Urba Law PLLC, a New York employment law firm, handles:

Litigation, arbitration, and mediation.

V. Jonas Urba, Esq. litigates and negotiates:

  1. Employment discrimination claims
  2. Unpaid wage claims including misclassified salaried
  3. Employment agreements (severance, non-compete, non-solicitation)

Jonas earned an MBA and then graduated from law school in 1988. He immediately passed the multi-state bar exam. The very next year he was sworn into his first federal district court and has been admitted to 4 more federal district courts. He was admitted to New York’s Southern District Court in 2014 and to New York’s Eastern District Court in 2015.

Jonas has practiced law exclusively in New York State since 2012. He maintains an inactive license in the State of Massachusetts.

In 2004 Jonas became a certified mediator after which he mediated numerous civil cases. In 2011 he passed an examination which earned him a Certified Fraud Examiner credential. Those skills are very useful when handling employment law matters on behalf of employees and employers.

Not everyone wants to litigate. Jonas understands that. But unless we prepare every matter for potential litigation neither you nor your lawyer will be ready if that becomes your only option.

We need to prepare most matters for potential litigation in:

A. New York Federal District Courts

B. New York Supreme and Administrative Courts statewide

C. New York Mediation and Arbitration statewide

Helping Employees / small Employers.

Most clients are employees or former employees. Small employers who need immediate help are always welcome. Law firms will ask you who you work or worked for. We need to determine potential conflicts of interest up front and do. We never disclose that you are a client unless you retain us and authorize such disclosure. Occasionally, we have a potential conflict of interest. In the unlikely event that you contact an employment law firm which represents your employer or former employer the law firm must state “we have a conflict of interest or potential conflict” and stop. Your employer or former employer would never know that you reached out to any law firm. Your attempted communication is confidential and all law firms should keep it that way. We can’t disclose your attempt to obtain legal help and never do unless by agreement.

Most lawyers and judges are flexible enough to analyze and argue both sides (how would an employee prove their claim and how would an employer defend against that employee’s allegations) when needed. An employment lawyer unable to do that misses holes in claims. And missed holes lead to miscommunications. And miscommunications can create unrealistic expectations. Urba Law PLLC strives to view claims from both sides, communicates clearly, and does whatever it can to minimize potential disappointments; inevitable with litigation.

Severance pay is rarely Automatic.

Maybe all you want is “reasonable severance” from your former employer. Is such an expectation reasonable?

Let’s do a quick analysis which is part of every employment law claim. Firstly, no New York, private employer owes any “at will” employee severance pay. No New York Labor Law requires any private employer to pay anyone severance of any kind. Some employees insist that the employer’s handbook guarantees such pay. But those handbooks almost always state that they are subject to change with or without notice. Most handbooks include language that no contracts are created by their language. Employees sometimes argue that their signatures, acknowledging receipt of handbooks, created employment contracts in spite of language stating that “at will” employment relationships would not be altered. Rarely, if ever, does an employment handbook create an enforceable employment agreement. The handbook creates policies which, if followed, can support arguments that either side complied with its duties or obligations as printed within handbooks. Laws and legal requirements change. It’s not uncommon to see employee handbooks which have not been updated for years or which refer to legal requirements which have been amended.

Defining “reasonable”.

Employer policies are subject to change. Sometimes without notice and verbally. Black’s Law Dictionary (Fifth Edition) defines “reasonable” as “fair, proper, just, moderate, suitable under the circumstances.” Employment lawyers conduct legal research before giving opinions on whether a proposed action is reasonable or not, regardless of which side they represent.

Discrimination is rarely easy to prove.

Several months ago a potential client remarked: “but that’s gonna be really hard to prove.” Employment discrimination is rarely easy to prove. Title VII covers the broadest classes of protected employees. In New York, employers are prohibited from making employment decisions motivated by an employee’s membership within one or more protected classes including:

  1. Disability or Perceived Disability
  2. Sex, gender, sexual orientation, sex stereotyping, sexual harassment [hostile work environments can include other types of discrimination]
  3. Religion, religious accommodation
  4. National Origin or Color
  5. Pregnancy Discrimination
  6. Hostile Work Environment if motivated by an employee’s protected class membership
  7. Eight (8) or more years difference in ages might support an age discrimination charge if age was the “but for” factor of a specific employment action; which could include other protected class(es).

Most of us have seen or experienced conduct which looks like discrimination at work. Our judicial bodies, whether federal, state, or administrative law judges, limit hearing claims to those where plausible theories of discrimination are alleged. Without such limitations, employers and workplaces might disappear. We would all be self-employed.

U.S. Supreme Court language:

“Title VII is not a general civility code.” Every employee or plaintiff bears the burden of proof. Uncivil workplaces are not necessarily ones operating against the law. No court can protect everyone from unpleasant workplaces nor do they try to do so. Courts protect employees from working in hostile or discriminatory job sites. Each year employment contracts, whether private or collective (union agreements), become more important.

Industry Experience.

V. Jonas Urba has held positions in higher education, health care, sales, manufacturing, retail, fitness, and other industries. He has run his own law firms for more than twenty (20) years and has worked as in-house counsel and for a number of small and medium sized law firms.

Jonas Urba is a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association in New York. He owns Urba Law PLLC in Westchester.
V. Jonas Urba, Esq., over 20 years of employment law experience nationwide

We will talk with you. We need to get to know you a bit. This is all we do. A few minutes on the phone is often priceless. We will tell you what we think and we will help you see why we need to know the secrets. Because we can’t tell anyone your past secrets! Ever! Unless you authorize us to do so.

We serve the entire state of New York.

You might be here in Westchester County or Midtown New York City or in Albany, Buffalo, or Rochester. If we can’t help you we will try to direct you to a professional or an organization who can.

Are you being discriminated or retaliated against for protected workplace activity?

Lately, many calls are coming from employees whose supervisors are making their lives miserable. That is not necessarily illegal or improper.

We might ask you about your performance evaluations. How do they look?Do you have a history of adequate or above average performance?

If not, do you have a new manager or supervisor? Employers are allowed to change performance criteria and what they expect from employees. They may not discriminate against one or more protected classes of employees when doing so.

What protected classes of employees do you belong to? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act lists most of the classes as does the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal, state, and local laws.

Are you being retaliated against because you complained of discrimination at work? Legal theories are best left for employment lawyers. But every employment matter should be handled as if it will eventually go to court. If it’s not handled that way, it may be very difficult to get it into that posture down the road when that becomes necessary.

And if you end up in court, make sure you have an employment lawyer on your side. Some employees think no big deal, I have settled claims before. An employment law claim is very unique. And employment settlement agreements are even more unique and complicated. Highly educated people sign documents without understanding the consequences of doing so.

And if you file a lawsuit in any court without being a member of the bar, good luck. Judges are good people. Many will try to help you. But they are no substitute for legal counsel nor will they have the time nor can they draft a plausible theory of recovery on your behalf. Most pro se, and even many represented employee, complaints are dismissed. The carefully drafted court decisions speak for themselves.

Employees have duties to tell their employers about workplace discrimination. Unless they did so employers might have no way to take corrective action.

Employees who file discrimination complaints do not insulate themselves from disciplinary action. Employers can continue to discipline employees for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons even if discrimination occurred.

Employees need to give their employers, usually human resources departments, enough facts that the employer is on notice of race, religion, national origin, gender or other types of alleged discrimination to investigate. Employers do not have to guess or go on witch hunts to uncover discrimination. Describe the offensive language used, or offensive conduct to which the employee was exposed, for the discrimination to be investigated.

Remember that your best discrimination theory might not be one you or even your lawyer immediately recognized. Sometimes it takes hours of interviews before uncovering an employer’s true motivation.

Consult legal counsel before claiming discrimination on suspension if you did not complain in the past!

Many suspended employees call employment lawyers. Being suspended is a critical fact which should be disclosed to potential legal counsel! Suspended employees tend to be close to termination. Any analysis of potential discrimination for a suspended employee will be much different than for an employee with no formal disciplinary history. An employee’s failure to disclose their suspension up front can affect credibility.

Trying to use a discrimination complaint in defense of performance issues can backfire. Your employer has every right to discipline you for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason regardless of whether or not you complained. Unless other members of the class or classes to which you belong received similarly bad treatment, which non-members were spared, start gathering your documentary evidence and witness contact information now.

Retaliation can occur after discrimination is reported; rarely after poor performance is noted.

Some warning signs at work.

Be on the lookout for corporate mergers and buyouts. Changes in management often trigger reductions in force. If you have always performed well and are suddenly rated lower for no apparent reason that could be a sign of a coming reduction in force (RIF).

Many New Yorkers work for the same employer for decades. That’s unusual for the USA. If that’s you, being out of the job search market for years may present challenges which you should prepare for as soon as possible.

Common Law is good law in New York.

The common law is broadly “the ancient unwritten law of England.” Most employees have some general familiarity with workplace laws written by New York’s and our federal legislatures. But it’s not uncommon for courts in New York State to refer to or adopt common law principles. In scenarios where no modern laws apply, common law principles often govern. Those doctrines apply even in workplaces.

Faithless Servant Doctrine, Master Servant Doctrine, and Duty of Loyalty to employers are good law in New York. It’s surprising how many employees and even attorneys are not aware of this.

Doctrine of Mitigation of Damages or Avoidable Consequences lives in NY.

A number of years ago we got a call from a lawyer who had been practicing law for 40 years. This attorney did not specialize or focus their practice on employment law matters. It quickly became clear that this attorney’s client had not been informed about the Doctrine of Mitigation of Damages. Since that attorney’s client had failed to keep looking for work after losing a job years prior, the wage loss damages, which every employee has the burden to prove at trial, was severely impaired by the attorney’s failure to notify an employee client.

Faithless Servant Doctrine.

We see this when new management takes over or a new supervisor shows up. Many employees believe that if they continue doing their jobs as usual, nothing bad can happen. Supervisors generally have the authority to change job titles, job duties, job assignments, and some even have the ability to make new policies. This should not shock employees but it does.

Sometimes employees call out management for conduct which looks and may be illegal. For example, pay practices. Employees have every right to file complaints, usually with human resources and sometimes with state or federal regulatory agencies. But employees can not conduct their own work stoppages, pickets, or disrupt any business unless they have complied with the NLRB’s guidelines for organizing labor or trying to bargain collectively. Such activities must be conducted on an employee’s own time even if an employee disputes an employer’s pay practices, which might be illegal.

Performance standards are at management’s discretion unless governed by contracts. Employee handbooks are generally not contracts even after an employee signs their acknowledgment of receipt of a handbook.

Insubordination usually concludes badly.

Urba Law PLLC focuses on:

Client reviews include the following:  https://www.urbanylaw.com/new-york-employment-law-914-366-7366/client-reviews/

Employment Law Reality Check?

Employment law is all about strong, provable facts.

Wrongful termination is highly misunderstood. It means illegal or unlawful termination. That usually requires a broken contract or evidence to support employment discrimination which can include a hostile workplace.

Most employees are “at will”. They can be terminated for no reason. And most can quit for no reason. Generally, notice is not required. Employees with contracts have more rights. An individual employment contract protects one employee. A collective bargaining agreement or union contract protects all members of that union in the same way.

Government employees are often ones with the most protection.

Many employment terminations are not fair. But unfairness is not illegal.

Others are fired for bad reasons. But firing for bad reasons is not illegal. The termination must be for an unlawful reason or reasons to be actionable in most cases.

Reality check was created to help the public (including attorneys who do not limit their practices to employment law) understand these realities. And to encourage anyone facing an employment dispute to call employment lawyers. Many if necessary. And then retain one if the facts support doing so.

It’s a public service message brought to the public with short video clips on YouTube at Employment Law Reality Check.

Laws protecting employees.

Discrimination often includes working in a hostile workplace or for a manager who acts in a hostile manner. Title VII, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Laws plus the ADA, FRA, ADEA, PDA, and other human rights laws might apply.

Another group are employees who have not been paid for all work performed. Often these employees have unpaid overtime claims. They may accrue under New York’s wage laws or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The final group have written document issues. It might be negotiating a severance agreement’s terms, a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, trade secrets or concern an employee handbook for an employer.

https://www.urbanylaw.com/employment-lawyers-new-york-914-366-7366/contact-form-or-914-366-7366/hostile-workplace/

https://www.urbanylaw.com/employment-lawyers-new-york-914-366-7366/contact-form-or-914-366-7366/unpaid-overtime/

https://www.urbanylaw.com/employment-lawyers-new-york-914-366-7366/contact-form-or-914-366-7366/

https://www.urbanylaw.com/proud-of-our-2nd-circuit-coa/

https://www.urbanylaw.com/employment-lawyers-new-york-914-366-7366/contact-form-or-914-366-7366/severance-agreement/

https://www.urbanylaw.com/employment-lawyers-new-york-914-366-7366/contact-form-or-914-366-7366/client-reviews/

Urba Law PLLC, 520 White Plains Rd., Ste. 500, Tarrytown, NY 10591