A lawsuit filed in a New York state court in Manhattan includes allegations of sexual harassment, but in a rather unusual way. The plaintiff in Hayblum v. Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc., et al., No. 154464/2015, complaint (N.Y. Sup. Ct., N.Y. Co., May 6, 2015), does not claim to have personally been the victim of sexual harassment. Instead, he claims that the defendants unlawfully retaliated against him for reporting alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. The lawsuit asserts causes of action under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).
The defendant produces and operates a medical alert system that enables elderly and disabled users to signal for emergency help at all hours. The company is perhaps best known for its television commercials using the line “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” The plaintiff, according to his complaint, began working for the defendant as a sales representative in its Manhattan office in October 2002. He became a sales manager in April 2006, and he held that position until November 2014.
The plaintiff alleges that he observed “rampant sexual harassment” in the defendant’s Manhattan office. Hayblum, complaint at 8. He claims that the company’s general manager, who was also a director and a vice president, routinely sexually harassed female employees by offering “promotions, perquisites, calls-ins [sic], and leads.” Id. Employees who refused his advances were, the plaintiff claims, denied work opportunities, terminated, or “treated so poorly that they were driven to quit.” Id. The plaintiff’s wife, who also worked for the defendant, was allegedly a “prime target” for harassment. Id.
The plaintiff claims that he confronted the general manager directly about his alleged behavior, but he says his complaints were dismissed or ignored. He also states that he reported his concerns to the company’s California-based CEO on multiple occasions from 2012 to 2014. The CEO, he claims, was also dismissive. At various times beginning in 2011, the plaintiff states that he also expressed concerns about possible wage and hour violations, including misclassification of employees and independent contractors.
On November 10, 2014, according to the complaint, the general manager terminated the plaintiff and told him the CEO supported this action. The plaintiff claims that he received no advance warning, nor did he receive any “substantive explanation of the reasons for his termination.” Id. at 12.
In May 2015, the plaintiff filed suit against the company, the general manager, and the CEO in state court. The plaintiff was 71 years old when he was terminated, and he claims that he had recently notified his employer of a prostate cancer diagnosis. He alleges that these were factors in his termination, and he therefore claims discrimination based on age and disability. With regard to the sexual harassment allegations, he asserts causes of action for unlawful retaliation under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL. N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(7), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(7). He is claiming $7 million in lost wages, front and back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and other damages.
If you have experienced an unlawful employment practice, such as sexual harassment or retaliation, an experienced and knowledgeable sexual harassment attorney can help you fight for your rights. At Phillips & Associates, we advocate for New York City employees and job seekers in claims at the city, state, and federal levels. Contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
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Lawsuit Filed in New York State Court Alleges Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Against Medical Practice, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 22, 2015