Author: dank

Dan Kalish is a partner and founder of HKM Employment Lawyers (www.hkm.com), an employment law firm that represents individuals nationwide. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, Dan frequently speaks and writes about issues related to employment law on hkm.com/employmentblog.

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Wage Theft and ‘Unapproved’ Overtime: Is Your Employer Stealing From You?

Once upon a time, there was a hardworking employee named Jane Doe. Jane’s employer had given her so much work, Jane had to work overtime to complete all her tasks. Jane diligently completed her work, putting in the required overtime hours to do so. Then, Jane requested overtime pay from her employer....
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The Hidden Costs of Makeup: Taxed If You Wear It and Taxed If You Don’t

The gender wage gap is an enduring problem that has attracted much attention. But lately, researchers have been taking a closer look at some other, less well-known gender disparities. A recent article in The Atlantic discussed the fact that women who choose not to wear makeup at work may lose out on...
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What You Should Know About Pay Transparency in the Workplace

The conversation about pay transparency has been buzzing recently after a couple of Google employees attempted to create online methods through which they and their co-workers could share their salaries with one another internally, in order to ensure that everyone was getting paid what they deserved. However, despite Google’s assurance that employees...
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5 Reasons Employees Get Denied for Workers’ Compensation

Millions of Americans across the nation spend their days working in risky environments. Many workers push their physical limits every day, lifting, pushing, pulling, crouching, and crawling. Some are exposed to dangerous fumes, sharp objects, extreme heights, and harsh elements. Even in seemingly safe environments, employees can still be at risk of...
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What You Need to Know About Furloughs

In an ideal world, there would be no issues regarding compensation for work. You would go to work when you are supposed to, and in exchange, your employer would pay you your agreed-upon wage when he or she was supposed to do so. Unfortunately, due to problems of budgetary mismanagement on employers’...
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What You Need to Know Employment Discrimination After the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

One of the major frontiers in the fight for equality for people of all sexual orientations has been the battle for marriage equality. The United States Supreme Court has now finally ruled that same-sex couples have the same marriage rights nationwide as their opposite-sex counterparts. Unfortunately, this is far from the end...
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What You Should Know About Religious Headwear in the Workplace

Religion plays a fundamental role in many people’s lives. For some, practicing religion is a much more active process than just attending services. Some religions require adherents to wear specific clothing, for example. This can create issues when a religious person seeks out employment, because those of a mind to discriminate based...
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Prospective Employers Asking for W-2 Forms: A Cover for Discrimination?

In the current economy, the hiring process and salary negotiations are already slanted toward employers and against employees. This makes a new trend among employers to require potential hires to provide previous W-2 forms – sometimes years’ worth of them – particularly worrying. But is it illegal? (Photo Credit: pakorn/freedigitalphotos.net) Is Requiring...
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What You Should Know About the Whistleblower Protection Act

Whistleblowers are a vital part of our society. Without them, corruption and unfair and unsafe practices would continue unabated. These brave men and women have differing legal protections based upon what they blow the whistle on, whom they blow the whistle on, and where they live. One law that protects some is...
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Your Right to Compare Salaries

How do employers get away with paying a protected class of employee less than other workers, despite laws that make it illegal? By allowing each staff member to negotiate his or her own salary, and then discouraging employees from sharing salary information. This discouragement interferes with your ability to prove discrimination. Fortunately,...
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Covert Discrimination: What You Need to Know About Coded Job Listings

Sometimes employment discrimination is obvious; for example, a particularly bigoted manager or supervisor may use racial slurs or explicitly admit to discriminatory intent. Those cases are rare, however. More often than not it is much harder to prove employment discrimination because employers who want to discriminate have become quite good at hiding...
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What You Need to Know About Genetic Information Discrimination

Most people have heard of discrimination based on race, sex, age, and disability. However, you may not have ever heard of genetic information discrimination unless you have been a victim of this sort of illegal employment practice or know someone who has.   (Photo Credit: Miki Yoshihito/Flickr) What Is Genetic Information Discrimination?...
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You Can Be a Victim of Employment Discrimination Without Even Working

We often think of employment discrimination as being something that happens to people who already have jobs. A woman may be denied a raise because of her sex, or an older person may be forced into retirement because of his age. But employment discrimination also happens on the front end of employment,...
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What You Need to Know About Your Right to Unionize

Unions’ position in America has changed drastically over the last few generations. Large swaths of our population used to work in industries like manufacturing and many of those industries were unionized. Then companies began outsourcing jobs to other countries, and more and more Americans found themselves in service industry positions that often...
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How the Civil Rights Act Protects Transgender Workers

For generations, transgender individuals facing workplace discrimination have had little legal recourse. While a small number of jurisdictions have passed local anti-discrimination laws, federal laws were rarely used to protect transgender people. However, that is changing.  (Photo Credit: torbakhopper/Flickr) Florida Eye Clinic Settles Suit Over Allegations of Discrimination Against Transgender Worker The...
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Non-Competes: Not Just for Executives Anymore

Non-compete agreements are provisions that are traditionally included in the contracts of executives and tech employees who work with sensitive trade secrets. These agreements prevent these high-level, and usually well-compensated, employees from immediately going into competition with their employer should they leave the company. While these agreements stifle competition, there are arguments...
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Is Not Being Pregnant a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification for Exotic Dancers?

A bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) is a defense to most types of discrimination. If the employer can show that the very nature of the job actually requires the characteristic that is leading to the otherwise illegal discrimination, the employer will have a defense. For example, airlines have argued unsuccessfully that being...
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Served in the Military? Here Are 4 Things You Need to Know About the USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994 is a federal statute that protects veterans and servicemembers from being discriminated against due to their military status in the civilian employment arena. This statute typically protects two groups of people: (1) reservists who have military responsibilities and a civilian job...
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How Sneaky Employers Get Away With Pretextual Workplace Discrimination, and What It Means for You

Usually when we think about workplace discrimination, we think about discrimination based on gender, sex, race, disability, age, religion, or sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Act, the American With Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and various state and local laws make each of these types of discrimination illegal in...
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What Counts as Being on the Clock?

Most people have heard of the 40-hour work week. While some European nations have shorter work weeks for employees, in many American jobs employees expect (and are entitled) to be paid overtime at a rate of one and a half times their regular hourly pay rate for every hour they work over...
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Religious Discrimination at Work: What Are the Rules?

Religious discrimination is one area of discrimination that is often mentioned in the news, yet is a very complex and abstract topic. Particularly where one individual’s religious beliefs conflict with another individual’s exercise of his or her rights, the subject area can become confusing. That is why it is important for employees...
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Just How Common Is Age Discrimination?

Race- and sex-based discrimination are such hot topics in the media that one can easily forget that other types of employment discrimination are all too commonplace. While the number of age discrimination cases in the United States is dropping a little bit as the economy improves, the numbers are still shockingly high....
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What Men Need to Know About Sex Discrimination Laws: They Are Protected, Too

Usually when people think about sex discrimination, they think about discrimination against women. After all, most sex discrimination laws were enacted in order to alleviate discrimination against women who enter the workforce. However, while women may be the most obvious beneficiaries of these laws, men are protected by them as well. The...
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The Obamacare Employer Mandate: What Employees Need to Know

Americans have differing opinions on the Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare. Last year, the individual mandate went into effect, which required a large percentage of Americans to obtain health insurance or risk having to pay a penalty when tax time arrives. This year, a similarly contentious part...
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No Paid Sick Leave? What You Need to Know About the Healthy Families Act

Despite the reality that everyone gets sick at some point and the fact that public health experts advise us to stay home when it happens to us, there are still many workers in the United States who do not have any paid sick leave. For many working-class and middle-class employees, this means...
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What You Do Outside Work Can Get You Fired

The recent firing of Atlanta’s fire chief shows that what you do on your own time can still get you fired. While the details of the story bring up questions about religious discrimination as well as potential discrimination based on sexual orientation, at its heart is an employer’s decision to fire an...
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Association Discrimination: The ADA Does Not Just Protect Disabled People

Typically, when people think of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), they think of two parts of it: the part that protects disabled people from workplace discrimination and the part that requires buildings to take steps to be accessible to disabled people. What most people do not realize is that there is...
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Even Great Employees Can Be Fired for a Single Mistake

We like to think that employers take an employee’s whole record into account when making a decision as to whether the employee should lose his or her job. But sometimes just one mistake can be enough to end an employment relationship, which can be absolutely devastating for the employee. (Photo Credit: WarmSleepy/Flickr)...
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Ban the Box: What You Need to Know About Your Employment Rights and Criminal Convictions

Whether you are applying to serve fast food, work on a construction site, style hair, teach, or be a tattoo artist, almost all job applications have had one thing in common for years. They ask the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” And whether your answer is yes because...
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What You Don’t Know About Labor Laws: Most Workers Don’t Receive Holiday Pay

With the holiday season upon us, many business are extending their hours. While this is convenient for shoppers and provides some otherwise unemployed workers with seasonal employment, it also comes with longer hours and sometimes extremely inconvenient hours for workers. Some jobs, unfortunately, must be performed on holidays, like those of emergency...
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What You Need to Know About the Gender Pay Gap

There is a seemingly constant debate over the “wage gap” in the United States — whether it exists, why it exists, how large it is, if it does exist. The wage gap represents the average difference in wages paid to men versus wages paid to women. You may have heard the (sometimes...
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Supreme Court Hears Pregnancy Discrimination Case: What You Need to Know About Young v. UPS

In early December, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard an extremely important case for pregnant workers. The question is whether pregnant women are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Peggy Young, the woman who started the suit, argues that they are, while her former employer, UPS, argues...
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When Discrimination Is Allowed: About Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications

As a general rule, employers are not allowed to discriminate based on certain factors like sex and sometimes age. However, what many people do not understand is that anti-discrimination laws like the Civil Rights Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act actually do allow for discrimination under some circumstances. One time...
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Adult Dancers Receive $10M Settlement in Minimum Wage Class Action Suit

Every state has different wage laws. Some have substantially higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage, while others do not. Some states allow employers to pay tipped employees less than the normal minimum wage, while others do not. But a recent case involving New York City adult dancers points out that...
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What You Don’t Know About Age Discrimination

When people think of employment discrimination, they often think of discrimination based on race, gender, or disability. But age discrimination is very real. On the federal level, these claims are covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA. Indeed, ADEA claims continue to rise every year, and many think this...
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3 Things You May Not Know About FMLA

The FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. It is the main federal law that employees in the United States rely on when they need an extended period of time off from their jobs for maternity leave, or extended sick leave, or in order to care for an ill...
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3 Things You Didn’t Know About Overtime

On its face, overtime seems like it’s a fairly simple subject. In most jobs, if you work more than 40 hours in a given work week, you get paid at least time and a half for all of the hours worked over the basic 40-hour work week. But in this era of...
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EEOC Sues 2 Companies for Alleged Discrimination Against Transgender Employees

Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been suing employers who discriminate based on sex. Now, more than 50 years after the act’s passage, the EEOC has finally filed two lawsuits claiming sex discrimination where employers have allegedly discriminated against employees...
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Are Forced Wellness Incentive Participation Programs Illegal?

While some people are now obtaining health insurance through other means under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans still get their coverage through their employer. As the cost of health insurance premiums continues to rise, more insurers and employers are beginning to offer wellness incentive programs. The general idea is that if...
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3 Lessons for Employees From the Ray Rice Case

You almost surely have heard of the Ray Rice scandal. In a nutshell, for those who have not followed the story, Ray Rice was a player for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Earlier this year, he was criminally charged for a domestic violence incident involving his then fiance (now wife) in an elevator....
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Costco Allegedly Tells Female Employer to Be Friendly to Her Stalker

Costco, one of the nation’s leading retail warehouse chains, stands accused of sex discrimination. The Glenview Announcements reports that a lawsuit filed in Chicago this week accuses Costco of creating a sexually hostile work environment.   (Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net) “Be Friendly” to the Stalker According to the Equal Employment Opportunity...
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Food Lion Accused of Religious Discrimination

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Food Lion, a supermarket chain, stands accused of workplace discrimination based on religion. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a discrimination lawsuit against the chain claiming that it fired a Jehovah’s Witness because the worker requested days off due to his religious beliefs. In...
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Continuing the Sandwich Wage Theft Trend

Red Eye, a Chicago news weekly, reports that yet another fast food submarine sandwich chain franchise has been accused of cheating its workers out of the wages to which they are entitled. This time, the center of the allegations is a Jimmy John’s franchise.   (Photo Credit: nateOne/Flickr) Jimmy John’s Sandwich Franchise...
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Suit Claims Subway Franchise Made up Fake Employees to Avoid Paying Overtime

The Huffington Post reports that a man is suing a Subway franchise, alleging that rather than paying him the overtime he was due, his boss created fake employees. (Photo Credit: pakorn/freedigitalphotos.net) According to the complaint filed by Erwin Zambrano Moya, he worked at a Subway location in Washington D.C. for nearly two...
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Hobby Lobby Alleged to Have Fired Woman for Wanting Time Off to Give Birth

Hobby Lobby, a craft supply store, has been all over the news recently for its stances on pregnancy. Earlier this year, in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Hobby Lobby was able to convince the United States Supreme Court that it, a corporation, was capable of having religious beliefs,...
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Looking for a New Job? It Could Get You Fired

Sick of your current job, and thinking about looking for something better? Then you may want to save up enough to pay your bills for a few months, just in case your job searching gets you fired. While many people think they can only be fired for looking for a new job...
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Facebook Can Get You Fired

Sometimes, we like to think that freedom of speech gives us the right to say what we want to our friends without having to face any consequences. Unfortunately, the law does not see things that way. Our freedom of speech, provided by the First Amendment, only protects us from the government preventing...
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What to Do Right After You Have Been Fired or Laid Off

It’s Friday morning and there is an eerie feeling going around the office. People seem on edge, and your boss is communicating with you via sternly worded emails that are direct and to the point. Some of these emails may even criticize your recent job performance. You may even know that you’ve...