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It is not uncommon for an employer to ask an employee to sign a contract at the onset of a job that defines the terms of employment. It is critical for employees to thoroughly review any contract they are presented with, however, as in some instances, the contract may require an employee to waive certain rights. This was demonstrated in a recent employment discrimination case filed in New York, in which the court ordered the parties to proceed to arbitration based upon the terms of the plaintiffs’ employment contracts. If you suffered discrimination in the workplace, it is prudent to confer with a diligent New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your rights and your potential avenues for seeking damages.

Factual History

It is reported that both plaintiffs signed employment contracts when they were hired by the defendant, a media company. The contracts included provisions that stated that any alleged violation of federal or state laws that could not be resolved informally would be resolved via arbitration. Ultimately, the plaintiffs filed a joint lawsuit against the defendant, setting forth claims of discrimination on the basis of color, race, and gender. The defendant then filed a motion to stay the lawsuit and to compel the plaintiffs to proceed to arbitration pursuant to the terms of the employment contract.

Determining Whether to Compel Arbitration of Employment Discrimination Claims

Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), an agreement to arbitrate is irrevocable, valid, and enforceable. As such, the FAA allows a party wronged by the failure to arbitrate an issue pursuant to a written agreement to petition a court for an order directing arbitration to proceed in the manner set forth in the agreement. A party will be deemed to refuse to arbitrate pursuant to the FAA if the party files a lawsuit in a state or federal court.

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Many people in the workforce are older and, unfortunately, discriminated against due to their age. Age discrimination is unlawful, and people who suffer adverse employment effects due to age discrimination may be able to recover damages in a civil lawsuit. Recently, a New York court discussed a plaintiff’s burden of proof in an age discrimination case, in an action in which the plaintiff’s claims were ultimately dismissed. If you were the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, it is advisable to speak to a skilled New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to be awarded damages.

The Alleged Discrimination

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a real estate executive for the defendant investment group. During his tenure, the defendant CEO allegedly made comments regarding the plaintiff’s age. The plaintiff was eventually terminated, after which he filed an age discrimination claim against the defendants. The defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, which the court granted.

Proving Age Discrimination

Under the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee in terms of compensation, conditions, or terms of employment or to terminate an employee due to the employee’s age. Under the burden-shifting framework of ADEA employment discrimination cases, a plaintiff must set forth facts sufficient to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, after which the defendant must demonstrate that a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason existed for the adverse actions taken against the plaintiff. The plaintiff must then demonstrate that the defendant’s reasons are pretextual, otherwise, the plaintiff’s claim will be dismissed.

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It is not uncommon for ongoing discriminatory acts in the workplace to create a hostile work environment. As such, the law allows for people subject to a hostile work environment to file claims against their employer. Hostile work environment claims must be filed within a certain timeframe, or they will be dismissed, however, as shown in a recent New York case. If you are subject to a hostile work environment because of discrimination, it is prudent to consult a dedicated New York employment discrimination attorney as soon as possible to avoid waiving your right to recover damages.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a pathologist at the defendant cancer research company. For approximately eighteen months, she was subjected to discrimination in pay as compared to her male colleagues, and discrimination in assignments due to the fact that she was a woman and was Chinese. She also experienced verbal abuse that constituted a hostile work environment. After she exhausted her administrative remedies, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging close to twenty different claims against multiple defendants, including numerous hostile work environment claims. The defendants then jointly filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing in part that the plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims should be dismissed as untimely.

Timeliness of a Hostile Work Environment Claim

Under Title VII, a single discriminatory or retaliatory act occurs on the date that it happens. Therefore, a plaintiff must file a claim within either one hundred and eighty days or three hundred days of the date of the act, or the plaintiff will lose the right to recover damages. Regarding hostile work environment claims, the provision of Title VII that requires a plaintiff to file a claim in a timely manner only requires a plaintiff to file a claim within a specific number of days after the unlawful behavior occurred. It does not matter under the statute, however, that some of the acts of the hostile work environment fell outside of the time period under the statute.

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In many instances, when an employer engages in discriminatory acts to the detriment of an employee, the employee is not the sole victim of the employer’s inappropriate behavior but is merely the most recent party to face adverse effects due to the employer’s undertakings. As such, evidence regarding the employer’s prior discriminatory behavior may be helpful to establish that the employer has a practice of engaging in discrimination. In a recent New York employment discrimination case in which the defendant objected to discovery seeking information regarding other claims, the court explained when evidence of similar acts is discoverable. If you were the victim of workplace discrimination, it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination attorney about your rights.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked as a physician assistant at the defendant medical center. He suffered from back pain and cataracts and alleged that despite receiving positive performance reviews, he was treated adversely due to his health issues. He was assigned to move to the interventional radiology department but advised his supervisor that the transfer would negatively affect his health. He was informed, however, that if he did not accept the transfer, he would be seen as quitting. While he met with a human resources manager to discuss the potential transfer and his request for accommodations, he was ultimately terminated.

Reportedly, the plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of disability discrimination. During the discovery phase of the case, the plaintiff sought documents regarding prior complaints or charges of discrimination in any of the defendant’s departments as well as claims against specific employees, and prior requests for accommodations from the interventional radiology department. The defendant objected to the discovery requests and offered to produce documents that solely related to claims against the specific employees.

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When a victim of employment discrimination wishes to seek compensation for their losses via a civil lawsuit, he or she must file any claims within the time constraints set forth under the applicable laws. In certain circumstances, however, a plaintiff’s failure to pursue a claim in a timely manner may be excused, such as when the plaintiff is suffering from a medical condition. Different standards apply in state and federal claims for tolling the statute of limitations due to an illness, though, and a plaintiff that relies on an incorrect standard may waive the right to recover damages, as demonstrated in a recent New York case. If you were harmed due to employment discrimination in New York, it is critical to retain an experienced New York employment discrimination attorney to assist you in pursuing damages.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a doctor at the defendant hospital. She filed a lawsuit in federal court against the defendant, setting forth numerous claims, including disability discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the employment discrimination claims, arguing the claims were barred by the statute of limitations.

Allegedly, the plaintiff argued that she was entitled to equitable tolling of the statute of limitations due to health issues that prevented her from filing the complaint in a timely manner. The court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s state employment discrimination claims. The plaintiff filed a Rule 59(e) motion for reconsideration, arguing that the trial court erred in ruling the statute of limitations should not be tolled.

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When an employee is subject to discrimination in the workplace, it is often actionable under state and federal law. Additionally, if the party engaging in the discriminatory activity is a public employer, it may be considered a violation of the employee’s civil rights. In a recent New York case in which the plaintiff alleged claims of sex discrimination and hostile work environment, the court discussed what a plaintiff alleging civil rights violations in the workplace must prove to recover damages. If you work for a public employer in New York and are subject to discrimination in the workplace, it is advisable to contact a trusted New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for defendant County as a corrections officer. In 2011 the plaintiff took an examination for promotion. Individuals who took the exam were ranked according to score, and those with the highest scores were promoted when positions became available. The scores were valid for four years, but during the four-year period, twenty men and no women received promotions. Thus, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging sex discrimination and a hostile work environment created by the preferential treatment of women who were in relationships with male officers, which created a de facto policy of discrimination for which the County should be held liable. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Sex Discrimination in Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment

A public employee subject to sex discrimination in violation of his or her Fourteenth Amendment rights can pursue claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against his or her employer, which essentially alleges that his or her civil rights were violated under the color of law. Under § 1983, a municipality will only be held liable if the plaintiff’s rights were deprived because of government policy, custom, or usage of the municipality. Municipal liability may be established not only by showing a formal policy but also through a final decision made by a policymaker or where a widespread practice is so settled and permanent that it becomes policy with the force of law. Isolated acts of a non-policymaking person can be grounds for liability as well, if it was done pursuant to municipal policy or if the acts were so widespread, they constituted a policy or custom.

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While typically, the identity of a plaintiff in a lawsuit is known by the defendant in some cases, the court will allow the plaintiff to proceed anonymously, to protect the plaintiff’s rights. For example, plaintiffs are often permitted to proceed anonymously in cases in which there are privacy concerns, but a plaintiff seeking to file a lawsuit anonymously faces a high burden. This was discussed in a recent hostile work environment case in which the court found that the plaintiff failed to establish that she should be permitted to proceed anonymously. If you work in New York and are the victim of a hostile work environment, it is prudent to speak with a seasoned  New York hostile work environment attorney regarding your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who describes herself as a respected entrepreneur in New York and a participant in many non-profit activities, worked for the defendant, a successful investment banker from 2016 through 2018. During her employment, the plaintiff was subject to sexual advances from the defendant, and sexual assault, which created a hostile work environment. Thus, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant, alleging hostile work environment, discrimination, wage violations, and retaliation, and asked the court that she be permitted to proceed anonymously. The defendant did not respond to the motion, but upon review, the court ultimately determined that the plaintiff’s anonymity was not warranted.

Factors Weighed in Determining if a Plaintiff Can Proceed Anonymously

Generally, pursuant to the federal rules of civil procedure, the caption of a lawsuit must name all of the parties, and the use of pseudonyms runs afoul of the public’s right to access to judicial proceedings. Thus, if a plaintiff seeks to proceed anonymously, the court must weigh several factors to determine whether the plaintiff’s privacy concerns outweigh the public policy considerations in favor of open proceedings.

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Similar to protections against double jeopardy, civil law provides defendants protections against having to defend against the same claims more than once. For example, a plaintiff alleging sexual harassment claims against a defendant only has one chance to recover damages under such claims and cannot pursue the claims against the defendant in a different forum following the resolution of the initial claims. This was recently discussed by a federal court in New York, in a case in which the plaintiff filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the defendant following the dismissal of her claims in state court. If you live or work in New York and were subjected to sexual harassment at work, it is critical to retain a New York sexual harassment attorney who will fight to help you recover damages.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff was employed by the defendant school district as a teaching assistant. She stated that during the course of her employment, she was sexually harassed by a co-worker, but when she reported the harassment, the defendant terminated her, rather than address the behavior of her co-worker.  She subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous claims, including claims that her co-worker engaged in sexual harassment, which created a hostile work environment, and a claim that she was subject to retaliation for engaging in whistleblower activities by reporting the harassment. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that res judicata precluded the plaintiff from pursuing claims for sexual harassment and retaliation.

Res Judicata Under New York Law

Under New York law, the doctrine of res judicata precludes a party from litigation in a subsequent action any issues that were actually litigated or could have been litigated in a prior action arising out of the same claims. In other words, a prior decision issued on the merits of a case is binding on all subsequent litigation arising between the parties arising out of the same facts, even if the subsequent action sets forth new theories or seeks different relief, as long as the claims in the second action were or could have been asserted in the first action.

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State and federal wage laws protect many employees from unjust wage practices. For example, employers must pay certain employees overtime for any hours worked in excess of forty hours per week, unless the employees fall under an exemption. While in some cases, it is clear that a plaintiff seeking overtime wages falls under an exemption, in other instances, it is disputed. This was evidenced in a recent case in which a New York appellate court was called upon to rule on whether an assistant basketball coach fell under the federal wage law exemptions. If you believe your employer unjustly denied you overtime, it is in your best interest to consult a New York wage and hour attorney to discuss your rights.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked as the coach of the women’s basketball team for the defendant community college, and as the assistant to the associate dean of physical education and athletics. The plaintiff typically worked thirty-five hours per week as the assistant to the associate dean, and during the basketball season spent thirty-five hours per week coaching as well. As the coach, he was also tasked with recruiting players and overseeing all practices and games. The plaintiff began working in both positions in 2010 but did not receive any overtime pay until 2018, during which he received overtime wages meant to compensate for overtime worked in 2017.

Reportedly, in February 2018, it was alleged that the plaintiff made a loan to a student that violated NCAA rules. The plaintiff was ultimately terminated, after which he filed a lawsuit against the defendant setting forth various claims, including claims that the defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment arguing, in part, that the plaintiff fell under the FLSA overtime exemptions.

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In any employment discrimination case, the plaintiff must establish a nexus between his or her membership in a protected class, and the adverse employment action suffered by the plaintiff. In other words, the plaintiff must show that he or she suffered discrimination due to his or her race, age, gender, or another protected class, and if a plaintiff fails to do so, his or her claim may be dismissed. This was demonstrated in a recent New York case in which the court dismissed the religious discrimination claims of a plaintiff who was not represented by an attorney. If you were discriminated against in the workplace on the basis of your religion, it is advisable to speak with a capable New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss what you must prove to recover compensation.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants, his former employers, alleging several claims, including employment discrimination on the basis of religion. The plaintiff filed his lawsuit without the assistance of an attorney. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Upon review, the court granted the motion.

Sufficient Allegations to Withstand a Motion to Dismiss

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unlawful for an employer to fire, refuse to promote or to discriminate against an employee in any fashion due to the employee’s religion. The court explained that to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint alleging religious discrimination must set forth adequate facts that, if accepted as true, establish a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.

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