Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
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Bias and discrimination have been part of the hiring process for as long as hiring processes have existed. Some employers have recently identified a potential solution: hiring done, not by people, but by AI (artificial intelligence.) It’s the perfect answer, right? Who could be more objective and unbiased than a computer? As the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Justice Department warned employers recently, using AI in hiring may not be a completely foolproof solution, and employers should proceed with caution lest they violate disability discrimination laws. Whether you were rejected by Mr. Smith, Ms. Jones, or Watson the Computer, if you think your disability played a role in that rejection, you need to get in touch with a knowledgeable New York City disability discrimination lawyer.

The guidance document, which came out earlier this month, was the federal response to employers who have begun using software that deploys algorithms and AI in parts of the new employee selection process. Algorithms and AI might be employed, for example, in administering online tests required of applicants, scoring applicants’ resumes, and making decisions about whether a particular applicant has or has not met the job’s required qualifications.

This all sounds pretty straightforward, so how could it be discriminatory? There actually are many different ways. The guidance document cited the example of an employer using “facial and voice analysis technologies” to evaluate applicants. While seemingly innocuous on the surface, this part of the process could have the effect of rejecting a person with a speech impairment, or a person with autism (whose eye contact and facial expressions might differ from those of non-disabled, neurotypical candidates,) even though those applicants with disabilities actually were qualified for the job.

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A recent ruling in a case involving female servers at a Brooklyn diner is important and instructive for several reasons. Not the least of which is that it reminds readers that the standards for proving sex discrimination or sexual harassment are different under the New York City Human Rights Law as opposed to state or federal law. Understanding the differences between the NYCHRL, the New York State Human Rights Law, and federal law can be crucial to your sex discrimination or sexual harassment case, so make sure that, before you file, you retain the services of an experienced New York City sex discrimination lawyer.

During her time working at the diner in Brooklyn, B.S. allegedly endured a variety of gross sexual improprieties and impositions. According to the server’s sexual harassment complaint she filed in federal court, her male supervisor once followed her into the women’s restroom, where he “cornered” her and exposed himself to her. On another occasion, that man allegedly asked B.S. to touch his genitals.

Unfortunately, the harassment was not limited to that supervisor. Other male workers at the diner allegedly touched the woman “in sexually inappropriate ways” and also would “leer and jeer at her in a sexual manner.” The server complained to other supervisors but, according to the lawsuit, they simply laughed at her. Not long after that, the diner fired B.S.

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If you believe that your employer has used its rules to discriminate against you because of your gender, you should get in touch with a knowledgeable New York City gender discrimination lawyer to discuss your options. The law has multiple different ways to prove gender discrimination, which means that there are multiple different avenues available.

There are two primary ways that an employer’s policies can be the basis of gender discrimination. One is if the policies specifically target and harm a protected group of which you are a member. “Women need not apply,” for example, is an example of gender discrimination on its face.

Other times, gender discrimination involves a facially neutral policy and more subtle discrimination. The discrimination is in, not the rule itself, but the way your employer goes about enforcing that facially neutral policy.

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Being pregnant can feel like an extremely vulnerable time. That may include feeling vulnerable with regard to your and your family’s financial security. Losing one’s job due while pregnant is a very real concern for many. Sometimes, those pregnant women are just the victims of bad luck. A lot of times, though, those women are the victims of something more nefarious, and that something is pregnancy discrimination. If that’s happened to you, a knowledgeable New York pregnancy discrimination lawyer can help you determine if you potentially have a winning case.

Here are two recent cases from the federal court system that provide some clear insight into what is — and what isn’t — a powerful case of pregnancy discrimination.

In the more recently resolved pregnancy discrimination matter, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a Long Island-based company that leased storage containers. That company had, in early April 2018, hired a woman who was 12 weeks pregnant at the time. The woman wasn’t “showing” yet and she did not divulge the pregnancy to her employer.

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In this day and age, you might think that people in supervisory roles in the workplace would understand that the team members who work for them are not their dating pool. Regrettably, if you thought that, you’d often be proven wrong, as court dockets have no shortage of cases where exactly that sort of misconduct allegedly occurred. People go to work to achieve goals, get paid, and maybe make the world a better place, not to be “hit upon” or propositioned. If you have endured that kind of workplace, don’t think you simply have to put up with it. Instead, get in touch with a knowledgeable New York City sexual harassment lawyer to discuss your options.

J.F., a woman in her 30s, allegedly was one of those workers who endured that sort of sexual harassment. It began in March 2019, when she took a job as a merchandise coordinator with an e-commerce entity in New York City. Allegedly, the sexual harassment began almost immediately.

During the woman’s first week on the job, her male supervisor asked her a string of problematic questions, which included things like “are you a lesbian?” and “do you have cats?” The supervisor explained his question by opining that he “figured at your age that if there weren’t kids or marriage that there must be a cat in the picture,” according to the complaint.

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Earlier this month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a new “technical assistance document” regarding employment discrimination and harassment that targets people with caregiver responsibilities. This new publication represents the federal government’s recognition of how employers can possibly violate federal laws when dealing with these workers. Here in New York, the state and the city have strong protections safeguarding caregivers in the workforce. If you think you’ve endured discrimination or harassment because of your caregiver responsibilities, then it’s worth your while to contact a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination lawyer and find out what you can do.

The new document from the EEOC also recognizes that the numerous unique challenges workers with caregiver responsibilities face has only increased in this age of COVID-19.

An employee can be the victim of illegal discrimination in many ways when it comes to caregiver status and COVID-19. One hypothetical example the EEOC used was an employer that made remote work and modified schedules an option for its female employees but not its male employees during periods when schools were closed to in-person learning. This assumption about who bore the majority of caregiver responsibilities for school-aged children was not only sexist, it also represented a potential Title VII violation by treating women employees better than men employees.

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An old proverb says that a “little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” In few areas is that more true than the law. Some non-lawyers fancy themselves knowledgeable in the law. They may have taken a seminar discussing an area of the law, they may even engage with the law semi-regularly at work, but they may still not know the law. Sometimes, the impacts of that are benign. Other times, especially when it comes to employment law, the effects most definitely are not. If you’re someone who had this kind of experience and suffered workplace harm as a result of it, do not delay in getting in touch with an experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer.

One of the latest examples comes from a hostile work environment case from here in the city. The plaintiff, M.G., worked at an employment agency in Brooklyn. One day, a male coworker swore at a female coworker. That included calling her the “B-word.” The female coworker complained to management.

A week and a half later, during a meeting that included M.G., the male coworker, and the CEO, the CEO indicated that the female coworker would be terminated. The CEO also decided to conduct an impromptu legal seminar, telling M.G. that a coworker could call her that B-word and that such conduct “was not discrimination.”

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A few years ago, many news sources covered an array of stories where “zero-tolerance” rules — either in schools or workplaces — yielded unjust, and sometimes absurd, results. What these stories taught was the peril that comes with applying any set of rules too rigorously without discretion, common sense, and sometimes a dose of compassion. When that takes place in an employment setting and the employee harmed is a person with disabilities, that employer’s intractable action may give that worker, with the assistance of an experienced New York City disability discrimination lawyer, a winning discrimination lawsuit under federal, state, or city law.

Consider the disability discrimination case of K.G., a Con Ed employee in Manhattan. At that time, Con Ed required employees to submit to random drug tests. On Dec. 21, 2016, K.G. tested positive for marijuana. Three weeks later, Con Ed fired her, allegedly because its workplace policies called for zero tolerance for the use of illegal drugs among workers who had been with the company for less than six months.

Seems pretty straightforward on those facts, doesn’t it? Con Ed prohibited marijuana use among employees, K.G. used, so the employer was entitled to make the termination, right?

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When you’re a working woman who becomes pregnant, you face many challenges, even if yours is one of the “easiest” pregnancies possible. Those challenges only multiply if your pregnancy comes with complications. Complications may mean that you have special needs, such as requiring more time off from work than you (and perhaps your employer) had originally planned. When complications happen, the law has various protections. Not only can your employer not discriminate against you because of your pregnancy, but your employer also may not discriminate based on your pregnancy-induced disabilities. If your employer does either (or both) of these things, then you may have a legal case under state and/or federal law, so you should contact an experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyer about your situation.

T.M. was one of those pregnant women allegedly harmed by workplace discrimination. She applied for a job as an EMS dispatcher. The employer hired her and scheduled a start date. However, five days before that start date, preeclampsia caused T.M.’s doctors to induce her into early labor and deliver her son prematurely.

Preeclampsia is a condition among pregnant women in which they develop hypertension (high blood pressure,) typically after 20 weeks of pregnancy, despite previously having normal blood pressure. It is a common pregnancy complication, occurring in 5-8% of all pregnancies, and occurring at even higher rates among certain communities of color, especially Black and Latina mothers.

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When you endure discrimination at work and decide to undertake legal action based on that discrimination, some things may happen and there are other things that you reasonably can expect will happen. Once you sue, you can plan on your employer trying to attack your claims in every way possible. When that happens, it pays to have a skilled New York City employment discrimination lawyer to get the evidence you need to shoot down those defense arguments.

A recent pregnancy discrimination case from Brooklyn shows what we mean. C.L. was a woman who, in 2012, had been working for a hospital in East Flatbush for six years as a “community access coordinator.” That December, she sought (and her employer approved) maternity leave. So far so good, right?

However, in 2013, the hospital assigned a new supervisor over C.L. That woman allegedly made “disparaging remarks” about C.L.’s pregnancy and maternity leave. On June 25, C.L.’s first day back from her 16-week maternity leave, the hospital fired her, asserting that her position had been eliminated.

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