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Phillips & Associates
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The treatment of Black workers may have improved from, say, 50 years ago, but too many Black workers still face a wide array of brutal forms of discrimination and harassment on the job, ranging from racist paraphernalia like nooses and bananas to slurs like “monkey,” “gorilla,” or the N-word. No one should have to endure that. If you facing that at work, get in touch with an experienced New York City race discrimination lawyer to learn about the actions you can take.

M.S. alleged that he was one of those workers who dealt with that sort of toxic racial harassment. M.S. worked as a custodian for the New York City Department of Education for eight years, starting in 2008. For six of those years, the custodian periodically worked with S.M., a handyman for the department.

Allegedly, the handyman always addressed the custodian as “mono,” which is the Spanish word for monkey, and on one occasion, the custodian found a banana peel inside his mop bucket — a peel that the custodian believed the handyman placed in the bucket.

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Next month will mark five years since the death of noted American actor R. Lee Ermey. Perhaps Ermey’s most memorable role was portraying a verbally abusive Marine drill sergeant who trained a group of Marine recruits during the Vietnam War era. While the Marine Corps may have considered such methods appropriate then, this isn’t the 1960s and your New York workplace isn’t Parris Island. If you’re enduring verbal abuse at work — and that abuse focuses on your age, sex, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, etc. — then you may have a valid legal claim, so you should get in touch with a knowledgeable New York discrimination lawyer with all due haste to discuss your situation.

One worker who alleged that sort of misconduct was a woman who, at age 61, started as a correction officer trainee at the New York State Department of Corrections training academy.

According to the trainee’s age discrimination complaint, the torrent of harassment began almost immediately. During the trainee’s very first lineup, the drill sergeant “called her out of line, asked for her age and then said ‘God bless you’ in front of the other trainees.” From that moment on, other trainees, correction officers, and staff all began calling her “grandma” continuously.

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In a case of illegal retaliation, one of the crucial elements is something the law calls a “causal connection,” which is the linkage between the illegal conduct and the harmful employment action that followed. One powerful way to establish a causal connection is something called “temporal proximity,” which means closeness in time. To establish the sort of close temporal proximity needed for a proper causal connection, you need clear evidence that closely ties your punishment to your protected activity. When it comes to collecting this evidence and presenting the necessary arguments to the court, having an experienced New York retaliation lawyer on your side is essential.

A sexual harassment and retaliation case from Brooklyn is a clear illustration. J.E., the plaintiff, was a man who began working as a middle school teaching assistant in 2017. Later that year, S.L., a teacher at the school, allegedly began making unwanted sexual advances toward the assistant. The teacher made those advances repeatedly through the end of the school year, according to the assistant. The harassment allegedly included text messages like “We are hot white girls. You can’t handle us,” as well in-person harassment like calling the man her “Black lover.”

On May 10, 2018, the assistant reported the teacher’s harassment to the school principal. The principal allegedly did not believe him but did inform him of his right to file a claim with the Office of Equal Opportunity. The next day, the school suspended the assistant without pay and did not inform him of the basis for the suspension.

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For some workers, sexual harassment is something that can force them to confront some difficult choices, like whether or not to leave their job. Even if you’ve decided to stay in your current workplace, it is important to contact a knowledgeable New York sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible. The law erects some strict deadlines for taking action and failure to meet those deadlines potentially can have extremely harmful impacts.

For some other workers, these deadlines may trigger a loss of certain older pieces of evidence. For others, though, the law may allow you to use older incidents of harassment, even if they occurred outside the window of “timeliness” that the law generally allows.

One scenario in which that’s true is something called a “continuing violation,” of which a recent sexual harassment case from Westchester County is a good example.

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When you’ve been the target of sexual harassment at work, it may become necessary to seek relief through the legal system. Once you’ve decided to sue, your case can proceed in a variety of directions. Often, your employer will oppose you vigorously or will seek to settle. Sometimes, though, your employer won’t do anything at all. Just because your employer does nothing, success is not automatically yours. You still have procedural and evidentiary hurdles you must clear to get the compensation you deserve. An experienced New York sexual harassment lawyer can help you ensure you are doing everything necessary to maximize your success.

A sexual harassment case brought by a heterosexual woman and a gay man who worked at a pizzeria is an example of both the variety of potential pathways forward after you sue, and what’s necessary when a defendant does nothing.

The woman, who worked as a server, allegedly encountered both verbal and physical harassment. One of the three men who owned and managed the pizzeria, A.O., allegedly told the server on numerous occasions that he wanted to have sex with her. That owner also allegedly “inappropriately touched and grabbed” her from behind when she was stocking shelves.

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If you’ve been punished — such as being fired, demoted, suspended, or some other adverse employment action — for complaining about discrimination, you know that your employer will almost certainly not own up to the true reason for your punishment, but will put forth some seemingly reasonable and legitimate explanation. Succeeding in a retaliation case, then, means exposing the stated reason for the pretext it was, and showing the true reason motivating your employer. An experienced New York employment retaliation lawyer can help at every step in accomplishing these goals.

As a recent pregnancy discrimination and retaliation case from here in New York City demonstrates, one of the best ways to bolster your case is to create questions about your employer’s credibility by exposing inconsistent or contradictory statements.

The employee, S.K., was a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist who took a job with a medical center in New York City. In early 2012, the neuropsychologist became pregnant. She delivered her child in early October and began a twelve-week period of maternity leave. According to the doctor, she “had several conversations with colleagues and was told this was a ‘standard’ maternity leave.”

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There are many misconceptions people may have about age discrimination. People may misunderstand who can perpetrate age discrimination, what does (or does not) constitute illegal age discrimination, how often it occurs, and more. Don’t let misconceptions (or deception) about this area of the law keep you from seeking justice if you’ve been improperly fired, demoted, or otherwise treated adversely because of your age. An experienced New York age discrimination lawyer can help you assess your case and determine the best path for you.

One of those misconceptions about age discrimination is the frequency with which it occurs. (The AARP Foundation found that nearly 4 out of every 5 (78%) “of workers 55+ say they have seen or experienced age bias first-hand” at work.)

Another misconception is that, if you were replaced by a younger worker but you, the person who replaced you, and the person who made the employment decision were all over 40, then that scenario cannot possibly constitute a violation of discrimination law. As a recent age discrimination case from New York County reminds us, the latter also is untrue.

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On Feb. 1, 2023, Minnesota became at least the 20th state to enact a law that bans discrimination based on hair texture and natural hair styles. Back on Jan. 1, 2023, Illinois’s law barring similar forms of discrimination went into effect. Here in New York, the state and the city have recognized the unacceptable nature of discrimination based on both hair and head coverings. Hair discrimination is an insidious form of mistreatment, as its couches racially or religiously biased misconduct as appropriate under workplace rules barring “unprofessional appearance.” If you have encountered this sort of discrimination at your job, the law in this city and state can potentially protect you. Get in touch with an experienced New York race discrimination lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the options that exist for you.

A race discrimination case from last year is an example of how this type of misconduct can harm a worker. The plaintiff, A.G., was a Black woman of Guyanese ancestry. She also was a legal assistant at the New York office of a multi-state law firm, and someone who allegedly encountered discrimination that attacked her natural hairstyles as being unprofessional in her appearance.

According to the assistant, the employer engaged in several instances of race discrimination, many of which were related to hair. In one instance, an office manager allegedly accused A.G. of attending work with an appearance that was not “polished.” A.G.’s immediate supervisor issued a qualified refutation of that assessment, telling A.G. that “I’m not sure what she means, you dress far better than [a fellow legal assistant who was of Asian ancestry] and I, and your hair is nice, well not today but sometimes!” According to the complaint, the A.G. was wearing her hair in an Afro when the supervisor made the “not [nice] today” comment.

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It is sometimes said that anti-discrimination laws are not general civility codes. While that’s true, certain uncivil misconduct, if it occurs sufficiently frequently, be something more, exposing improper bias based on protected characteristics like race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, etc. When that happens, what you’ve endured crosses the line from rudeness to workplace discrimination and, with the aid of a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination lawyer, you can take action to obtain compensation for the damage you suffered.

One way this kind of discrimination can occur is when a worker endures mockery or insults based on their culture and/or language. This recent national origin discrimination case from here in Manhattan is an example.

The worker was a man of Chinese ancestry who worked as a director for the New York City Department of Finance. According to his lawsuit, coworkers targeted him on multiple occasions. These actions allegedly included correcting his pronunciation of certain English words (the director spoke English with a Chinese accent,) insulting his proficiency with the English language (pretending to be unable to understand him and frequently asking him to repeat himself even though they understood what he said,) and mocking his dish at a holiday potluck with comments like “you’re Chinese you bring those dumpling things.”

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Any successful employment discrimination case must begin with a well-written complaint. That complaint must properly plead sufficient factual allegations to support an “inference of discrimination.” Failure to do this may leave your case vulnerable to dismissal as a result of a motion filed by your employer. To protect yourself, make sure that you have the legal representation you need from a skilled and experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer from the very start.

In the discrimination case of a Brooklyn assistant principal, the issue was alleged adverse treatment based on the employee’s nationality.

M.B. was an Antiguan woman and a decades-long employee of the New York City Public Schools. She spent the last 18 years of her employment as an assistant principal at the same school in East Flatbush. Before her last year on the job, M.B. had never been “written up” for disciplinary issues.

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