Stephen Hans Blog by cjleclaire
Employment and Labor Law Attorneys
Jan 16, 2013 | 5128 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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EEOC Clarifies the Use of Criminal Background Checks in Hiring
by cjleclaire
Mar 15, 2013 | 11831 views | 0 0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Hans & Associates, P.C. 

NBC News reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved by a four-to-one vote new rules for employers who use criminal background checks when screening candidates for hiring. The new guideline addresses the issue of workers who cannot obtain jobs or who lose jobs because of criminal records or arrests. It also addresses Title VII issues where protected classes receive disparate treatment.

Pepsi Beverages settled for $3.3 million in a case brought before the EEOC, according to a 2012 EEOC news release. The EEOC found Pepsi guilty of hiring discrimination against African Americans because it applied criminal background checks that disproportionately excluded African American applicants from permanent hire based on arrests ― even when they had not been convicted and an arrest was pending.

New EEOC guidelines require employers to obtain details about whether or not an applicant has a conviction, how long ago the individual served time and what the nature of the arrest or conviction was. There should be a different treatment of arrests and convictions. The new rules have the purpose of preventing racial and ethnic discrimination and to accomplish this, employers must only use criminal background checks when they can show that the checks are necessary for the business and are job-related.

If you have questions about applying this EEOC ruling and your liability for discrimination lawsuits when you do a criminal background check, consult an experienced New York employment defense lawyer. For decades, firm founder, Stephen Hans has helped businesses with hiring and discrimination issues.

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by cjleclaire
Mar 06, 2013 | 6288 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

What Does the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Think about the Proposed Minimum Wage Raise?

Author: Stephen D. Hans

In the State of the Union address, President Obama proposed that Congress should raise the federal minimum wage in stages from $7.25 to $9.00 by 2015. He also proposed continuing to raise the minimum wage based on the cost-of-living index. Raising tipped wages were also part of his proposal.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has traditionally opposed minimum wage increases. The NRA provides its own minimum wage overview and explains that restauranteurs must deal with the following challenges to stay solvent:

  • Impact of healthcare law
  • Rising food costs
  • Higher energy costs

Now on top of these concerns ― they face higher minimum wages. The NRA claims that based on the nature of the restaurant industry, raising the minimum wage will impair restauranteurs’ abilities to hire workers. Unlike some other industries, restaurants have high labor costs. Approximately 33 percent of restaurant sales go to cover labor. The pretax profit margin for a restaurant is generally around three to five percent. Most restaurant employees earn above the minimum wage. The statistics quoted in the article indicated that 80 percent of workers who earn the starting wage work part-time, and 70 percent are under age 25 and 46 percent are teenagers.

Stephen Hans of Hans & Associates, P.C. is a New York employment defense lawyer who for more than 30 years has provided affordable legal services to small and medium-sized business owners throughout Queens and New York City.

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by cjleclaire
Mar 06, 2013 | 5591 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Federal Judge States that Judicial Approval Not Necessary for FLSA Settlements

Author: Hans & Associates, P.C.

Typically, when parties would settle their disputes over Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) issues, such as minimum wage and overtime claims, they had to present their settlement agreement to a U.S. District judge for approval. Because judges routinely approved FLSA settlement agreements, the approval process became a perfunctory procedure. Today with strains on federal and state budgets, courts and other agencies sustaining heavy workloads feel the financial crunch and the need to make processes more efficient. Reuters reported on a ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, who rendered a decision that parties in FSLA disputes can settle and voluntarily dismiss cases without judicial approval. Of course, employers do so at their own risk that any release may not be considered effective in future litigation. There is a substantial body of precedent that holding that, when employers settle an FLSA dispute without Department of Labor (DOL) or court approval, the same employee still has the legal right to bring another lawsuit.

Reuters quoted Attorney Stephen Hans in the article as saying that while this judge’s decision is not binding on other courts, it may compel other judges to follow suit. When judges routinely do not alter settlements, why should they cost clients the time to go down to the courthouse for a judge’s seal of approval?

It is a fact that wage and hour cases in federal courts are multiplying like amoebas. Removing the barriers to reaching settlements is a boon for both the court system and parties to FSLA cases because it saves time and expense for everyone.

At Hans & Associates, our New York employment defense lawyers stay current with employment law changes that affect business owners. We devote a significant part of our practice to litigating wage and hour disputes.

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Keeping up with Regulatory Rulings that Affect the Restaurant Industry
by cjleclaire
Feb 26, 2013 | 6782 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Hans & Associates, P.C.

With the plethora of government regulations, restauranteurs caught up in the every day activities of running a restaurant hardly have time to stay apprised of new restaurant industry regulations. Even so, they must know about changing regulations and the impact on their business.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in December 2012 that "food allergies may constitute a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)." Previously in October 2009, the DOH received a complaint alleging that Leslie University had violated the ADA by not making modifications in its polices that would permit students with celiac disease and/or food allergies to enjoy the university's food service and meal plan program. The DOJ investigated and reviewed the complaint and subsequently formed an agreement with Lesley University in Cambridge. The university agreed to offer non-allergic food options to students with celiac disease and other food allergies.

Learning about this ruling, people in the restaurant industry became concerned how the ruling would affect their businesses. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the DOJ indicated that under the ADA restaurants may have to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with food allergies as long as it did not fundamentally alter the restaurant's operation. The DOJ clarified that restaurants may have to answer questions about ingredients but not necessarily provide alternative options.

At Hans & Associates, we keep pace with regulatory changes and rulings that affect the restaurant industry. Our New York employment defense lawyers can help you stay up-to-date and assist you with compliance and regulatory issues.

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by cjleclaire
Feb 14, 2013 | 4060 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Document Abuse vs. Hiring Illegal Aliens

Author: Hans & Associates, P.C.

According to a New York Times article  quoting the Pew Hispanic Center, about 20 percent of the nearly 2.6 million chefs, head cooks and cooks in the restaurant industry are illegal immigrants. PEW also estimates 28 percent of the 360,000 dishwashers are also undocumented. Yet restaurant owners have a fine line to walk because many illegal immigrants have fake Social Security cards, green cards, identity cards or other false documentation. A restaurant owner has no way of knowing for sure whether the individual is illegal or not unless the government audits the business’s I-9  forms to verify authenticity.

The other side of the coin is that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from discriminating against immigrants when hiring, firing or recruiting. In addition, employers may be brought up on discrimination charges alleging “document abuse” if they question the immigrant’s documents or require more documentation than the law requires. The law only requires immigrants to provide employers with any one of a number of certain documents, such as the following:

  • An expired or unexpired U.S. passport
  • A green card (permanent resident card)
  • An unexpired Employment Authorization Document with photo
  • A state identification card along with an unrestricted Social Security card

By requiring more documents than a Form I-9 requires or not accepting documents listed in the I-9, an immigrant an employer is at risk for a document abuse or discrimination lawsuit.

Hans & Associates, P.C. helps restaurant owners and other businesses deal with legal issues such as this one. For decades, firm founder, Stephen Hans has helped businesses put proper compliances in place and resolve disputes effectively and affordably outside of court.

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What Are the Restaurant Industry’s Greatest Challenges for 2013?
by cjleclaire
Jan 30, 2013 | 11192 views | 1 1 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Hans & Associates, P.C.

According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), more than 13 million U.S. employees work in the restaurant industry. In a recent NRA news release, the economical forecast was that the restaurant industry would continue lead in sales and job growth in 2013, outpacing employment in other industries and helping to drive the U.S. economy.

The NRA expects the most pressing challenges the industry faces to be the following:

§  Food costs. With wholesale food costs on the rise and continuing to rise, restauranteurs must come up with innovative solutions to reduce inefficiency and increase productivity so they can keep menu prices down.

§  Economy. A slow economy has kept many people who would like to dine out from doing so. Research shows that two out of five consumers would use restaurants more in a better economy.

§  Healthcare reform. Restaurants are struggling to figure out how to afford the new impending healthcare reform. Typically, one-third of a restaurant's income goes to food and one-third to labor costs, which makes pre-tax profit margins around three to five percent.

The NRA projects that by 2023 the restaurant industry will add 1.3 million new positions and grow at a 2.4 percent rate, which is significantly higher than the projected overall employment growth rate of 1.5 percent.

Individually, restaurant owners face their own challenges of complying with employment law regulations such as wage an hour laws. New York employment defense lawyers at Hans & Associates help business owners deal with employment and other legal issues to keep their businesses operating and viable.

 

 
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godfather
|
February 01, 2013
The challenges for 2013 is simple. They are the Number Challenges each year for decades. No mater what Restaurant, it is always been a factor that customers should be aware of.

1) NO SOAP OR HAND TOWELS IN THE BATHROOMS?

2) THE OVERALL APPEARANCE OF THE EMPLOYEE SERVING YOU FOOD?

3) MOST IMPORTANTLY NOT ONLY THE LOOKS OF APPEARANCE OF THE KITCHEN HELP/COOKS,ETC. BUT THERE HABITS OF BEING CLEAN IS NOT STRESSED ENOUGH BY OWNERS/MANAGERS. THROW IN NO SOAP/ HAND TOWELS IN THE BATHROOMS AND YOU ARE ASKING FOR SOMETHING, LIKE THE FLU, FOOD POISING,ETC. ( AND DO THEY REALLY WASH THE LETTUCE AND OTHER VEGETABLES FOR SALDS?

PERSONAL NOTE: MY OPINION, HOWEVER IT SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY WITHOUT A DOUBT IN YOUR MIND.

SALAD BARS/ OPEN FOOD AREA BARS/DESERTS BARS-WHERE ANYONE COULD SNEEZE MOMENTS BEFORE YOU TAKE A DISHFUL OF WHATEVER. ESPECIALLY DURING FLU SEASON.

AND THE WORST OFFENDER OF ALL ARE YOUR LOCAL CHINESE TAKE OUT PLACES. OH GOD, WHAT I HAVE WITNESSED PERSONALLY IS ENOUGH TO NEVER ORDER TAKE OUT FOOD AGAIN. (PREPARING CHICKEN DISHES IN ROUND WAKS, THEN THEY RINSE IT WITH WATER WHEN THEY ARE DONE, *NOT USING SOAP?

Why the EEOC Handled More Claims in 2011 than in Any Year in Its History
by cjleclaire
Jan 16, 2013 | 11378 views | 1 1 comments | 810 810 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Author: Hans & Associates, P.C.

“Queens NY Employment Defense Attorneys”

At the end of the September 30, 2011 fiscal year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release stating that it handled more employment claims in 2011 than in any other year in its 46-year history. Highlights of the statistical breakdown were:

  • A 10 percent decrease in the EEOC’s pending charge inventory, the first such reduction since 2002
  • A record set in 2011 for the highest number of discrimination claims ever received — 99,947
  • Historic high for relief delivered through administrative enforcement of more than $346 million for workplace discrimination charges
  • 5.4 million individuals benefiting through EEOC’s federal and private enforcement programs
  • 540,000 individuals directly reached through the EEOC’s public outreach and education programs
  • Historic highs reached through EEOC’s private sector mediation programs, obtaining $170 million in monetary benefits for complainants
  • Highest number of mediation resolutions ever obtained — 9,831 resolutions, a five percent increase over 2010

Inventory had built up as EEOC staffing declined by 30 percent between the fiscal years 2000 and 2008. Increases in EEOC staffing resources over the past two years allowed the EEOC to obtain these new statistical records. We still wait to see an overview of the EEOC’s fiscal year 2012 statistics.

If you are a restaurant or other business owner, the increased actions on the part of the EEOC should serve as a warning to ensure employment law compliance. We understand that many business owners unwittingly violate laws in an effort to deal with a tight economy. An NYC employment defense lawyer can help you adopt sound employment practices and avoid disputes. Hans & Associates, P.C. works with small and medium-sized business owners throughout New York City to protect their business interests and fight litigation.

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Chris DeGroff
|
January 17, 2013
The EEOC's FY 2012 actually showed a sharp drop in EEOC-initiated cases - down to only 122. This dramatic drop can be tied to a series of litigation setbacks in 2011-2012 for the agency and an inventory of cases that outstripped the EEOC's budget.

To read more, visit Seyfarth Shaw's blog at www.workplaceclassaction.com.

Here is a link to a post discussing the FY2012 year-end figures:

http://www.workplaceclassaction.com/eeoc-litigation/the-eeocs-fy2012-numbers-released-commission-housecleaning-sets-the-stage-for-a-focused-and-aggressi/


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