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April 2012 Archives

Can Your Credit Score Affect Your Employment?

The short answer is "Yes." But there are some protections. The Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") requires employers to jump through some hoops if they intend to take adverse employment action against an individual based on credit information. If an employer fails to follow the law, the individual may be entitled to damages and attorney's fees. An employer may rely on credit reports. An employer may obtain a credit report for the purposes of making employment decisions. 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(a)(3)(B). Such employment decisions include hiring, promotion, reassignment or retention. 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(h).

Waiters and Tipped Employees Often Shorted Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") provides that all non-exempt employees who work over 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to overtime pay at one-and-one-half times their regular hourly rate. 29 U.S.C. § 207. The FLSA also provides that all employees must be compensated a minimum hourly rate of at least $7.25 per hour. 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1)(C). However, each of these provisions is modified for tipped employees. A "tipped employee" is defined as a person who customarily and regularly receives $30 or more per month in tips. Generally, this includes waiters, valets, bartenders and similar professions. The modifications made for tipped employees have made things quite complicated for employers, to where both large chain restaurants like Chili's and small restaurants owned by world-famous chef Mario Batali have been alleged to violate the rules. If you are a tipped employee, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Disparate Impact: Unfair Policies without Discriminatory Intent

Generally, employment discrimination cases involve intentional acts on the part of an employer. Also called disparate treatment, when an employer wrongfully terminates, fails to hire, fails to promote, reduces hours, reduces pay or otherwise takes an adverse employment action against an employee based upon the employee's race, color, religion, sex or national origin, the employer violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Title VII also prohibits employment practices that appear to be non-discriminatory at first glance, but when applied, fall more harshly on one group of people when compared to another. In situations where an employment practice has such a disparate impact upon a protected group (i.e. race, color, etc.), the practice also violates Title VII. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(k). The following are a few notes about this often-overlooked illegal act:

iDOL - Keeping Track of Hours in the Workplace

In the age of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, businesses and individuals are finding new ways to make their lives simpler. Apple's App Store now offers over half a million apps, many of which are free or are only $0.99. These apps can entertain us, connect us to others, pay our bills, turn on our car or even tell us the name of the song playing over the radio. We can now add the Department of Labor  ("DOL") to the list of developers with apps available in Apple's App Store for free download. The app. In 2011, the DOL's Wage and Hour Division released its first app, DOL Timesheet. DOL Timesheet allows employees to record their hours worked and calculate the amount of wages that may be owed by their employer. The calculations include overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate of pay as provided for by the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). See 29 U.S.C. § 207.

Do you have a Qui Tam Case?

Passed in 1863, the False Claims Act ("FCA"), also known as the "Lincoln Law"--not to be confused with the Lincoln Lawyer, which was a fine movie starring Matthew McConaughey--provides a lucrative incentive for those who blow the whistle on companies who defraud the federal government. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-33. What does the FCA prohibit? The FCA (31 U.S.C. §3729) makes it illegal for a company (or individual) who:

What is the Definition of Sexual Harassment?

Misconceptions about sexual harassment hostile work environment claims are common. Many believe one off-color joke or sexual remark in the workplace can constitute sexual harassment, while others (including some judges) believe the workplace must be permeated with harassment of a sexual nature to constitute sexual harassment. The truth lies more vaguely in between Sexual harassment is conduct, jokes or remarks of a sexual nature that are so severe or pervasive they alter the terms, conditions or privileges of employment and create a hostile or abusive work environment. Clear now?

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