FAQ


What is the difference between employee and independent contractor?

What types of employee benefits are there on the market?

What are required employee benefits?

What are optional or additional employee benefits?

What is the minimum wage?

What is New York State minimum wage?

What is misclassification in relation to employees and independent contractors?

What is misclassification in relation to non-exempt and exempt employees?

Can my employer give me compensatory time off instead of paying me for overtime?

Should my employer compensate me for wearing the uniform?

How my employer should compensate me for overtime?

What is employment class action lawsuit?

What is at-will employment?

What is FMLA?

What is the right to work?

What is the difference between joking and harassment in the workplace?

What is discrimination in the workplace?

What is age discrimination?

What is genetic information discrimination?

What is reverse discrimination?

Do I have a right to get a compensation for my accrued vacation or other paid time off if I quit or fired?

Unemployment benefits: am I entitled to them?

Non compete agreement: am I bound by it?

What is whistleblower?

What is disparate treatment?

Can I sue for sexual harassment?

 



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Q: What is the difference between employee and independent contractor?

A: Employee is basically selling his or her time and ability to work to employer. Thus an employee has to work for the employer certain number of hours a day or a week and obey employer’s orders. Independent contractor, on the contrary, is considered to be his or her own boss. Independent contractor does not have to work certain number of hours or obey somebody else’s orders. On the other hand, independent contractor does not enjoy those benefits that come along with the status of employee. The benefits include minimum wage, Social Security, workers’ compensation, health insurance, sick leave etc.

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Q: What types of employee benefits are there on the market?

A: There are two types of employee benefits: those required by law and optional benefits, which employer can offer on top on required ones to make the job more attractive for potential and present employees.

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Q: What are required employee benefits?

A: Required employee benefits are those that employer must provide for company employees by law. The required employee benefits include minimum wage, Social Security, workers compensation insurance, medical and family leave benefits, as well as other federal benefits. In addition to federal protection of employees there are a lot of required employee benefits established on a state level. These requirements vary from state to state.

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Q: What are optional or additional employee benefits?

A: Optional employee benefits are those that employer can and often do offer in addition to the required benefits to make the job more appealing to the company present and future employees. Among such optional employee benefits are health care coverage, retirement benefits, paid medical or family leave and others.

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Q: What is the minimum wage?

A: The minimum wage in the U.S.A. is determined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) in the amount of $7.25 an hour. Many states provide minimum wage requirements higher than the federal minimum wage.

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Q: What is New York State minimum wage?

A: The minimum wage in the State of New York is $8.75 effective December 31, 2014. On December 31, 2015 it increases to $9.00.

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Q: What is misclassification in relation to employees and independent contractors?

A: This kind of misclassification usually relates to a situation, when employer treats workers as independent contractors instead of employees. Employers may do this in order to avoid paying minimum wage and employee benefits to their workers.

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Q: What is misclassification in relation to non-exempt and exempt employees?

A: Most employees are entitled to minimum wage and overtime requirements (non-exempt). Some employees are excluded from this rule (exempt). Exempt employees, for instance, include executives and managers, farmworkers, part-time baby sitters and others. Employers may treat non-exempt employees as exempt in order to avoid paying minimum wage and overtime. This would be a case of misclassification.

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Q: Can my employer give me compensatory time off instead of paying me for overtime?

A: If you work in private sector, your employer cannot give you compensatory time instead of paying for overtime, unless you have an exempt positon. In limited number of cases state and local governments are allowed to offer compensatory time to their emoployees.

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Q: Should my employer compensate me for wearing the uniform?

A: An employer can require its employees to wear a uniform. Most employers provide their employees with the uniforms at no charge. At the same time any expenses related to buying and taking care of uniforms should not constitute a burden for employees and push them below the minimum wage threshold. If it’s the case, then employers should compensate their employees for this.

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Q: How my employer should compensate me for overtime?

A: The overtime is calculated based on the hours worked per week. It means that you are not entitled to overtime pay just because you worked more than eight hours at any given day or on a weekend. All covered employees are entitled to a one and a half pay for any time they work over 40 hours a week. For residential employees it is one and a half pay for any time worked over 44 hours a week. Some employees like executives, managers, farm workers, part-time baby sitters etc. are not covered by this rule, i.e. they have exempt positions.


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Q: What is employment class action lawsuit?

A: Employment class action is a lawsuit in which one or more workers sue their employer on behalf of a larger group or even a class of workers who have a common interest in the action.


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Q: What is at-will employment?

A: At-will employment is a default rule of employment in the US. Employment at-will means that employers can fire employees for any cause or no cause. Employees in their turn can quit any time they want to.


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Q: What is FMLA?

A: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is one of most important federal laws on employment relations. It guarantees certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to take care of personal or family member medical conditions. The qualified employees are those who have worked for at least one year for their employer, which has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of its location. Under the FMLA, employers are required to maintain their employees’ health benefits just as if they were working.


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Q: What is the right to work?

A: The right to work means that nobody can be compelled to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union in order to be employed.


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Q: What is the difference between joking and harassment in the workplace?

A: Harassment is severe enough to create a hostile work environment and can cause adverse employment decisions like demoting or firing the victim of harassment.


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Q: What is discrimination in the workplace?

A: Discrimination in the workplace involves an unfavorable treatment of a person because of the person’s race, color, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, national origin, or genetic information.


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Q: What is age discrimination?

A: Age discrimination happens when a person is treated unfavorably because of the person’s age. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) it is prohibited to discriminate against a person who is 40 years of age or older. It is irrelevant whether the one who discriminates is also 40 or older.


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Q: What is genetic information discrimination?

A: Genetic information discrimination occurs when an applicant or employee is treated unfavorably because of the person’s genetic information. It is illegal to use genetic information in making employment decisions.


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Q: What is reverse discrimination?

A: Reverse discrimination occurs when a person is treated in an unfavorable manner because he or she belongs to a dominant or majority group. It may happen when diversity initiatives become excessive and break anti-discrimination laws.


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Q: Do I have a right to get a compensation for my accrued vacation or other paid time off if I quit or fired?

A: As a common rule, you don’t have a right to get a compensation for your accrued vacation or any other paid time off after you quit or are fired. However, you may be entitled to compensation according to your company’s policy. It is a question of contractual relationships.


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Q: Unemployment benefits: am I entitled to them?

A: In general you are entitled to unemployment benefits unless you quitted, were fired for misconduct or other behavior that would constitute “just cause” under your state’s law. The best way to find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits is to apply for them. If you don’t qualify, you will find out why and then you can evaluate the situation.


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Q: Non compete agreement: am I bound by it?

A: If you signed a non compete agreement, it may apply not only if you quit, but even if you are fired. It varies significantly from state to state. In the State of New York courts usually will not enforce a non-compete agreement against an employee who was fired without cause.


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Q: What is whistleblower?

A: Whistleblower is a person (usually an employee) who reports to authorities about employer’s illegal violations of federal and state laws.


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Q: What is disparate treatment?

A: Disparate treatment involves treating some people less favorably than others because of their race, religion, sex, or national origin.


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Q: Can I sue for sexual harassment?

A: In order to sue for sexual harassment it should be severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of your employment and create an abusive or hostile working environment.