Articles Posted in Retaliation

As most people — lawyers and non-lawyers alike — know, most civil lawsuits start with a complaint, followed by a response from the defense, after which comes pre-trial discovery and motions, possible settlement negotiations, and if the case is still unresolved, a trial. Sometimes, though, cases don’t follow that usual path. An experienced New York City sexual harassment lawyer can help your hostile work environment case in lots of ways, especially when your case doesn’t follow the typical pattern listed above.

For example, what do you do when you file your sexual harassment complaint and the defense responds by doing… nothing?

That was the scenario facing B.M., a woman working in the investments and finance business. She was a successful hedge fund analyst and consultant who, in 2021, took a position in investor relations with a Lower Manhattan-based firm.

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Retaliation is a very real problem for many workers. These workers reasonably fear that, if they speak up against discrimination or sexual harassment — either what they’ve endured or that targeted someone else, they run the risk of professional harm. No worker should fear losing their job because they spoke out in opposition to harassment or discrimination. If that has happened to you, be aware that retaliation is an illegal practice and you have a right to pursue legal action. A knowledgeable New York City employment retaliation lawyer can show you how.

A hospital worker upstate recently overcame his employer’s motion to dismiss his retaliation claim, making for a good example of what it takes to present a viable retaliation case.

Here were the facts as described in the court opinion: M.Z. started working at the hospital’s phlebotomy lab in September 2018. M.Z.’s employment contract ended at the end of the year but the employer allegedly told him that it would “automatically” be renewed.

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Many studies agree that sexual harassment is a widespread problem in the restaurant industry. Last summer, around the same time that celebrity chef Mario Batali agreed to settle a case brought by the New York Attorney General, NPR reported that a 2021 study from Social Science Research Solutions found that 71% of female restaurant workers had experienced some degree of sexual harassment on the job. For female tipped workers, the number was even higher, at 76%. If you’ve endured harassment in your restaurant work, you don’t have to be quiet and tolerate it. Instead, you can take action by getting in touch with a knowledgeable New York City sexual harassment lawyer to discuss and go over your legal options.

Undeniably, workplace harassment is damaging to its victims. On top of the harassment itself, speaking out against harassment comes with its own separate set of problems, mainly retaliation. Complaining about inappropriate comments, jokes, or sexual advances, whether perpetrated by coworkers, supervisors, or customers, potentially can cost some women their jobs. For those living “paycheck to paycheck,” a sudden and unplanned job loss like that can be catastrophic.

This harassment is almost always more than just an intemperate remark or a few slightly problematic jokes. Take, for example, the sexual harassment case of R.C. and several other female workers at a Rochester restaurant.

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When your employer retaliates against you at work because you engaged in some sort of protected activity (like pursuing a discrimination or harassment claim or assisting in someone else’s discrimination or harassment claim,) getting proof of that retaliation often isn’t easy. That negative performance review won’t say your “unsatisfactory” grade was the result of your discrimination complaint. When it comes to proving the retaliation you endured, rely on a knowledgeable New York discrimination lawyer to help you get the evidence you’ll need.

R.D. was one of those employees who allegedly endured retaliation for a discrimination complaint. She was an educator who began teaching at a public high school in Washington Heights in 1997. In 2005, she became an assistant principal.

Things presumably proceeded uneventfully until after Y.D. took over as principal in the fall of 2016. Y.D. was 18 years younger than R.D. and allegedly engaged in multiple acts of hostility, including ridiculing R.D. and undermining her with other administrators and teachers.

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The law bars your employer from punishing you for engaging in certain forms of “protected activity.” Protected activity may be something formal like a written complaint to your employer’s Human Resources Department about discrimination you endured at work, but the range of things that can fall under the umbrella of “protected activity” is broader than just formal complaints. It can be something as basic as verbally complaining to your supervisor. It could even be something wholly unrelated to discrimination against you, such as answering questions or serving as a witness in a coworker’s discrimination case. Whether you were opposing discrimination or harassment that targeted you or someone else, you’re entitled to be free from negative consequences for it. If you’ve suffered punishment on the job, then that may constitute retaliation and you should discuss the matter with a knowledgeable New York City employment retaliation lawyer.

A recent retaliation case from here in New York City illustrates how broad the range of “protected activities” can be. The employee was a Planned Parenthood worker and also a Jewish woman.

While working at Planned Parenthood, the woman allegedly heard multiple discriminatory comments, including her supervisor saying that she didn’t “want an old Jewish woman running a multicultural department” and another high-ranking employee saying that “there were too many white Jewish Chief Executive Officers in positions of power, and it [was] time to get them out,” according to the lawsuit.

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Many people in today’s world of work may be employed by one entity, but they may not necessarily work for that entity alone. There may be one or more other entities with the power to exert genuine control over you and the work you do. Working for an employment structure that includes many layers can be tricky, especially if you need to pursue a discrimination, harassment, or retaliation case. These cases can be challenging because, even if you win, your direct employer may lack the financial wherewithal to pay the damages award you recover. To that end, it often makes sense to include a larger entity as your “joint employer.” Successfully pleading these cases can be complex, so you need to make sure you have proper legal representation from a knowledgeable New York City employment retaliation lawyer.

One recent case involved a security guard who worked at various United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournaments, including the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows. A firm hired the guard to work the 2016 U.S. Open, but his supervisor later discovered that the USTA refused to grant the guard credentials because he had previously made a race discrimination claim (that had settled in 2015.)

The guard sought to sue the USTA for race discrimination and retaliation under federal Title VII. He, however, had a substantial problem: a Title VII discrimination or retaliation claim requires an employer-employee relationship, and the guard’s case had not substantiated that such a relationship existed.

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A recent commercial for Apple’s iPhone touts the device’s ability to keep your private information private. The commercial points to an ever-increasing concern in today’s world. We all know that we have personal information stored in a variety of places and, in some of those, we’re not the one in control of the flow of that content. Sometimes, the concern is the exposure of information that could be personally or professionally damaging to you. When the one doing that disclosing is your employer and the reason they’re doing it is a retaliatory one, then you may be entitled to sue and obtain compensation under the newly amended New York State Human Rights Law. A knowledgeable New York City workplace retaliation attorney can help show you how to accomplish this.

Earlier this year, the New York legislature passed S.5870/A.7101, and Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it into law. The bill amended Section 296 of the New York State Human Rights Law to expand the definition of what can constitute actionable retaliation. The new definition says that retaliation “may include… disclosing an employee’s personnel files because he or she has opposed any practices forbidden under this article or because he or she has filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding under this article…”

In other words, if you were engaged in a protected activity and your employer, in an attempt to harm you, disclosed some or all of your personnel file, then that’s against the law now. The range of protected activities can be anything from, say, testifying in a coworker’s age discrimination case to filing your own formal sexual harassment claim to complaining to your supervisor about race discrimination in your work area to assisting a colleague in their sexual orientation discrimination case. These are just a few examples.

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Today, many employers deal with employee performance and behavioral issues through a system known as “progressive discipline,” which means using a set of graduated or progressively more serious responses to an employee who is not meeting expectations. If you’ve been the target of illegal discrimination or retaliation, your employer’s progressive discipline system may potentially be a way to strengthen your case. If your employer skipped steps or otherwise failed to follow the standard procedure in dealing with you, then those “irregularities” can be a key piece of evidence demonstrating that you were the target of discrimination or retaliation. To find out how this might apply to your case, get answers from an experienced New York employment retaliation lawyer.

An upstate woman’s retaliation case shows pretty clearly how this can work. The woman, L.B., worked in the business office at a Syracuse hospital. In 2016, her doctors diagnosed her with cancer.

On May 4, 2017, the business office director informed L.B. and three peers that the hospital was eliminating their titles but not their positions. The other three workers were given new assignments immediately, while the director told L.B. that her job “was still in ‘formulation.'” Of the three peers who received immediate assignments, all three were younger than L.B. (who was in her early 60s) and all three were non-disabled.

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New York City is undeniably one of the primary centers of high fashion. Amidst the glamour and beauty is an uglier side, which is the sexual harassment and abuse that many workers in the industry endure. Many harassment victims are young and relatively naïve and inexperienced, while their harassers are wealthy, powerful, and very well-connected, making not just sexual harassment but also retaliation for opposing harassment ever-present risks. However, with an experienced New York City sexual harassment lawyer advocating for you, you have the potential to fight back, win, and hold your harasser accountable.

Sexual harassment and misconduct in the fashion industry have again been in the headlines recently. The spark for one recent round of stories of sexual misconduct was a Summer 2021 lawsuit filed here in New York. The plaintiff was model and actress Carré Sutton, who was known as Carré Otis in her earlier modeling days.

The woman’s lawsuit asserted that, Gerald Marie, the European head of the modeling agency that employed her sexually assaulted and raped her on repeated occasions. The agency head also allegedly trafficked her to other wealthy, powerful men, including an unnamed Italian billionaire, according to a New York Post report.

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Most people, when they contemplate workplace retaliation, picture a worker who is demoted or fired for having filed a discrimination or sexual harassment lawsuit (or EEO claim.) Retaliation in the workplace can take many forms beyond just that, though. If you believe you’ve been punished at work because you stood up for yourself (or others) in opposition to illegal practices in the workplace, you ought to get in touch with a knowledgeable New York employment lawyer right away.

One of the more hotly debated topics within employment law is mandatory arbitration agreements or, more specifically, the interconnection of mandatory arbitration agreements and claims of discrimination. New York State law says that such agreements are void and unenforceable in that context, but that law has experienced a rocky road in court across the last three years. At least two different federal judges in New York have ruled that federal law preempts CPLR Section 7515, allowing the employer to transition the case from court to arbitration.

Sometimes, though, the significance of your mandatory arbitration agreement goes beyond the procedural question of where your case will be litigated and into the question of whether the initiation of the agreement itself was a punitive act done in retalaition. That was the case for M.C., a woman who was the head of recruiting at a New York City financial technology firm.

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