Employment Law Blog

In recent years, many companies have asked new and continuing employees at all levels to sign non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-recruitment agreements. Sometimes, these restrictive covenants are part of a carefully negotiated employment agreement for an employee managing sensitive or valuable projects. Often, however, these agreements are boilerplate clauses tucked into hiring documents that a new employee may not understand (or even read).

When a worker is subject to restrictive covenants and tries to leave employment and get another job in their field, they may find themselves defending against threats of legal action by their former employer. Workers who are laid off indefinitely or terminated due to the COVID-19 coronavirus may be unpleasantly surprised to find their previous employer attempting to enforce restrictive covenants and prevent them from working for competitors, or worse, a wider range of companies.

With the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, employers are anxious to get workers back onsite. At the same time, many employees have concerns over vaccinations at work: Can my employer force me to get a Vaccine? What if I refuse? What if I have a disability or religious belief that would prevent me from doing so? 

In New York City and elsewhere in the country in recent years, job applicants and employees have obtained increased protections from employment discrimination based on criminal history. “Ban the box” laws and ordinances, including New York City’s Fair Chance Act (FCA), provide opportunities for tens of thousands of workers, under the idea that past transgressions should not render a person ineligble for all employment. As New York City explains, “there is no greater danger to the health, morals, safety and welfare of the city and its inhabitants than the existence of groups prejudiced against one another and antagonistic to each other because of their actual or perceived differences, including those based on . . . conviction or arrest record.” 

The COVID-19 crisis has shed light on the many everyday heroes that have helped patients, neighbors, and communities survive the coronavirus. In the shadows, however, lurk opportunists taking advantage of the outbreak – including healthcare providers and medical suppliers tasked with saving lives. Just like first responders, doctors, and nurses, whistleblowers who call out fraudulent billing practices during the pandemic are heroic, too.

Workplace safety is more critical than ever in the coronavirus era. As states and cities across the country have ordered the closure and now reopening of non-essential businesses, safety measures that help prevent the spread of the virus are crucial for mitigating the risks to workers.

When employers purposely or negligently violate the rules, employee whistleblowers are often the best hope for bringing violations to the attention of government authorities. To encourage people to come forward, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the “OSH Act” or the “Act”) protects employees who observe and report unsafe conditions in their workplaces, whether related to the coronavirus pandemic or not.

Executive compensation trends in the United States are affected by a network of interrelated factors, including legal and regulatory requirements, market and cultural trends, and shareholder pressures. C-suite and senior executives should know the significant roles that securities and tax laws play in compensation structures.

It has been said that in every crisis lies opportunity. Unfortunately, the twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession that followed have increased opportunities for unscrupulous employers to engage in rampant wage theft, including minimum wage and overtime violations. A recent study found that large numbers of low-wage and minimum wage workers, already vulnerable from economic upheaval and uncertainty, are likely being paid less than the law requires, or not receiving paychecks at all. 

McDonald’s is seeking the return of the $42 million severance package that its former CEO received upon his departure, claiming it should be returned to the company because he lied, concealed evidence, and committed fraud relating to his termination from the company. Disputes over executive compensation or bonuses rarely end up in court. But the McDonald’s lawsuit is the latest in a series of such cases, including shareholder derivative lawsuits involving recognized companies, that have made their way to the courtroom, with mixed results.

Outten & Golden LLP is proud to announce that the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession bestowed its Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award on our esteemed partner Wendi S. Lazar. 

The Brent Award is considered one of the most prestigious awards the ABA confers. Past Brent Award honorees include the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  

The entire Outten & Golden family was saddened to hear about the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but no one more than our partner Kathleen Peratis, a close friend of Justice Ginsburg.

Kathleen served as the director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project from 1975 to 1979, during which she fought alongside Ginsburg on the gender discrimination cases the ACLU took to the Court. Of the six appeals Ginsburg argued before “the brethren,” she won five.