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Workers in New York have a right to be paid fairly, not only according to minimum wage and overtime laws, but also in accordance with their employment contracts and agreements. Failure to abide by these agreements is a form of wage theft, and companies will be ordered to pay for engaging in such tactics.
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A recent high-profile wage theft case in New York involves a pizza shop franchisee with five shops in Harlem. The New York County Supreme Court has ordered the business to reimburse its delivery workers more than $2 million for unpaid wages, expenses that weren’t reimbursed, various damages and interest.

The lawsuit was filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last October. It is the latest in a string of judgments against franchise owners of the same restaurant.
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After suffering a sexual assault in a Stony Brook University dorm room, she suffered flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares.
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Still, she pushed forward in pursing the case through the university’s internal disciplinary procedures. She expected the experience would be difficult and trying. She did not anticipate being forced to prosecute her rapist on her own, despite having zero legal training.

The process reportedly required her to question the alleged attacker on the witness stand, and to also be subjected to cross-examination directly from him.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed against the university for violation of Title IX. This is a federal statute that bars gender discrimination at institutions of higher education that rely on money from the U.S. government. The law also encompasses claims of sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment.
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New York has always been in-demand as far as real estate goes, but when property prices started to soar a few years ago, the rush to build new structures to meet the rising demand was feverish. chrysler.jpg

The problem, however, is that it now appears many of those jobs weren’t done correctly. In what appears to be a repeat of the last housing boom, it seems many construction companies were more concerned with meeting deadlines and cranking out more buildings, as opposed to ensuring they were erecting a quality product.

Among the growing number of complaints:

  • Balconies that are cracking;
  • Concrete flaking from the exterior walls;
  • Basements prone to flooding due to inadequate drainage-sewage connections;
  • Inadequate insulation;
  • Water filtration problems;
  • Malfunctioning elevators.

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Every worker has a right to expect their employer will pay them fair wages for work in accordance not only with the employment contract or agreement, but, at bare minimum, in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
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Unfortunately, this all too often does not happen. In these instances, when employers refuse to acknowledge the discrepancy, provide back-pay, correct error, or when they engage in retaliatory action as a result of reporting the violation, workers can and should seek remedy in the form of a wage-and-hour lawsuit.

However, when a judgment is secured, sometimes workers may have a tough time collecting. Now, a coalition of labor advocates and public interest legal groups are calling on state and federal lawmakers to make changes in state law that would pave the way for easier collection of stolen wages and other damages.
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City and state officials have founded a task force with the sole purpose of protecting tenants from landlords who bully and harass them in an effort to pressure them into giving up their rent-stablized apartment to higher-paying tenants.
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The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force will be responsible from investigating complaints from tenants that landlords are using certain techniques to force tenants out. The task force will be given the authority to take action on behalf of the tenant and possibly to pursue criminal charges.

Tenant harassment may include (but is not limited to):

  • Intentional denial of services or repairs
  • Yelling, issuing threats or name-calling
  • Physical intimidation or violence
  • Taking tenants to court again and again without good reason
  • Entering an apartment in a non-emergency without notifying tenant in advance
  • Conducting disruptive and potentially dangerous repairs that aren’t necessary

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Landlords and tenants have been warring with one another over “subletting” units to Airbnb customers. rentalunits.jpg

Tenants who do so are reportedly violating their lease agreements and city laws, while landlords are accused of doing the same with neighboring units, causing disturbances to long-term tenants.

Meanwhile, the city too has been filing lawsuits, seeking preliminary injunctions against home homeowners operating “illegal hotels” on the apartment-sharing website. That resulted in litigation filed against Airbnb by several unit owners alleging breach of contract for releasing purportedly private information to the city.
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All parents have a right to trust that when they send their child to school, the teachers, administrators and employees will provide a safe learning environment.
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When this does not happen, there are a number of legal theories upon which parents can pursue court action against the district. Those include premises liability law, which requires the city/school to keep the property in safe condition. It can also include some situations in which the child is assaulted, bullied or falls ill and the school fails to control the situation or come to the aid of the student.

A recent lawsuit out of Queens alleges a special education teacher reportedly punched a pupil with a closed fist for allegedly cheating on a test. The 36-year-old teacher has since been arrested on charges of felony assault, harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. A second mother has come forward as well, alleging the same teacher “terrorized” her daughter earlier in the school year. She too has filed a lawsuit.
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Increasingly, New York City is settling civil rights claims for sizable amounts before those harmed even formally file a lawsuit.
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There was the recent case of a former U.S. Marine who suffered mental illness and died in an overheated jail cell. His family was given $2.25 million in compensation. Then there were three half-brothers, convicted of a murder it was later proven they didn’t commit. They received $17 million. In another case, a man who served 23 years in prison before he was proven innocent received $6.5 million.

It’s never been unusual for individuals and families who have suffered profound losses as a result of civil rights violations by local, state and federal government employees to receive ample compensation. It’s not even all that unusual for both sides to reach a settlement prior to a case reaching the trial phase. What is unique is the fact those wronged never even had to file a lawsuit.
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Tenant “blacklisting” is something many New York City renters may never have heard of – but which could potentially mar their chances of landing a good location years after a landlord dispute.elder.jpg

The process has been facilitated in recent years by so-called “tenant screening” companies. There are nearly 700 of them across the country. Their “blacklist” is actually a collection of data of lawsuits filed by or against landlords in housing court. It doesn’t matter the reason or the outcome of the resolution. A lot of times, a landlord-tenant lawsuit has more to do with whether the landlord is bad, rather than whether the tenant is good.

An example recently detailed in an NPR story involved a father who lived in the Bronx in 2009 with his wife and young son. However, when he discovered rats coming up from the basement into their first-floor unit, he asked managers of the building to take care of the problem. Despite repeated entreaties, nothing was done. Tenant decided to withhold his rent, which can be a powerful tactic to force uncooperative landlords to make necessary and legally-mandated repairs. But what happened in that case, as in so many others, is the landlord turned around and sued the tenant for eviction for nonpayment of rent. Tenant and landlord later settled the case out-of-court, but the lawsuit remained on record.
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The New York City Council is expected to weigh in on the city’s employment practices as they pertain to school district cleaners and other custodial employees.
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The problem, say fair pay advocates for the workers, is that some custodial employees are hired to work as “custodial engineers” for the public school district, as opposed to “private contractor custodians,” who are hired by the city. The former are paid $19.72 hourly, while the latter are compensated $23.85 an hour.

That difference breaks down to approximately $8,000 annually, and this is despite the fact these workers essentially do the same jobs at the same schools and sometimes are even working on the exact same block.
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