New “Sheriff” Coming to New York City Commission on Human Rights

In a blog post from March 2014, I discussed the pros and cons of filing a claim with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. That post focused on the election of remedies aspect of filing an employment discrimination claim and the potential risk of a Commission’s finding of no probable cause. This finding can often act as a bar to filing a discrimination lawsuit in New York State Court.

Aside from this apparent negative, there are others (which I have detailed below); but with the appointment of a new commissioner to lead the Commission, the tide may be turning.

Ms. Malalis, a former plaintiff’s employment attorney, has vowed to enforce the New York City Human Rights law and to invigorate the habitually underfinanced agency, which primarily serves residents who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers.

With that said, the current statistics speak volumes. New York City only finances 11 positions at the Commission, while the federal government provides funding for an additional 55 positions. This is highly concerning and may explain why most claims that get processed through the commission take well over the one-year timeframe.

Additionally, according to city statistics, the Commission received 4,975 inquiries from the public in 2014, but formally opened only 633 cases. Of the cases resolved that year, only 10 percent were found to have probable cause to move forward. This is a vastly underwhelming number and that is why I urge prospective clients to carefully measure whether they should pursue their claim via the Commission. It’s always best to discuss these matters with a qualified employment attorney before proceeding.

As always, if you believe you or your family member was and/or has been discriminated against in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact the employment discrimination attorneys at Risman & Risman, P.C. at (212) 233-6400 or contact us online.

Wage Increases Coming for Tipped Workers in New York

In a very courageous push by New York State legislators and the Governor, New York has finally made a move to provide higher wages for the state’s lowest-paid workers. This new regulation will most benefits servers, which include, waiters, waitresses and others who work for tips, and will be soon be receiving a raise of their minimum wage to $7.50 an hour.

This increase will go in effect at the end of 2015. The regulation will result in the merger of three categories of tipped workers — whose minimum hourly wages range from $4.90 to $5.65 — into a single class to be paid at least $7.50 an hour.

The restaurant industry has quickly criticized the wage increase as too large and counterproductive. Major complaints have revolved around owners claiming that they will not be able to absorb the cost increase or pass all of it along to their customers in the form of price increases. They further claim that this increase will lead to layoffs. Personally, I would be comfortable with paying a little extra for my meal knowing that the workers serving me will not require living hand to mouth.

Additionally, the statewide minimum wage for non-tipped workers is scheduled to rise to $9.00 an hour, from $8.75, at the end of the year. Despite this being $2.25 more than the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, this increase pales in comparison to other metropolitan cities around the country that have elected to increase their minimum wage to levels that allow workers to live above the poverty line when working a full time schedule. We should look to follow suit.

The New York minimum wage and overtime attorneys of Risman & Risman, P.C. are ready to aggressively pursue your wage claim. There is no charge for the consultation. Please feel free to call us at (212) 233-6400 or contact us online.