Labor & Employment



My office regularly represents employers and employees in a wide range of employments law issues. We are vigorous advocates for our clients' rights while seeking solutions that preserve their interests. We understand the deep implications of disputes for employers and employees alike and work to ensure that our solutions are in line with their goals.

We begin working with a client by providing advice to management on human resources and labor relations matters and by developing effective programs to deal with fast and ever-changing labor and employment law issues. We have assisted in guiding many employers through union organizing attempts. In collective bargaining negotiations, we provide advice to management and act as a negotiator at the bargaining table. We regularly represent employers against claims of employment related matters which could disrupt the business activities and goals of our employer clients and the disruption of an employee's career and family life due to unfair labor practices

In Practice Since 1978.

Call Eugene F. Levy, Esq. at (718)261-7900 today to learn more!


Wage and overtime are perhaps two of the most important employment law topics from the perspective of a worker. Workers want to know that they are properly compensated for time spent working. They may also be concerned about how to file a complaint in the event their wage and overtime rights are violated.

Employers must be up to date on the latest rules and regulations including the classification of workers as either Independent Contractors or full time employees.

When Jaws are properly observed, wage and overtime issues are seldom a problem, but when the laws are violated, these issues loom large for workers forced to forfeit adequate pay for the time and energy expended at work.


Wage and overtime laws originate in the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The country's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) handles the enforcement of the FLSA and oversees proper handling of a number of other measures as well, including child labor and unemployment insurance. The Wage and Hour Division is a smaller part of the Department of Labor which ensures adherence of all federal labor laws.


The FLSA sets basic federal minimum wage standards. Current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, some states have a different pay threshold. New York minimum wage as of December 31, 2015 is $9.00 per hour. This amount can vary depending on the industry as to New York City's "Living Wage Law" for those working under a contract with New York City, the new living wage rate for the period between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 is $11.70 per hour with health benefits or $13.40 per hour without health benefits..

Although the FLSA sets the federal minimum wage, it does not cover other wage issues such as severance pay. It merely ensures that every employer must abide by a general rule for the least amount of wages a worker must receive. If the minimum wage standard is not properly observed, an employer could be liable for back pay of up to 2-3 years, depending on the circumstances of the case.


The general rule for overtime is that overtime pay must not be less than one and a halftimes regular pay. Generally, overtime pay kicks in for any amount of time spent working beyond the regular 40-hour work week. However, it is important to note that not all workers are eligible for overtime pay. For instance, workers who would be classified as management are generally not eligible. Additionally, certain businesses and industries are exempt from the overtime pay rules outlined in the FLSA.


Wage and overtime issues arise when an employer fails or refuses to compensate a wage worker for time spent working. In these cases, there are two ways an employee can address the issue: 1) file a complaint 2) file a lawsuit.

Wage and overtime complaints are filed with the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. Over 200 WHD offices around the country offer free and confidential assistance for filing wage and overtime complaints. The complaint forms often must be accompanied by additional documentation such as pay stubs and personal records of hours worked. The complaint may initiate an investigation and conclude with a determination by the Division based on the information presented and gathered.

In addition to filing a complaint, an employee may also file suit against an employer in a court of law. The purpose of a suit of this nature is to recover back pay or lost wages due to the employer's violation of wage and overtime laws. When violations are found, employees are eligible to receive compensation for up to 2 years of back pay or 3 years if the violation was willful.


If you think your employee rights have been violated or an employer who needs assistance in determining the legal minimum wage for your particular industry, contact Eugene F. Levy at (718)261-7900.


Are you an independent contractor or an employee and does it make a difference?

Whether a worker is an "employee" or an "independent contractor" makes a big difference. Independent contractors are not entitled to many benefits that must be offered to employees, such as overtime pay, health and pension benefits, social security credits, protection against discrimination and unemployment insurance. Some employers wrongly classify their workers as "independent contractors" to avoid providing those benefits. It is in your best interest to know whether you are properly classified as an employee or independent contractor.

Recently, there have been some noteworthy cases where employers mistakenly classified employees as independent contractors. In one case the company agreed to pay $19.5 million to 292 agents who claimed the company wrongly changed their status from "employees" to "independent contractor". In another case a company agreed to pay $96.9 million to employees who contended that they were not temporary, independent contractors but really permanent employees of the company.

Courts use different tests for workers for deciding different issues, but there are some common principles. In wage and hour cases, they focus on the following factors.:
  • The degree of control employer exercises over the day-to-day work performed;
  • The amount of work the worker's investment in facilities and work equipment;
  • The worker's opportunities for profit and loss;
  • The degree to which the worker's independent initiative, judgement and planning is necessary for the success of the worker's operation;
  • The permanency of the relationship between the employer and worker;
  • The extent to which the services are a part of the employer's business
  • How dependent the worker is on the employer for continued work.
The courts will look to all the facts of a particular case and compare them to the appropriate factors. Thus, the employees should understand that an agreement that he or she is an independent contractor, though important, will not decide the case. Employers should be aware of the costs of classifying an employee incorrectly.

To make sure there is compliance with the law call Eugene F. Levy (718)261-7900.


Wrongful termination occurs when an employer unlawfully fires or discharges an employee. Wrongful termination can happen even in states that follow the employee at-will doctrine which gives an employer the right to fire an employee for any reason, at any time.


According to the employment at-will doctrine, an employee can be fired for any reason. However, the doctrine contains a number of exceptions. First, the doctrine does not apply when an employee's termination has caused a public policy violation. This means that the termination is beyond the boundaries set by social norms for fair employment interactions. For instance, an employee cannot be fired in most states because he refused to break the law at an employer's request or because he took time off to vote.


Another way that a wrongful termination claim can arise is due to the breach of an employment contract. An employment contract is most often written, but it can also be implied, with a breach occurring based on the facts and circumstances surrounding an employment agreement.

When a written contract is used to establish employment, a breach leading to wrongful termination can occur if the contract contained provisions detailing the length of employment or setting a specific term for employment. If an employee is fired in violation of these terms, it may result in a successful wrongful termination claim.

When a contract is implied, courts will analyze the behavior, conduct and circumstances surrounding the agreement to determine whether 1) a legal contract existed and 2) the contract was breached resulting in wrongful termination.

To get the help of an experienced attorney contact the Law Offices of Eugene F. Levy. (718)261-7900.


Beyond public policy violations of the employment at-will doctrine and breach of contract claims, a wrongful termination case could also arise from job discrimination. Federal and state law prohibits discrimination in employment based on certain protected categories, including race color, national origin, sex, age, religion and disability. These laws affect all areas of the employment process including termination.

When an employee can prove that his or her termination came as a result of unlawful job discrimination, an employer could be held liable for violation of civil rights laws designed to protect workers by ensuring they are treated equally on the job.

For Experienced legal representation to help you navigate through the complex issues of a wrongful termination call the Law Offices of Eugene F. Levy, Esq. (718)261-7900.


Sexual harassment is an illegal form of sex discrimination covered in both federal and state law. In particular, Title VII of the Civil Rights law prohibits sexual harassment across the nation. The law applies to companies with 15 or more employees, and is enforced by the government agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Two types of legal violations under Title VII can occur with sexual harassment. First, when an employer makes sexual acts or favors a condition of employment, courts refer to this as quid pro quo sexual harassment. This type of violation is typical, for instance, when an employer fires an employee for rejecting unwelcome sexual advances or refuses to promote an employee unless she agrees to become sexually involved.

Additionally, some forms of sexual harassment become illegal because they create a hostile work environment. This occurs when behavior and conduct of a sexual nature is so severe and pervasive that an employee is prevented from performing his or her job duties. Both types of violations can occur to women or men and are not specific to any gender.

Hostile work environment cases are not limited to direct victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. They may also involve third party witnesses to the sexual harassment who prove the harassment is so severe that it prevents them from effectively doing their job. It's important to note that infrequent or random remarks of a sexual nature may not be deemed sexual harassment for purposes of the law, even if they are sexually explicit or offensive.


Sometimes an employer decides to retaliate against an employee who has complained about sexual harassment. The employer could be liable for doing so if the employee sufficiently proves that her employer took adverse action against her due to her complaint. The illegality of retaliation would also apply if an employee filed a charge with the EEOC or participated in court proceedings involving an employer's sexual harassment and subsequently experienced adverse action.


A number of remedies are available to employees who successfully claim sexual harassment in the workplace. A major remedial measure is back pay. When an employee has experienced emotional harm due to sexual harassment, they may receive compensatory damages. Additionally, employees could be hired, promoted or reinstated based on particular sexual harassment claims. Beyond these, attorney's fees and court costs could also be covered by a successful suit.

To get the help of an experienced attorney contact the Law Offices of Eugene F. Levy. (718)261-7900.


Age discrimination becomes an issue when employees over the age of 40 experience unfair treatment on the job based specifically on age. Such treatment is illegal under both federal and state law.

Specifically, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination at the federal level. The Act applies to companies with 15 or more employees and requires that employers refrain from singling out workers over the age of 40 in the terms and conditions of employment as well as in job advertisements.

Both federal and state law provides remedies for retaliation based on age discrimination as well. The ADEA makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees who file age discrimination complaints or charges or who participate in age discrimination court proceedings.


Illegal Early Retirement Deals

Early retirement deals, also known as golden handshakes, are not always legitimate. When an employer bases these deals on the age of a worker over 40, with no other legitimate business reason, a violation of federal and state age discrimination law has occurred.

Illegal Employee Replacement

Employers commonly refresh their labor force by replacing workers on a routine basis. However, when an employee over the age of 40 can prove a replacement occurred specifically in order to hire or promote a younger employee, he or she could have a case for age discrimination under both state and federal law.

Illegal Wage Determinations

Violations of age discrimination laws can occur with any aspect of employment. Particularly, with wages and salaries, an employer must not make unfair wage determinations based on the over 40 status of a worker. For instance, an employer may be liable for age discrimination when it uses age to determine that an older worker with higher pay due to seniority should be replaced with a younger worker with less seniority.

Inequality in Job Benefits

In addition to the ADEA, workers also have federal protection against age discrimination via the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act. The Act requires employers to treat older and younger employees equally in terms of the scope and amount of benefits received. Though employers may be tempted to spend less on benefits for older workers or offer less coverage than younger workers, both of these actions are prohibited

If you are an employee who feels you have been discriminated against because of your age or an employer who has received a complaint about age discrimination, contact Eugene F. Levy, Esq. at (718)261-7900 today.


The American With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act is federal law which prohibits discrimination on the job against workers with disabilities. This Act is an extremely important form of protection for disabled workers, who can often be the victims of exclusion and unfair employment decisions and practices simply because they are disabled.

The ADA particularly prohibits discrimination in certain employment situations. For instance, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate in hiring and discharge decisions as well as in employment practices such as promotions, compensation and job training. Just about any discriminatory term, condition or privilege of employment can be held illegal in a court of law.

Understanding "Qualified Individual with a Disability"

Under the ADA, an individual cannot receive the protection outlined in the provisions of this laws unless he or she is a "qualified individual with a disability." In other words, the employee must be able to perform the duties of a job position. This provision prevents employees whose disability precludes them from doing the job in question from filing suits of discrimination when they are not allowed to do the job. For example, a blind worker could not be a land surveyor because his or she is not qualified for such a position, and his exclusion from such a position would not be considered discrimination.

Also, the laws only apply if the worker filing suit is actually disabled, meaning the disability he or she has interferes with the ability to work. Here, courts examine the influence a disability has on the person's job and ability to earn income.

Understanding 'Reasonable Accommodation' in Disability Discrimination Cases

Anti-discrimination laws often require an employer to provide accommodation for specific categories of workers. When this accommodation is not provided or is provided insufficiently, an employer could be in violation of the law.

In the context of disability discrimination, the employer may need to make changes to the work place or to workplace policy in order to meet reasonable accommodation requirements. For example, an employer may need to modify job duties, decreasing a disabled worker's workload or providing more break time, in order for him to perform job duties effectively.

It is important to note that accommodations are not without some limitations. For instance, the law requires that in order to receive accommodations, a disabled employee must first request it. The requested accommodation must be reasonable and the employer has the right to refuse requests that would cause undue hardship to the business.

If you think your rights as a disabled worker have been violated due to a discriminatory act, employment decisions or employment practice, or you are an employer who has questions about compliance with a reasonable accommodation, request or complaint contact EUGENE F. LEVY at (718)261-7900.


Discrimination based on sex or gender is illegal according to a number of federal and state laws. When an employer treats someone differently simply because they are a woman or because they are a man, the employer is illegally practicing sex or gender discrimination. The discriminatory treatment can take on a variety of forms. For instance, an employee may be fired, demoted, lose a promotion, or take a cut in salary due to his or her sex or gender.

Throughout the law the terms gender and sex are used interchangeably. The main federal law that addresses sex discrimination is Title VII. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex as well as on the bases of a number of other protected categories such as race and disability. Beyond Title VII, state law and other federal laws provide yet another layer of protection from sex or gender discrimination.


Two other federal laws address sex discrimination: the Equal Pay Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Equal Pay Act ensures that employers do not pay women different wages or salaries than other employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects pregnant workers. Both these laws and Title VII are enforced by a governmental agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

When an employee has been discriminated against based on sex or gender, the first step in making an official complaint based on federal law is to file a charge with the EEOC. The EEOC investigates claims of sex or gender discrimination filed under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. If the agency decides not to pursue an employee's case, it issues a right to sue notice which gives the employee permission to file a sex discrimination lawsuit in court.


Another form of sex or gender discrimination is sexual harassment. Under Title VII, sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, behavior of a sexual nature or even requests for sexual favors which significantly interfere with an employee's ability to perform job duties or that create a hostile work environment. When the harassment is made a condition of an employee's employment, this is called quid pro quo sexual harassment.


It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against someone who complains about sex or gender discrimination. This means that whether an employee decides to file a grievance through the company complaint process, file a charge with the EEOC or other government agency or to file suit in court, an employer may not take adverse action against the employee in response to these acts.

If you are an employee who feels your rights have been violated or an employer who has received a complaint you must act in a timely manner to address these issues.

Contact Eugene F. Levy at (718)261-7900.


Both federal and state laws require employers to treat pregnant women fairly. This means that employed pregnant mothers should be treated the same as all other workers. When the equal rights of pregnant workers are violated, employers could be liable for the damaged caused.

Federal law protecting pregnant women is codified in an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). This act outlines the rules and regulations concerning employer responsibilities as well as the rights of pregnant workers.

Employer Responsibility Under Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

Generally, employers have the responsibility to treat pregnant women fairly. An employer may not refuse to hire pregnant workers based on personal views about the inability of pregnant women to perform job duties. Neither can employers curtail or extend maternity leave in response to a pregnancy. Additionally, providing adequate accommodations when reasonable and providing fair health benefits are major requirements under pregnancy discrimination law.

Employers are prohibited from refusing to hire women based on prejudices about pregnancy including the prejudices of supervisors, co-workers, managers or agents. Also, it is against the law to refuse to hire a pregnant worker due to a pregnancy related condition. These prohibitions on pregnancy discrimination go beyond hiring to cover all aspects of the employment process including termination, promotions, compensation and benefits.

Pregnancy Discrimination And Maternity Leave

One of the ways that pregnancy discrimination can become an issue is via maternity leave. Employers sometimes make unlawful requirements concerning maternity leave which pregnant employees can address with litigation. For instance, it is unlawful for an employer to require that a pregnant employee remain on maternity leave until the birth of her child under certain circumstances.

The basic rule is that an employer must afford a pregnant employee the same type of leave as other "temporarily disabled" employees. If an employer, for example has a policy in place that will hold a job open for workers who are temporarily disabled for a certain length of time, it must also hold the job open for a woman temporarily disabled due to pregnancy for the same length of time.

It is also important to note that pregnant women are entitled to a certain amount of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A pregnant woman is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn. Fathers are also entitled to this unpaid leave under the provisions of the FMLA.

What if a Pregnant Employee is Unable to Perform Her Job Duties?

Ifthe reason a pregnant worker is unable to perform her job duties qualifies as a type of disability regulated by the American Disabilities Act (ADA), pregnant workers could have additional causes of action to consider beyond those allowed in the PDA. Additionally the ADA requires that employers provide accommodations at work such as shifting work schedules or providing lighter job duties.

If you feel that you have not been treated fairly and are the victim of discrimination because of your pregnancy contact the Law offices of Eugene F. Levy, Esq. (718)261- 7900.


An Explanation of'At-Will' Employment

Any discussion of breach of contract begins with an explanation of'at will' employment. This term describes the fact that an employer has the right to hire or fire someone for any reason with or without good cause subject to certain exceptions.

However, when an employer hires or fires someone based on certain protected categories and characteristics, it is a violation of anti-discrimination law. These laws protect all employees from discrimination on the job and apply to specific types of discrimination known as protected categories. Typically, protected categories include race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation.

Also, the 'at will' employment doctrine does not apply when there is a valid employment contract between an employer and employee.


Employment contracts are created in one of three forms: implied, oral, or written. Written contracts are important for breach of contract and will be discussed in this section. For more information about implied and oral contracts, please visit our related section, Oral & Implied Contracts.

When an employer breaks the contract it has created between employer and employer, doing so is known as breach of contract.


Although written employment contracts are not common, they can be breached when an employer decides to forgo following any of the provisions within them.

Union employees, for example, work under a written union contract. Union contract employees may sue for breach of contract, but must first pursue all administrative remedies, including grievance procedures, arbitrations and more. These are typically outlined and defined in the terms of the union contract.

Executive contracts, often created in writing, can also be the target of a breach of contract lawsuit if a company somehow reneges on its offer of employment, terminates an employee against the terms of the contract, or violated the terms of the contract in any other way.

These terms are the controlling factors in nearly all breach of contract lawsuits. They establish the 'rules' that both employers and employees must abide by in order to avoid breaking the law.


The provisions of a contract can be numerous. In fact, there is no limit to the number of terms or conditions a written employment contract may contain. Typically, an employment contract will contain a length of service provision which dictates the duration of employment. For example, where an employment contract contains a term of five years for employment, the employee is under contract for that time period and cannot legally quit or be fired, nor, in some instances, can he work for another company.

However, it is possible for any term or condition to be associated with certain exceptions listed also as terms of the contract. For instance, the common exception to a length of service provision is termination for "good cause."


When an employment contract contains an "good cause" exception, an employee can be fired for any reason defined in the contract as such. The definition of "good cause" in a written employment contract is, then, extremely important, as it can determine whether or not there has been a breach of contract based on the terms of the agreement between an employer and employee.

The typical occurrence is that an employee under written contract will sue his employer because he's been fired under the "good cause" exception to the length of service provision in the contract. The employee sues because he thinks there was no good cause for his termination. Court will examine the terms of the written contract to determine whether, according to the definition of "good cause" in the contract, there was a breach in violation of the terms.


When an employer places unreasonable clauses within a contract, whether written or implied, he could be dealing in bad faith. Bad faith breach of contract occurs when an employer makes a clearly unreasonable interpretation of the contract, thus violating its terms.

For instance, an employment contract may contain a condition that terminates employment when or if an employee removes company property from the premises. Provisions like these are meant to prevent stealing, and typically apply when an employee takes a piece of equipment or confiscates company information.

If the employer fires a worker under this provision for taking home a memo or letter this could be considered an act of bad faith. Clearly, firing someone for taking home a memo is an unreasonable interpretation of the contract provision.


The big question in breach of contract cases is what can employer recover in terms of damages. It is important to note that an employee can only recover the amount he or she would have earned had there been no breach of contract. These damages are called restitution damages since they are meant to make the employee "whole" by placing him back in the position he would have been in had there been no violation of the law.

This means there are only certain damages an employee may sue for under breach of contract claims. It is possible for an employee to sue for lost wages and benefits. Also, an employee can sue for the amount he or she would have earned in the future, minus the earnings of a new job, considering he gets a job in reasonable time. However, an employee cannot collect damages for emotional distress, though this is, at times, a big influence in breach of contract cases.

If you believe your employment contract has been violated call the law offices of Eugene F. Levy, Esq. 718-261-7900


Whistle blowing involves the public disclosure of wrongdoing, usually by an employee. Retaliation by an employer is a key factor involved in whistle blowing, which is why a number of laws and statutes, both at the federal and state level, have been enacted to protect whistle blowers. Also. Whistle blowing is considered valuable to the public interests as it can reveal information necessary for the punishment of crimes about which authorities or officials would otherwise remain unaware.

United States law contains a wide variety of regulation and statues which address whistle blowing. This mixed bag of legislation generally condemns retaliation from employers motivated by an employee reporting fraud, misconduct, safety violations, non-compliance or other unlawful behavior.

When an employee is discharged for Whistle blowing , the issue of at-will employment arises. The at-will employment doctrine allows an employer to terminate employment for any reason at any time. It basically means that, absent an employment contract with provisions dictating otherwise, there are no specific durations of employment guaranteed in states which abide by the doctrine. New York is an "at will" state.

However, the employment at-will doctrine is not without exception. In fact, the doctrine contains public policy exceptions which include at-will whistle blowing employees. These public policy exceptions have been carved out by the courts and legislation and vary from state to state in their application.

Many of the laws addressing whistle blowing are enforced and governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These include the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Clean Air Act, Section 402, of the Food Safety Modernization Act and Section 1558 of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). These laws cover employer retaliation in the form of a number of adverse personnel decisions including blacklisting, denying overtime, and promotion, suspension and intimidation.


Many of the laws concerning Whistle blowing employees also prohibit discrimination as a result of a whistle blowers act of reporting or highlighting information about an employer's misconduct.


This act is one of the main laws that protect Federal Whistleblowers who work for the government and report agency misconduct. A federal agency violates the act if agency authorities take (or threaten to take) retaliatory personal action against any employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by an employee or applicant. Whistlebowers may file complaints that they believe reasonably evidences:

  1. A violation of a law, rule or regulation;
  2. Gross mismanagement;
  3. Gross waste of funds;
  4. An abuse of authority;
  5. A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.


Because the whistleblower law can be complex, the help of a qualified and knowledgeable attorney who is up to date on the constantly changing laws and rulings is critical

Call the Law Office of Attorney Eugene F. Levy today. (718)261-7900