A number of wage theft lawsuits and settlements have been occurring during the past five years. However, they haven’t received as much media attention as restaurant workers’ fight for higher minimum wages.
As a restaurant owner, you should be aware of what wage theft is and the ways it can occur. Ensure your restaurant managers aren’t engaging in wage theft activities.
Examples of Wage Theft and Related Lawsuits
Large chain restaurants have been subject to lawsuits for reducing hours, not paying proper wages for side work and for misappropriating tips.
Requiring workers to work off the clock is not legal but some chain restaurants have been settling claims that allege they’ve been doing this. The Huffington Post reported about several well-known restaurant chains that settled or paid huge sums in wage theft lawsuits.
Ruby Tuesday settled a case for $3 million in 2014. The restaurant avoided paying bartenders and servers overtime by having them do checklists before or after clocking in for work. They also shaved hour totals down to 40 hours/week when workers went over 40 hours.
Outback Steakhouses settled a $3 million lawsuit to workers claiming that the restaurant required workers to complete pre-shift work before clocking in.
A Papa John’s New York franchise had to pay more than $2 million in overtime rates under the order of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for rounding down hours worked to the whole number to avoid paying overtime, and for paying workers the “tipped minimum wage” when they mainly did un-tipped work and for not reimbursing employees for the purchase and maintenance costs of bicycles used in deliveries.
Red Robin Restaurants in Pennsylvania paid $1.3 million for requiring tipped workers to share tips with kitchen expeditors when the restaurant was taking tip credits and not paying servers a full minimum wage. Kitchen expeditors had no contact with customers and did not qualify to be paid as tipped workers.
Johnny Rockets had to pay 55 servers more than $570,000 under order of the Department of Labor (DOL) because they required servers to share tips with cooks and dishwashers.
Fourteen TGI Fridays servers received $485,000 to settle claims for having to spend more than 20 percent of their work time doing side work instead of directly relating to customers, which violates the 80/20 rule for tipped employees. Part of this settlement amount was also due to being forced to work off the clock.
Are You Concerned About Wage Theft?
If so, get legal advice as soon as possible. Stephen Hans & Associates is an employment law defense firm and can advise the best course of action for you to take as an employer
Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in all 67 counties within the State of Florida, due to Hurricane Irma. He also requested that President Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency for the State of Florida in order to prepare federal government sources and assistance.
How Serious is Hurricane Irma?
Governor Rick Scott announced on his website that Friday morning, 7,000 National Guard will report for duty. Over the weekend, more National Guard members will be activated, if necessary. In addition to the National Guard, 13 helicopters and more tan 1,000 tactical high-wheeled trucks are on standby. The North Carolina National Guard and other nearby states are ready to assist with evacuating the Florida Keys. In fact, if necessary, there are an estimated 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, and 100 helicopters along with Aero-Evacuation crews ready to support people in Florida as needed.
Florida Keys Evacuation Beginning
Mandatory evacuation orders for tourists in the Florida Keys begin Wednesday, September 6. However, people are being urged to leave as soon as possible and that includes tourists and residents. The National Hurricane Center (NCC) is warning about “life threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards for U.S. territories in the Caribbean.”
Many Florida schools and universities are closing Wednesday, September 6.
Why Buses Are Safer and Better for Evacuation
Roads are sure to be congested, if for no other reason than Florida has only a few major highways that head north in the state. Given the fact that a motor coach can take as many as 50 cars off the road, less congestion will occur with people evacuating by bus.
In addition, statistics show that charter buses are the safest form of ground transportation in the country. With a trained, professional driver at the wheel, there are fewer chances of accidents. Highways jam up and gridlock occurs when accidents take place. Avoiding accidents during hurricane evacuation is vital for everyone to make it out safely.
Another factor to consider is that buses are greener than any other type of ground transportation, leaving less of a carbon footprint than even hybrid cars. Evidences of global warming are already occurring. Increasingly severe hurricanes, droughts, tropical storms and other severe weather are effects that scientists have warned about regarding global warning. Irma has been named a Category 5 Hurricane and is one of the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s reassuring to have your friends, family and loved ones all together on one bus charter. You hear about people getting separated during disasters and can only imagine how stressful that can be.
Plan ahead and charter your bus as soon as possible so you can leave safely together.
Dangers of Flooding Caused by Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
According to the Chicago Tribune, a new study in relation to hurricanes and tropical storms revealed that inland flooding caused more deaths in the U.S. than strong winds, storm surge or tornadoes. The study covered a period between 1970 and 1999.
It showed that out of the 600 people who died in hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions during this time period, 59 percent drowned or were killed from a trauma related to inland flooding. This statistic didn’t include electrocution by fallen or hidden power lines. In fact, 150 people died in motor vehicles as waters rose. The statistics indicated that 63 percent of fatalities occurred in inland counties, 27 percent died in coastal counties and 11 percent were killed offshore.
Buses Are Also Vital for Returning Home After a Hurricane
Evacuating safely is important, but so is returning home. You must be careful returning after a hurricane, especially when flooding is an issue. When you rely on a charter bus to bring you back, you can be sure the driver has detailed information regarding which roadways are safe, which are flooded and the best route to travel. After all, the driver has a whole company behind him and dispatchers who relay vital information.
As far as economical travel, you can’t beat a charter bus. Charter bus rates are reasonable, and with everyone chipping in, it brings down costs. Plus, you don’t have to worry about finding gas, filling your vehicle, checking tires or any of the other tasks involved with driving your own truck or car.
Hurricanes are already stressful events, why not take away some of the stress by putting you and your family in the hands of a professional who’s extensively trained for safety and a vehicle that’s safer and greener than your own?
Reserve Your Charter Today
Reserve ahead and put your worries to rest. You can make reservations online the fast and easy way. But if you need questions answered or want to check out discounts, call 1-888-340-9122. We’re always available to help.
Will There Always Be a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?
New York City | Queens | Brooklyn | Bronx Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
So you have been injured in a workplace accident and you’ve prepared and filed a claim for workers’ compensation. Will you be required to attend a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Board? If not, what is the purpose of a hearing and why are they scheduled?
As a general rule, if your claim is approved, there’s no need for a hearing. However, if there’s a dispute regarding how much should be paid, the Board may schedule a hearing to review average weekly wage and verify the benefits payment. In addition, if your initial application for benefits is approved, but there’s a later dispute regarding whether you are ready to return to work, the Board may call a hearing.
Of course, if your employer or the insurance company decides to challenge your claim, arguing that you weren’t hurt at work, that your injury did not include a specific body part, or that your injury doesn’t prevent you from working. The company doctor may conclude that your injuries are not sufficient to keep you from doing your job. These are all situations where the Board may require a hearing.
It’s extremely critical that you don’t attend a Workers’ Compensation Board hearing without legal counsel. Your employer will likely have attorneys present. In addition, the judge simply won’t have time to explain all the nuances of the law to you.
Media commentator and retired NYPD detective, Tom Verni, is suing a local LGBT organization for allegedly creating a Twitter page with his images with tweets that suggest that he sexually molests underage boys.
He is now suing the Woodbury-based LGBT Network, its CEO David Kilmnick, and others for $5 million.
Verni says things first went south at the end of 2014 when Kilmnick and Verni had a disagreement on Facebook over police turning their backs on the mayor at a slain officer’s funeral and Verni was unfriended.
“As a result of that Facebook dust up that we had, that’s when people started coming forward and messaging me saying, ‘hey, do you know what’s going on over there at the LGBT Network?’” Verni said.
Experienced trial attorney with a reputation for winning
Anthony J. Colleluori, a well known New York and Long Island trial and appellate lawyer, has practiced for over 20 years, focusing his practice on Criminal Law; First Amendment & Obscenity; Constitutional Law & Civil Rights; Civil RICO and Federal False Claims Act cases.
The First Amendment guarantees us the right to free speech, but unfortunately, it is generally legal to force employees (or anyone else) to sign this away. Businesses do this by making people sign confidentiality clauses to get hired, to keep their jobs, or to get their settlement after any employment dispute or lawsuit. Confidentiality agreements prevent the Employee from talking about anything the Company doesn’t want discussed, and always include the amount of the settlement. Read More
What’s So Bad About These Agreements? Shouldn’t Business Owners Have a Right to Some Privacy?
Businesses legitimately need non-disclosure agreements to protect their trade secrets and other vital information from their competition. Unfortunately, they can also be used to conceal systemic violations of laws and regulations, patterns of discriminatory conduct, or sexual harassment. In those situations, offensive and illegal behavior can continue and flourish. For example, Fox News used these clauses as a curtain to keep a culture of sexual harassment out of public view for over a decade, allowing Roger Ailes to rack up $45 Million in payouts for sexual harassment claims, and Bill O’Reilly another $13M. Because his victims had to sign confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses as part of their settlements, Ailes continued victimizing women in complete privacy. Ailes was probably able to remove many panties off that would otherwise have stayed on if these clauses were illegal. But for the most part, they are perfectly legal under federal law, and with a Republican Congress and President Trump in the White House, this will not change anytime soon.
In fact, President Trump loves these clauses so much that everyone who volunteered for his campaign had to sign one prohibiting them from saying anything bad about Trump, his family or his businesses forever, and it also required the volunteers to prevent their employees (if they had them) from doing so. It also prohibited them from campaigning for any other presidential candidate until 2024, even if Trump had had not gotten the nomination.Read More
Is This Problem Limited to the Employment Context?
No. For many years, the Catholic Church settled claims brought against pedophile priests using these same exact clauses, and it still does. The Diocese would transfer the pedophile priest to another distant parish, the family would sign a confidentiality and non-disparagement clause as part of the settlement, and the priest continued to prey upon different children while the risk remained hidden from their parents.
What Happens When You Break a Confidentiality or Non-Disparagement Agreement (“NDA”)?
What Protections Are There Against This Under Existing Law? Read More
Is Anything About These Clauses Good for Employees? Read More
How Did Dennis Rodman Make New Confidentiality Clause Law?
On January 15, 1997, while scrambling for the ball in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rodman fell into a group of photographers on the sidelines. When he got up, he did the only reasonable thing – he kicked one of them in groin. Read More
Over the last six years, Mr. Cafaro has applied his litigation skills toward representing employees aggressively in overtime and discrimination cases. He has represented hundreds of workers successfully in individual wage and hour cases, including class and collective actions. He also litigates discrimination cases in both the federal and state courts.
Fluency in Spanish helps Mr. Cafaro to communicate with clients in their native language.
In a race discrimination lawsuit, the EEOC sued Rosebud Restaurants and parties settled for the amount of $1.9 million.
The EEOC brought a lawsuit against Rosebud, which operates 13 Italian restaurants in Chicago and nearby suburbs. The restaurants were not hiring African Americans, and restaurant managers and the Rosebud owner Alex Dana used racial slurs when referring to African Americans. Read More
Before taking legal action, the EEOC first attempted to use its conciliation process to resolve the issue. When a settlement could not be reached, it filed a lawsuit for racial discrimination in hiring based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Outcome of the Race Discrimination Lawsuit
Details of the settlement include:
African American applicants who were denied jobs will receive $1.9 million from Rosebud.
Rosebud now has hiring goals for qualified African American job applicants, including that 11% of future employees will be black.
The settlement decree prohibits Rosebud from engaging in future racial discrimination or retaliation
Rosebud must recruit African American applicants
Rosebud must train managers and employees against race discrimination and retaliation
For four years, Rosebud must periodically submit reports to the EEOC that show compliance with the settlement decree’s terms
Rosebud must post notices that inform employees about the decree’s terms
The parties were able to resolve the lawsuit through lengthy negotiations. The negotiations occurred prior to depositions and significant pre-trial motions that could have resulted in considerable litigation costs. Read More
Your Rights during a Workers’ Compensation Medical Examination
Under New York’s workers’ compensation laws, when you have suffered a work-related injury and seek workers’ compensation benefits, your employer has the right to require that you be examined by a licensed physician chosen by the company or the workers’ compensation insurance provider. Theoretically, it’s an “independent” examination, designed to objectively determine whether your injury prevents you from working. In reality, though, they’ll look for any way to reject your claim, so that your employer and the workers’ compensation insurer minimize their financial losses.
At Pyrros & Serres LLP, we handle all matters related to workers’ compensation and Social Security disability claims for people in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and across the greater New York City metropolitan area. Because of our reputation for effective advocacy, many of our new clients come to us as referrals from clients and other lawyers.
Distracted driving is a growing problem that all too often leads to serious injuries and fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015, there were 391,000 people injured and 3,477 people who died in vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Teenagers were the age group with the largest percentage of individuals killed in fatal crashes.
Authorities suspect that much higher numbers of accidents occur that involve distracted driving than people report.
Apps for Preventing Distracted Driving
Today we have apps for almost everything, and that includes apps for preventing distracted driving. Since cell phone use is a major source of distracted driving here are some apps you may find useful:
Lifesaver. Lifesaver is easy to install. If you have a teenage driver, you can lock the driver’s smartphone while the car is in motion. It provides arrival notification when the driver arrives safely. You are notified of driver status so you can avoid texting a driver or calling while they’re on the road. The app also notifies you if the driver unlocks LifeSaver while driving. For safety reasons in an emergency, the driver can unlock the app and the app sends a text notification to the parent. Another great feature is that teenagers can receive rewards for safe driving. Parents can choose to use iTunes or other rewards. (Available for Android and iOS)
Cellcontrol. Cellcontrol is an app made by Verizon for Android and iOS and consists of a hardwire device placed in the vehicle and an app on your phone. You can use it for teenagers, employees, company vehicles, etc. You can customize the distracted driving rules in your account and the device works on vehicles you want to block from texting, messaging, social media and music apps while driving. You can also get detailed reports on the driver’s performance, such as speeding, braking and accelerating.
Drive Safe Mode. Drive Safe Mode is another app (Android and iOS) for parents to use that prevents texting and emailing while driving. It also notifies parents when the phone is in use and if the driver turns off the app while driving.
For Serious Car Accidents, Seek Legal Help Immediately
When someone else causes a serious accident that results in severe injury or death, the crash is a legal matter. Consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. We can guide you through the legal process and advise you on how to deal with insurance companies and pay bills until your case is resolved.
According to the lawsuit he filed on Friday, July 7, 2017, Simon & Schuster refused to publish his most recent book, Dangerous, because of allegations that public statements he made condoned pedophilia.
What’s a “Morals Clause”
It’s a provision routinely included in contracts for celebrity endorsers, professional athletes, newscasters, TV actors, and various other people whose effectiveness and/or salability depends upon the public’s perception of them. Going back to 1972, Marilyn Chambers, the fresh faced young mother holding the infant on the Ivory Snow detergent box starred in Behind the Green Door, which was considered extremely hard core pornography at that time. This was obviously at odds with the pure and wholesome image Proctor & Gamble wanted the public to associate with its product. Typically, morals clauses allow the company to cancel the contract if the individual is charged with or convicted of a serious crime or conduct which is immoral or widely viewed by the public as reprehensible.Can’t Simon & Schuster Refuse to Publish any Book? Read More
From Fatty Arbuckle to The House Un-American Activities Committee to Charlie Sheen to Brian Williams – How did Morals Clauses Come About and How Have They Been Used?
Morals Clauses started in 1921 when Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, a very famous silent film star at that time, was arrested and charged with the rape and murder of a young starlet who had been found in his hotel room. Although the evidence against him was slim and he was found not guilty of all charges, the sensational “yellow journalism” of the day convicted him in the court of public opinion. Widespread outrage at “Hollywood Immorality” prompted the entertainment industry to use Morals Clauses in every contract to protect them from having to continue to pay stars who stepped in scandal, as well as to appease their audiences.
Thirty years later, the House Un-American Activities Committee, at the height of the Cold War in the early 1950s, investigated alleged Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry.
The next big splash in this area was Charlie Sheen’s contract for Two and a Half Men, which had a very weak Morals Clause,requiring commision of a felony offense involving moral turpitude. This put Warner Bros. TV on shaky legal ground for firing him despite his clearly outrageous behavior, and they had to fall back on the argument that his cocaine use impaired his ability to adequately perform. Sheen sued for $100M, and although the settlement was confidential, it was clearly substantial.
Fast forward to 2015, when Brian Williams, who had just signed a $10M contract with NBC, publicly gave several variations of a false account of a March 2003 helicopter ride during the U.S. invasion of Iraq which he was forced to take back and apologize. His credibility with the public plummeted, and NBC, which could clearly have terminated his contract based on an ironclad Morals Clause in his contract, decided on a six month unpaid suspension instead.
The long and short of this is that every contract is different, and the outcome in each situation is, and will continue to be, determined based on the wording the parties agreed upon when they sat down with their lawyers and made their deal.
 As everyone who follows Milo Yiannopoulos knows, he is openly gay, vigorously denies that he has ever advocated pedophilia, and claims that his widely publicized remarks which led to his departure from Breitbart News referred favorably to a relationship he had with a man who was 29 when he was 17. 16 was the legal age of consent in the UK, where this took place. Milo also posted a statement on his Facebook page (which is attached to his complaint as Ex. “I”) denying that his public remarks ever condoned pedophilia. Whether Milo’s remarks expressed approval of pedophilia or not is a question which is not addressed here; it is merely assumed that Milo made public statements which were very heavily criticized.
The most shameful case in recent history was Thomas Lowe, an Egan, MN attorney representing a divorce client, who had an affair with her that lasted seven months. After several arguments with the woman about the affair and his own marriage, Lowe said he was breaking things off. Two days later, he said he was withdrawing as her attorney. That day, the woman, who was vulnerable because of past abuse and mental health treatment, tried to kill herself. While hospitalized, she disclosed the affair.
In giving him an indefinite suspension, the Minnesota Supreme Court found that he had not only had sex with a vulnerable client; he had actually billed her for meetings during which they had sex.¹
Who’s Gotten in Trouble over Sex in New York Recently?
There were two cases in the past year which make for interesting reading. In one, a lawyer offered to represent a prostitute in a small town court upstate in exchange for her services – a good old fashioned barter arrangement. Unfortunately for the lawyer, his client was smarter that he was, and she contacted the police. The prostitute then recorded phone calls with the lawyer, agreeing that they would have sex in exchange for his legal services. As a result, the lawyer plead guilty to loitering for the purposes of prostitution and got community service. The disciplinary committee found that the lawyer had obviously violated the rule against requiring sexual relations as a condition of providing representation², but he was only given a censure, which is essentially a public reprimand. Although we don’t know it for a fact, it’s a safe bet she got the prostitution charge dismissed for turning the lawyer in, because he was certainly a bigger fish than she was.
In a much more serious case, Tara Lenich, a Deputy Bureau Chief in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, was indicted in federal court and plead guilty to forging wiretap warrants. Because she had a romantic interest in a detective who she suspected of dating another female prosecutor in the same office, she forged judges’ signatures on fake orders authorizing her to eavesdrop on their cell phones and falsified warrants for their text messages. She told her colleagues in the office that she was working on an investigation so secret that no one else could know about. A staffer in the DA’s office became suspicious when she saw another prosecutor’s personal phone number on the eavesdropping warrant. She faces a maximum of 10 years on the guilty plea. Although her sentence will likely be far less than that, she will definitely lose her law license because anyone convicted of a felony³ is subject to automatic disbarment under New York law.
So What’s the Rule: Is Sex Allowed4Between a Lawyer and a Client?
There is a strict prohibition 5 in New York against having sex with a divorce client, because divorce clients are often emotionally vulnerable, and there is an increased risk that the client will be exploited. However, even this rule has an exception if the sexual relations started before the client-lawyer relationship , so a lawyer could legally represent his/her lover in the divorce that followed in the wake of their adulterous affair. Also, any sexual relationship6 that begins after the representation is over would not be breaking any rule, even in a divorce case.
What About Sex with Clients in Non-Divorce Cases?
While there is technically no rule against it, any lawyer that starts a sexual relationship with a current client is entering into a grey area. As one court said “because a sexual relationship between a lawyer and client creates the risk of impairing the professional judgment of the lawyer, and rendering the client unable to make rational decisions related to his or her case, the relationship may be detrimental to the client’s interests. As such, “sexual relations between lawyers and their clients are dangerous and inadvisable””7 If the lawyer is accused of doing anything else that’s against the rules, having sex with that particular client will add a “sleaze factor” to the disciplinary case that won’t lead to any good places.
Are Doctors Allowed to Have Sex with Their Patients?
Although the concern used to be confined to psychiatry, since 1991 the American Medical Association has taken a much tougher position and adopted a blanket rule. “Sexual contact that occurs concurrent with the patient-physician relationship constitutes sexual misconduct.” 8That same opinion goes so far as to say that “Sexual or romantic relationships with former patients are unethical if the physician uses or exploits trust, knowledge, emotions, or influence derived from the previous professional relationship.” In fact, the AMA goes so far as to regulate sexual and romantic relationships between doctors and key third parties who accompany their patients.9 What will happen to a doctor who dates a patient seems to vary quite a bit, though, according to the particular state and the particular circumstances.
 In re Disciplinary Action against Lowe, 824 N.W.2d 634, 2013 Minn. LEXIS 3, 2013 WL 167954 (Minn. 2013)
 This Post only talks about New York, and these are only general rules and do not constitute legal advice. Before getting the room, check with your lawyer if sex is allowed in your state and your particular circumstances.
 Rules of Professional Conduct , 12 NYCRR 1200.0, Rule 1.8[j][iii].
 AMA Journal of Ethics, Opinion 8.14 – Sexual Misconduct in the Practice of Medicine, Issued December 1989; updated March 1992 based on the report “Sexual Misconduct in the Practice of Medicine,” adopted December 1990.
[9 ] AMA Journal of Ethics, Opinion 8.145 – Sexual or Romantic Relations between Physicians and Key Third Parties Issued December 1998 based on the report “Sexual or Romantic Relations between Physicians and Key Third Parties,” adopted June 1998.