did you make when the incident(s) occurred or afterwards?
  • How did the harassment affect you? Has your job been affected in any way?
  • Are there any persons who have relevant information? Was anyone present when the alleged harassment occurred? Did you tell anyone about it? Did anyone see you immediately after episodes of alleged harassment?
  • Did the person who harassed you harass anyone else? Do you know whether anyone complained about harassment by that person?
  • Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
  • How would you like to see the situation resolved?
  • Do you know of any other relevant information?

was there harassment

Questions for the Alleged Harasser

  • What is your response to the allegations?
  • If the harasser claims that the allegations are false, ask why the complainant might lie.
  • Are there any persons who have relevant information?
  • Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
  • Do you know of any other relevant information?

Questions for Witnesses

  • What did you see or hear? When did this occur? Describe the alleged harasser’s behavior toward the complainant and toward others in the workplace.
  • What did the complainant tell you? When did s/he tell you this?
  • Do you know of any other relevant information?
  • Are there other persons who have relevant information?

Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of experience assisting business owners with employment related issues.

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January 27, 2018
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by cjleclaire
Jan 18, 2018 | 19127 views | 0 0 comments | 684 684 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Q&A that Applies to Sexual Harassment in Small Business Environments

If you are a small business owner, you may wonder how to protect your small business from sexual harassment and resulting claims that put your business at risk.

Here are some questions and answers (Q&A) that are a good place to start when dealing with sexual harassment.

This Q&A relates to harassment by supervisors:

Who is considered a supervisor?

Any individual who has the authority to recommend tangible employment decisions affecting the employee is a supervisor. Tangible employment decisions include significant employment actions that change an employee’s status, such as:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Work assignment
  • Undesirable reassignment
  • Significant benefits changes
  • Compensation decisions

When are employers liable for a supervisor’s sexual harassment?

Whenever a supervisor engages in harassment that results in a tangible employment action, the employers are always liable. When no tangible employment action occurs, employers are still liable unless they can show the following:

  • They took reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment.
  • The employee reasonably failed to complain to management or failed to otherwise avoid harm.

What steps should employers take to prevent and correct sexual harassment?

Employers need to establish policy that prohibits harassment, put it in writing and pass it out to all employers.

Employers should create procedures for making complaints and notify employees.

When a business is sufficiently small that the owner is regularly in contact with all employees, the employer does not have to put policies in writing. Employers can tell employees at staff meetings that harassment is not allowed, that employees should report harassment immediately and they can even report incidents of harassment directly to the owner.

The business should conduct a prompt investigation when harassment is reported.

When sexual harassment is discovered, the discipline for the offending employee should be comparable to the extent and type of harassment.

As much as possible, the employer should keep the harassed employee’s identity confidential. Otherwise, if the offender retaliates against the reporting employee, the company could be held liable for the retaliation.

(This Q&A applies to all types of harassment, not just sexual harassment and more information is available in the EEOC article, Questions and Answers for Small Employers on Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisors ).

Are You Dealing with Sexual Harassment Issues in Your Business?

Stephen Hans & Associates can offer valuable legal assistance to help you protect your business. Our attorneys have more than 20 years of experience defending employers.

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divya sharma
April 13, 2018
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by cjleclaire
Dec 29, 2017 | 22300 views | 0 0 comments | 594 594 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Most people assume that restaurant workers would be thrilled about a raise in the minimum wage, but that restaurant owners would not be in favor of it.

An interesting situation took place in Maine last summer that is worthy of note regarding minimum wages. According to The Washington Post , the Maine House voted to lower minimum wages for tipped restaurant workers based on the workers’ request. The bill to reduce their minimum wages passed and restaurant workers were happy about it.

Restaurant servers in Maine had campaigned to overturn the results of a November referendum that would’ve raised servers’ hourly wages from $3.75 in 2016 to $12 by 2024. They believed that such a raise would result in customers tipping less and consequently lower overall income.

In addition, servers in New York, Massachusetts and D.C. were also beginning to move politically against minimum wage increases for servers in their states.

restaurant minimum wage increase

The Explanation Behind Wanting a Low Minimum Wage

Restaurant labor models differ from most industries. When tipped workers’ wages fall below the minimum wage, the employer must pay the difference. However, whether restaurants actually adhere that requirement or not is rather uncertain. Servers who make most of their income in tips do not want to upset management or change what is working well for them.

Some servers believed that the added expenses of higher minimum wages for restaurant owners would result in raising prices and cutting work shifts, which would ultimately result in people tipping less, servers working less and lower incomes. Some workers stated that they witnessed customers tipping less after the referendum passed.

It’s also possible that a raise in minimum wage would balance out and offset reduced tipping by customers. Most likely, servers working in rural diners would have benefited from a minimum wage hike, but servers who stood the most to lose were those making $20 to $25 per hour and working at higher end restaurants. These were the workers that became politically activated to oppose the minimum wage raise.

Do You Have Concerns as a Restaurant Owner?

Stephen Hans & Associates has assisted employers for more than two decades with employment issues, including lawsuits involving wage and hour disputes.

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divya sharma
April 11, 2018
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Judge Roy Moore and the Sexual Allegations He Faces
by cjleclaire
Dec 18, 2017 | 19205 views | 0 0 comments | 438 438 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

What could be more damning for a political career than allegations of sexual misconduct? In today’s media climate, sexual allegations are a powerful juggernaut to take down almost anyone’s political career. They are also a force to be reckoned with for company executives and other prominent figures.

Consequently, many companies and organizations are quick to cut ties with political figures or individuals in powerful positions who face credible sexual harassment allegations.

sexual harassment in the workplace

Details About the Sexual Allegations Brought Against Judge Moore

Recent allegations about Judge Moore indicate that back in the 1970s and early 1980s when he held the position of Assistant District Attorney, he was involved in sexual misconduct with young girls and one that was underage.

The Washington Post conducted an investigation and interviewed four women about alleged sexual misconduct on Moore’s part and posted its findings on November 9. At first, all the women were reluctant to discuss the matter. They did not know each other, but at the time of the alleged incidents they were between the ages of 14 and 18 and Moore was in his 30s.

Repercussions from the Media Exposure

According to a Fox News report, multiple republicans have requested that Moore step down from the December special election in Alabama, and the National Republic Senatorial Committee cut its fundraising ties with Moore.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders conveyed that the president does not plan to make an in-person appearance to support Moore. In addition, Vice President Pence indicated the allegations were disturbing and if true, it would disqualify anyone from serving in office.

Senator Mitch McConnell has stated he believes the allegations were true and asked Moore to step aside. Senator Cory Gardner has agreed and taken a further step by encouraging the Senate to “vote to expel” Moore if he wins the election. Another Senator who previously backed Moore, Senator Mike Lee of Utah has also withdrawn his endorsement.

Prevent Allegations of Sexual Harassment from Arising in Your Business

Employers dealing with harassment or discrimination issues should seek legal advice immediately. Stephen Hans & Associates  brings decades of experience to help business owners deal with sexual harassment and other discrimination issues.

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April 09, 2018


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