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MOVIE STUDIO VIOLATED WAGE LAWS BY NOT PAYING INTERNS

In the decision, Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that Fox Searchlight should have paid two interns on the movie “Black Swan,” because they were essentially regular employees.

The judge noted that these internships did not foster an educational environment and that the studio received the benefits of the work. The case could have broad implications. Young people have flocked to internships, especially against the backdrop of a weak job market.

Employment experts estimate that undergraduates work in more than one million internships a year, an estimated half of which are unpaid, according to Intern Bridge, a research firm.

“Employers have already started to take a hard look at their internship programs,” said Rachel Bien, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “I think this decision will go far to discourage private companies from having unpaid internship programs.”

Chris Petrikin, a spokesman for 20th Century Fox, said: “We are very disappointed with the court’s rulings. We believe they are erroneous, and will seek to have them reversed.”

Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, production interns on “Black Swan,” sued Fox Searchlight in September 2011. In the suit, Mr. Glatt and Mr. Footman said they did basic chores, usually undertaken by paid employees. Like their counterparts in other industries, the interns took lunch orders, answered phones, arranged other employees’ travel plans, tracked purchase orders, took out the trash and assembled office furniture.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Mr. Glatt, who has an M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University. “I hope that this sends a very loud and clear message to employers and to students doing these internships, and to the colleges that are cooperating in creating this large pool of free labor — for most for-profit employers, this is illegal. It shouldn’t be up to the least powerful person in the arrangement to have to bring a lawsuit to stop this.”

In the ruling, the judge said unpaid internships should be allowed only in very limited circumstances.”

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#HappyFriday

NEVADA MAKES INQUIRING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA ILLEGAL

“Unless it is necessary to comply with a state or federal law or regulation, effective October 1, 2013, it will be illegal for a Nevada employer to require, request, or even suggest that an employee or a prospective employee disclose the user name, password or other access information to his or her personal social media account.

The new law broadly defines “social media account.” It includes any electronic service or account, or electronic content, including videos, photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email programs or services, online services or Internet website profiles.

It will also be unlawful to fire, discipline, or discriminate against, (or fail to hire or promote), any employee or prospective employee who refuses, declines, or fails to provide this information.

It is only permissible to require an employee to provide the user name, password, or other information that is necessary to access the employer’s own internal computer or information system.

Action needed? We suggest that you educate the appropriate persons in your organization about the change in the law, and review your policies and procedures to ensure that their language is consistent with the new law.”

 

Originally posted by Fisher & Phillips and can be viewed at http://www.laborlawyers.com/nevada-inquiring-about-personal-social-media-will-be-illegal

LARGE COMPANIES ACCUSED OF DISCRIMINATION OVER CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

“Federal regulators Tuesday accused two large employers of improperly using criminal-background checks in hiring, the latest salvo in a contentious debate over whether such screening amounts to discrimination against black applicants.

In complaints filed in federal courts in Illinois and South Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said two companies discount retailer Dollar General Corp. DG -1.12% and a U.S. unit of German auto maker BMW AGBMW.XE -1.75% generally barred potential employees based on the criminal checks, when they should have reviewed each applicant. The commission said the policies had the effect of discriminating against black applicants.

The suits underscore increasing government scrutiny of criminal and credit checks, which are widely used to screen job applicants. Some 92% of employers use criminal-background checks for some or all job openings, according to a 2010 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management.

The EEOC issued guidance to employers last year, shortly after a unit of PepsiCo Inc. PEP -0.52% agreed to pay $3.1 million and change its screening policy to settle charges of discriminating against blacks by improperly using criminal checks. In some cases, the Pepsi bottling unit screened out applicants who had been arrested but never convicted.

The guidelines don’t bar the use of criminal checks, but urge employers to consider the crime, its relation to an applicant’s potential job, and how much time that has passed since the conviction. The guidelines also recommend that employers review each case individually, and allow applicants to show why they should be hired despite a conviction.

People convicted of crimes don’t get special protections under civil-rights laws, but the EEOC can sue if it believes information about prior convictions is being used to discriminate against a racial or ethnic group.”

Originally posted by The Wall Street Journal. For more information and to read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323495604578539283518855020.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

 

CITY OF BUFFALO JOINS ‘BAN THE BOX’ CLUB

“On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the Common Council of the City of Buffalo followed the lead of New York City, Newark, and Philadelphia, when it passed its own “ban the box” ordinance by a vote of 7-2. The ordinance, which amends Chapter 154 of the Code of the City of Buffalo, and which passed by enough votes to override any potential veto by Mayor Byron W. Brown, prevents the City of Buffalo, its vendors, and any Buffalo employer with at least 15 employees from asking questions regarding or pertaining to an applicant’s prior criminal convictions on any employment application.

Exempt from the law are the Departments of Police and Fire (or any other employer hiring for “police officer” and “peace officer” positions), public and private schools, and providers of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the physically or mentally handicapped. In addition, employers hiring for licensed trades or professions may ask applicants the same questions asked by the trade or professional licensing body, and employers are not constrained from asking questions about convictions or violations where the same would serve as a bar to employment in that position under New York or Federal law.

Employers who violate the new ordinance may find themselves liable in a civil action or proceeding for damages, injunctive relief and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Additionally, individuals may pursue relief by filing an administrative complaint with the Commission on Citizens’ Rights and Community Relations. In the event of a probable cause finding by the Commission’s Director, an action may be filed in court against the employer seeking a penalty of $500 for the first violation and/or $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

It should be noted that under the new ordinance, employers may still ask questions about and consider candidates’ prior criminal convictions during an initial interview that takes place after the application is submitted. However, employers that comply with the new Buffalo ordinance are still subject to the controversial Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the more stringent parameters of New York law. Specifically, New York Correction Law Article 23-A (encompassing §§ 750-755) and New York Executive Law § 296(15) make it unlawful to discriminate against an individual previously convicted of a criminal offense or by reason of a finding of lack of “good moral character” when such finding is based upon the fact that the individual has previously been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, unless:

  1. there is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the specific employment sought or held; or
  2. the granting or continuation of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

When making a determination as to whether the “direct relationship” or “unreasonable risk” exception applies, New York employers must consider the following eight factors

  1. The public policy of this state, as expressed in this act, to encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses;
  2. The specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to the license or employment sought or held by the person;
  3. The bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses for which the person was previously convicted will have on his fitness or ability to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities;
  4. The time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses;
  5. The age of the person at the time of occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses;
  6. The seriousness of the offense or offenses;
  7. Any information produced by the person, or produced on his behalf, in regard to his rehabilitation and good conduct; and
  8. The legitimate interest of the public agency or private employer in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

New York employers should keep in mind that undertaking this analysis is mandatory, a concept reinforced by the New York Court of Appeals in 2011 in Matter of Acosta v New York City Dept. of Educ., 16 N.Y.3d 309 (N.Y. 2011). This means that New York employers can run afoul of the law simply by failing to consider the eight factors listed above, regardless of whether the decision to not hire or rescind an offer of employment makes complete “business sense.”

With the passage of this ordinance, Buffalo continues the trend of some 50 other cities and counties that have similarly decided to “ban the box.” Additionally, some states like California, Illinois, and Massachusetts have passed state-wide “ban the box” legislation, with new bills (some of which are far more aggressive than the Buffalo ordinance) being introduced on a seemingly regular basis. For example, the “ban the box” bill recently introduced in the New Jersey Senate would prohibit private and public New Jersey employers from directly or indirectly inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history until after a “conditional offer of employment” has been made, and would impose additional procedural and administrative burdens which appear to be more significant than those required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.”

 

Originally posted by the law firm of Goldberg Segalla. For more information and to read more visit, http://www.goldbergsegalla.com/resources/news-and-updates/buffalo-joins-%E2%80%9Cban-box%E2%80%9D-club