·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


6 Ways Your Employer Might Be Breaking Employment Law

— February 7, 2023

Not every employer sets out to break employment laws, but it happens more than you might think.

Most employers don’t set out to break employment laws, especially when it might mean their employees take them to court for compensation related to their wrongdoings. However, employment law can be complex, and there can be occasions when both employers and employees don’t realize laws are being broken. If you suspect your employer is breaking the law, there are many legal experts you can call upon for help. We’ve also included some of the more common examples of laws being broken below. 

Not Letting You Discuss Your Salary

It might be in your best interest to contact New York attorneys when you’ve encountered a situation where your employer won’t let you discuss your salary with other employees. While you might prefer to keep your financial matters private, receiving explicit instructions not to share this information is against the law. 

Every state has different employment laws, but employers cannot prohibit employees from discussing, disclosing, or inquiring about each other’s salaries in New York. This forms Section 194 of the Labor Law. However, employees do not have to discuss their wages with other employees if they don’t wish to. 

Discriminating Against Workers

Most employers are aware that they are not allowed to discriminate against workers based on a number of categories, such as race, sex, religion, or color. However, that doesn’t mean all employers follow these employment laws. 

For example, a business manager might pass over the most qualified candidate for a promotion because they’re nearing retirement age. Alternatively, they might not hire someone because they’re planning on starting a family in the near future. If you suspect discrimination in your workplace, consider aligning yourself with an employment attorney and gathering evidence. 

While it can sometimes be challenging to prove discrimination without an employer blatantly admitting it, you might be able to put together a strong discrimination case with direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, or evidence showing a pattern of discriminatory behavior. 

Making You Sign a Broad Non-Compete Agreement

Employers are well within their rights to ask you to sign a non-compete agreement. These agreements prevent you from being able to work for or open a competing business for a set period of time after leaving your previous place of employment. However, that’s not to say that all non-compete agreements are legal. They are only enforceable to the extent they: 

  • Are necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests
  • Don’t harm the public
  • Are reasonable within a time period and geographic scope
  • Don’t impose undue hardship on employees 

Generally, courts won’t enforce non-compete agreements if they don’t meet the above criteria. Although, they may require an employee to comply with some components of the agreement. 

‘Papering’ Your File Before Firing You

Papering a file describes filing several complaints against an employee in quick succession before firing them. It’s important to note that papering a fire isn’t illegal, and many employers won’t see repercussions for their actions. 

However, if a worker should file an unlawful termination lawsuit against their previous employer, these complaints can sometimes look worse for the employer than the employee. The complaints might be genuine, but too many complaints filed in a short period can also make them lack credibility. If employers want to fire an employee who isn’t performing to the expected standard, they sometimes need to provide a detailed and in-depth history of long-standing issues. 

Promising Employment to Unpaid Interns

Will the Internet Crash Before the Pandemic is Over?
Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Unpaid internships are regularly offered to trainees or students for the sole purpose of helping them gain work experience and satisfy their qualification requirements. A number of fields provide internship opportunities, such as accounting, business, and communications. 

Interns might work for several days, weeks, or months without pay, and this is well within the confines of the law when multiple criteria are met. However, companies might end up on the wrong side of wage laws if they entice interns to their business with the promise of paid work when they finish. When that happens, the internship can be viewed as an unpaid training period, which is illegal. 

Not Paying You Overtime

Some employers try to get away with not paying overtime, either through ignorance or an intentional act. While laws vary by state, you are legally entitled to overtime in New York. New York Labor Law dictates that employers must pay 1.5 times your regular pay rate as soon as you have worked more than 40 hours in one week.   

Not every employer sets out to break employment laws, but it happens more than you might think. If you believe your employer has been breaking any employment laws, now might be the right time to seek help from employment attorneys and explore your legal options. 

Join the conversation!