We've written before about rights employees believe they have, but generally do not. Well, there are also rights many employees do not know they have. Here are five examples.
- The Right to FMLA Leave: Many employees (and employers, for that matter) are confused about their right to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). This statute allows eligible employees to take up to twelve (12) weeks of (unpaid) leave for serious health conditions (their own or a family member such as a spouse, son or daughter), the birth or adoption of a child and some other instances related to military service, without losing their job. The statute only applies, however, to employers who have 50 or more employees and to employees who have worked 1250 hours in the preceding year. The FMLA requires employers to notify an employee of their rights and eligibility for leave and it is not uncommon for an employer to fail to notify an employee of their rights. Sometimes the failure to provide this notice results in an employee taking longer than 12 weeks off and being fired for not returning to work.
- The Right to Take Breaks to Express Breast Milk: New York State law requires employers to provide breaks to nursing mothers who need to express breast milk, i.e., “pump”.
- The Right to Be Free From Same-Sex Sexual Harassment: This is different than being harassed because of your sexual orientation. This is when, for example, a man is harassed by another man because of his gender. These claims generally fall into 3 categories. 1) The harasser is homosexual and motivated by sexual desire (similar to the more common male vs. female harassment); 2) The harassment was so sex specific and derogatory that it was clear that the harasser was motivated by hostility to a particular gender in the workplace; and 3) There is direct evidence that a harasser treated one gender more poorly as compared to the other gender in the workplace.
- The Right to Be Free From Reverse Age Discrimination: i.e. discrimination because you're too young. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment act (ADEA) does not protect individuals who are younger than forty (40) years of age. The New York State Human Rights Law, however, does protect employees eighteen (18) years and older from being discriminated against because of their age.
- The Right to Be Free from Disability Discrimination: Well, most employees do know that they cannot be discriminated against because of a disability. But what employees may not realize is that they actually have a disability in the first place. The New York State Human Rights Law, as compared to the Americans With Disabilities Act that employees tend to be more familiar with, has a relatively expansive definition of a disability. As a result, if you are terminated because of a medical condition that you may not subjectively think of as being a “disability” it may nonetheless make sense to speak to an attorney who can assess whether your medical condition can be a disability within the meaning of the law.
It requires an experienced employment attorney to assess whether your rights have been violated. If you believe you have been the victim of illegal employment practices anywhere in New York, we urge you to contact our offices as soon as possible as there are many time deadlines and procedural hurdles that can prevent you from adequately protecting your rights.
Giovanna A. D'Orazio by Giovanna A. D'Orazio |
Giovanna practices employment, land use, commercial, civil and personal injury law at D'Orazio Peterson