Articles Posted in Retaliation

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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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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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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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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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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When you’re pursuing a retaliation case in New York, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Here are a quick three: (1) even if your underlying discrimination (or harassment) claim fails — even at the summary judgment phase — you can still win your retaliation claim, (2) even if your employer has put forward a legitimate basis for the adverse action it took and a viable theory as to why your claim is not legitimate, you can still successfully make out a retaliation claim, and (3) if you believe you were the target of illegal retaliation at work, you need to get in touch with an experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer.

A recent retaliation case from upstate illustrates the points briefly outlined above. The worker, J.D., was a manager working for a chain of auto repair and maintenance stores, overseeing 10-14 stores.

In late 2019, one of the manager’s female subordinates, S.M., informed him that she “had been touched inappropriately by a co-worker” on multiple occasions that day. According to the employer, the manager badly mishandled the investigation into the woman’s complaint, failing to follow company policies and engaging in deceitful behavior.

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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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