Most people call us for one of four reasons when they are having problems at work:
- they are a licensed professional (such as a doctor, nurse, massage therapist, or engineer) and they are facing disciplinary charges;
- they need an employment contract or severance agreement reviewed;
- their employer is refusing to pay either earned wages or overtime pay; or
- they feel as though they are being targeted or discriminated against at work.
I am about to address these four common employment problems and provide information about your rights. If you read this information and think that you need to speak with an attorney, please feel free to call and schedule an appointment. For employment matters, I do not give free consultations. They are, however, valuable. Not only do we talk about the facts of your case, we also begin to develop a strategy for moving forward. If you would like to discuss your case with an attorney, you can schedule an initial meeting with us.
Disciplinary sanctions for licensed professionals can take a number of forms. The most minor types of discipline might be confined to a letter of reprimand placed in an employment file; more serious charges can result in a disciplinary inquiry from the New York State Office of the Professions and a license suspension or revocation. Sometimes, in the cases of professionals who handle controlled substances such as narcotics, the Department of Health may run an investigation. At their worst, misconduct charges can result in criminal prosecutions.
Disciplinary proceedings for licensed professionals are probably the most sensitive employment issues we handle. You often have very few legal rights during disciplinary proceedings, yet your license to practice can be in jeopardy. Sometimes we do all our work behind the scenes- we talk through problems with clients, we role-play interviews between you and the administrator assigned to investigate a case, and we discuss the pros and cons of different strategies. We understand that sometimes lawyers need to stay in the background. We also know that sometimes lawyers need to get out in front to protect you.
You can rely on my experience to determine what your situation requires, and how to best keep a situation under control. We have helped doctors, medical students, nurses, CEO’s, engineers, sales professionals, firefighters, police officers, town supervisors, physical therapists, chefs, servers, lawyers, and secretaries. We can help you. Call Attorney P. Adam Militello at (585) 485-0025 to schedule an appointment.
We have written and reviewed contracts for doctors, nurses, lawyers, administrators, not- for-profit CEOs and directors, technology managers, engineers, sales representatives, and many, many others. We can counsel you on whether the contract you are being asked to sign is fair and reasonable, and we can work with you to negotiate the best agreement possible. Call Attorney P. Adam Militello at (585) 485-0025 to schedule an appointment.
If your employer is refusing to pay your wages, or if you are an hourly employee and your employer doesn’t pay you overtime, you probably need to speak with an attorney. This is a serious problem in New York, and frankly, the laws are quite complex. You may be entitled to back pay, damages, and attorney fees. Please call Attorney P. Adam Militello at (585) 485-0025 to schedule an appointment.
Discrimination and Retaliation
New York is an “at-will” state. In other words, you can quit your job “at will,” and your employer can fire you “at will.” There is no law requiring you to give two-weeks notice, and there is no law requiring your employer to give you any notice before firing you. Employers can – and do – fire employees for bad reasons. It is very common for new managers to come into a business and fire smart, hardworking employees whom they do not like. For example, if a new manager comes into a business and a long-time employee suggests a better way for the manager to complete a task or do their job, the new manager may fire the long-time employee for no good reason. Perhaps the new manager feels threatened by the employee’s experience or skill. It doesn’t matter- as long as an employee isn’t being fired for his/her membership in a protected class, or for his/her protected conduct, that employee can be fired at will.
You may have seen that the New York Legislature is considering a law that would make workplace bullying illegal. That bill is not yet a law, so it isn’t in effect yet.
What is a protected class? You cannot be terminated because of your:
- age (if you are over 18),
- national origin,
- sexual orientation,
- military status,
- sex (including pregnancy),
- predisposing genetic characteristics,
- marital status,
- domestic violence victim status,
- and in some cases:
- your credit record, or
- your criminal record.
In other words, you might be fired or treated differently at work if you are African- American, but you can’t be fired or treated differently because you are African-American. If you are arguing with your boss or not doing your job, you can be fired no matter what your age, race, creed, or color. However, you cannot be fired because of your age, race, creed, or color (etc.).
What is protected conduct? You cannot be terminated because you report discrimination. For example, if you are a woman who is being paid less than a man to perform the same job, you cannot be fired or demoted for reporting that discrimination. If your employer did fire or demote you, you would be entitled to back pay, damages, and attorney fees.
You are also protected from firing or demotion if you report an illegal activity that poses a substantial risk to the public. For example, if you work for a hospital and you report an unsafe work practice, you cannot be fired or demoted for making the report. You could, however, be fired for being late to work even if you do report an unsafe practice.
If you think that you are being discriminated against because of your membership in a protected class, or because you engaged in protected conduct, you probably need to speak with an attorney. Call Attorney P. Adam Militello at (585) 485-0025 to schedule an appointment.
Where can I get more information?
If you read through this information and still need additional information, you may need to come in and speak with an attorney. Please call Attorney P. Adam Militello at (585) 485-0025 to schedule an appointment.