Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
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The recently enacted Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (EFAA) represents one of the more impactful new laws affecting cases of workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Many employers historically force all new employees to agree to mandatory arbitration as a condition of accepting a job, then try to use that agreement to force workers’ claims of harassment into arbitration settings that the employers believed would be more advantageous to them. Now, with the EFAA in place, many workers harmed by sexual harassment can avoid that arbitration outcome, even if they signed an arbitration agreement when they took their jobs. An experienced New York sexual harassment lawyer can provide in-depth information and advice about whether the EFAA applies to your case and exactly how it may help you.

A recent case from here in New York City shows how the EFAA can work in an employee’s favor.

The employee, B.D., was an experienced costumer who, in September 2021, thought she’d landed a dream job — working as a costumer with one of Manhattan’s most prestigious dance troupes.

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In 1991, the FBI deemed Anita Hill’s accusation of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas inconclusive “because of the ‘he said, she said’ nature of the allegation and denial.” That marked one of the first instances of “he said, she said” referring to a disputed sexual or interpersonal interaction. In politics, a “he said, she said” allegation may yield little or no results for an accuser. However, in a civil lawsuit for discrimination or harassment, a “he said, she said” case can have distinct benefits. One of those is that, if you’ve established that yours is a “he said, she said” case, then you’ve likely demonstrated enough to defeat your employer’s motion for summary judgment. Whether you are in the process of seeking to defeat your employer’s motion for summary judgment or develop a winning trial presentation, it pays to have legal representation from an experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer.

The pregnancy discrimination case of F.B., a dental assistant in New York City, is an example of this type of case and its impact on an employer’s efforts to obtain summary judgment.

The assistant began working for a pediatric dental office in Manhattan in May 2019. Her job involved taking x-rays and being present in the examination room when others administered nitrous oxide.

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Some workers who endure workplace sexual harassment may be able to access extensive and wide-ranging proof that backs up their claims that they encountered illegal discrimination and that the discrimination they encountered caused them to suffer significant and tangible harm. A lot of time, though, a harassment victim doesn’t have all that. The key, if you’re someone who survived a workplace sexual harassment situation, is not to believe that the absence of a mountain of evidence automatically destroys your case, as this is not true. Depending on the facts that you can prove, you could still obtain compensation. To find out more and to get reliable answers to your sexual harassment questions, get in touch with an experienced New York sexual harassment lawyer to get the information and advice you need.

S.M. was a dancer who alleged sexual harassment. According to the lawsuit, G.O., the manager of the Queens club where S.M. danced, “requested sexual favors” from the club’s dancers, including S.M. In exchange, the manager allegedly promised to place receptive dancers on the club’s schedule for Friday and Saturday nights. (These shifts were the times when the club was busiest and provided dancers working those shifts the opportunity to earn especially large amounts of income.)

The manager also allegedly engaged in unwanted touching and made inappropriate sexual comments about S.M. and other dancers, including commenting on S.M.’s breasts and opining about her need for “a real man to take care” of her. Arguably even more disturbing, the manager placed a video camera in the dancer’s changing room and watched them dress and undress.

Pregnancy is an exciting and joyous time for many families. Sometimes, though, it comes with complications at work for expecting moms. An employer may chafe at the pregnant worker’s new limitations or her need for more time away from work (for prenatal medical appointments or parental leave.) Some of these employers respond to this by trumping up reasons to punish (or even fire) the worker. When that happens, the employer’s actions may have violated the laws against pregnancy discrimination. If you endured pregnancy discrimination or have questions about pregnancy discrimination, be sure to act swiftly to contact a knowledgeable New York pregnancy discrimination lawyer to get the answers and advice you need.

Of course, very few employers are going to tell a pregnant worker, “I’m mad that you’re pregnant. You’re fired!” Rather, the evidence is often more subtle and/or indirect, as a pregnancy discrimination case from here in New York City shows.

The employee, S.W., was a receptionist for a Manhattan medical office. In the fall of 2018, the receptionist informed her supervisor that she was pregnant.

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New York of one of the greatest economic centers on Earth. Given that reality, it is unsurprising that the array of applicants for work in New York includes far more than just New Yorkers. Some come from just across the Hudson River, while others come from halfway across the planet. When an employer illegally denies New York employment to an applicant for discriminatory reasons, that worker should be entitled to hire a New York employment discrimination lawyer and pursue the remedies available under New York City and New York State law. Depending on the outcome of a case currently before New York’s highest court, the law may soon be clear that they are, in fact, allowed to do exactly that.

The discrimination case began when an employee, N.S., initiated a race and gender discrimination lawsuit against Bloomberg L.P. in August 2020. A few months later, N.N., another female employee, joined the lawsuit.

Each woman’s circumstances differed in some ways. N.S. was a reporter working in Washington, D.C. and a woman of South Asian ancestry. N.N. was a news producer working in New York City and a woman of African ancestry. However, both employees’ situations had critical commonalities: both were women of color who worked for Bloomberg and both allegedly had suffered workplace harm because of their gender and their races. On those bases, both asserted claims under state law (the New York State Human Rights Law,) and city law (the New York City Human Rights Law.) (N.N. also alleged a violation of federal law (Title VII).)

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There’s a lot that goes into a successful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation action under the New York State Human Rights Law and/or the New York City Human Rights Law. There’s accumulating the necessary evidence, asserting the right claims, and meeting all of the necessary legal and procedural requirements, such as filing before the deadline passes. Ensuring that you’ve “checked” all these “boxes” can seem daunting — even utterly overwhelming — if you’re an everyday worker who’s experienced workplace misconduct. That’s why, if you’ve endured harm from discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, it’s well worth your while to retain the services of an experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer.

A recent case involving one Amazon worker is an example of some of these things, as well as the special circumstances that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about.

The worker, M.F., was an attorney but she also worked as a seasonal shopper for Amazon during the spring of 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged, the shopper became concerned about workplace safety. Allegedly, her bosses did not comply with COVID-19 safety protocols and “mocked, harassed and retaliated against” workers, including M.F., who raised objections to this failure to follow the protocols.

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As this blog has discussed many times before, most workers want to do their best and to be judged based on what they’ve done on the job, not what they look like, be it in terms of race/color, sex/gender identification, age, or disability. Employment discrimination based on any of those characteristics is illegal in New York City. In a few months, two more categories will be added to that list: height and weight, as a new expansion of the New York City Human Rights Law will be taking effect this November that protects workers on those bases. Whether yours is a size discrimination case, a disability discrimination case, a race or gender discrimination case, or some other type of illegal discrimination, be keenly aware that the odds of achieving your best possible outcome are often enhanced when you retain legal representation provided by an experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer.

In late May of this year, Mayor Eric Adams signed Intro. 209-A, which amends the NYCHRL to make its worker protections even more robust. As of Nov. 22, 2023, discriminating against workers due to their height and/or weight will be deemed an illegal employment practice and a violation of the NYCHRL.

The sponsor of Intro. 209-A hailed the expansion of the city’s anti-discrimination law. “Size discrimination is… a public health threat. People with different body types are denied access to job opportunities and equal wages — and they have had no legal recourse to contest it,” according to Councilmember Shaun Abreu.

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When someone with power over you in the workplace asks you to provide sexual favors in exchange for a workplace benefit (or threatens to punish you if you deny them sex,) that’s something the law calls “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. In New York City, workers are protected from this sort of dehumanizing misconduct by three laws: federal law’s Title VII, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. If you believe that you suffered this kind of harm on the job, you should reach out to an experienced New York sexual harassment lawyer to discuss your situation and map out your options.

In 2019, Cornell University released a report detailing the results of research into the pervasiveness of quid pro quo sexual harassment in New York. The research showed that nearly 11 percent — or roughly 1.7 million workers — had experienced quid pro quo harassment at some point in their careers. That included more than 12 percent of women and 9.5 percent of men. This study shows that quid pro quo harassment is an insidious, pervasive, and stubborn problem. (The old adage about how power corrupts seems appropriate here.)

Winning a quid pro quo harassment case requires understanding exactly what the legal standards are under each of Title VII, the NYSHRL, and the NYCHRL… and ensuring that what you’ve pled in your court papers meets what’s required by the law upon which you founded your claim. As some recent sexual harassment cases show, a quid pro quo harassment pleading is definitely a place where details matter.

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For some New York workers who have welcomed (or plan to welcome) new additions to their families, there’s good news. The rights and benefits available under New York State law have gotten a lot stronger in the past 12 months. The initiative, as Gov. Hochul put it, seeks to keep families from having “to try to make that tough decision between having a paycheck or having to spend time with their kids.” Contrary to certain antiquated gender-based stereotypes, a father’s time bonding with his new baby is just as valuable and beneficial as the time that baby spends with his/her mother. But even in recent years, research has shown that roughly one-third of new New York dads take no time off from work. While the state is working to inform dads of their legal rights, sometimes employers can be a hindrance. If you believe that your employer engaged in illegal misconduct regarding your paternity leave, you should get in touch with a New York family leave lawyer.

Harmful stereotypes regarding paternity leave remain stubbornly entrenched, even today. Less than two years ago, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg became the subject of headlines due to his parental leave.

That summer, Buttigieg and his husband welcomed baby twins. Buttigieg, like many new dads, took a period of parental leave from work. However, because the secretary’s leave overlapped with a worldwide supply chain crisis and Congressional debate regarding President Biden’s infrastructure proposal (“Build Back Better,”) Buttigieg received criticism for taking leave.

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Here in New York City, victims of sexual harassment in the workplace may have multiple avenues for seeking justice. At the federal level, there’s Title VII. At the state level, there’s the New York State Human Rights Law and, for workers here in New York City, there’s the New York City Human Rights Law. These laws each have crucial distinguishing features, including different standards for establishing a claim. In other words, just because you don’t have a viable Title VII claim, that doesn’t mean you should just give up, as you may still have a potentially winning claim under other statutes, such as the NYCHRL. A knowledgeable New York sexual harassment lawyer can help you go over the specifics of your situation and which legal options potentially can best help you.

One of the most important things to know, when it comes to comparing and contrasting federal vs. state vs. city law, is that the NYCHRL is highly worker-friendly. Depending on the timing of your case, the NYCHRL may offer a much better option than the NYSHRL, or the two may both represent strong options.

A recent sexual harassment ruling from Brooklyn illustrates what we mean.

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