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In employment discrimination cases in New York, a plaintiff will often allege that an employer treated the plaintiff differently than other employees in similar situations or positions. In such instances, evidence of such unequal treatment is critical to proving an employer’s liability. Employers may be reluctant to share certain documents and records, however, and may argue that they are either irrelevant or privileged. A plaintiff’s right to obtain materials necessary to the prosecution of a case were discussed in an opinion recently delivered by a New York court, in which an employer objected to the employee’s discovery requests seeking employment records. If you are the victim of discrimination in the workplace, it is advisable to meet with a trusted New York employment harassment attorney to assess what evidence you may need to prove liability.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations and Discovery Requests

Reportedly, the plaintiff was employed by the defendant as a safety manager on a project involving the renovation of a train station. The plaintiff was terminated approximately two months after she was hired. The defendant cited habitual lateness and other issues pertaining to the plaintiff’s performance as the reason she was terminated. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that her supervisor sexually harassed her throughout the course of her employment, and her rejection of his advances was the actual reason for her termination.

Allegedly, during the course of litigation, the plaintiff sent the defendant discovery requests, seeking documents regarding other employees who had engaged in or been terminated for engaging in the same conduct that the defendant alleged led to the plaintiff’s firing. The defendant opposed the requests, and the plaintiff filed a motion to compel. The court granted the motion in part, only ordering the defendant to produce information regarding other employees who were terminated for the same reason as the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed.

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Many employment discrimination cases involve delicate issues that require the disclosure of highly sensitive and sometimes offensive information. Despite this, the courts tend to favor that cases remain open. That is, a court will generally allow the pleadings in a case to remain accessible to the public in most instances, and a party that seeks to have a case sealed faces a high burden. The grounds for sealing a case were analyzed in a recent opinion set forth by a New York court in a sexual harassment case. If you were the victim of harassment in the workplace, you may be able to seek damages and should speak to a skillful New York sexual harassment attorney promptly to discuss your rights.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant employer and supervisor, setting forth claims of sex discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment under both federal and state law. The case was resolved expeditiously, in that a settlement was reached before the defendants made an appearance in the case. Thus, the case information mostly consisted of the docket sheet and the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff nonetheless filed a  motion to seal the case. The defendants consented to the motion, but the court ultimately denied the plaintiff’s request regardless.

Grounds for Sealing a Sexual Harassment Case

The court explained that the press and the public have a qualified right under the First Amendment to access certain judicial documents, including complaints and docket sheets. Although judicial documents may be sealed if such protections are demanded by higher values, such restriction require specific findings, on the record, that such closures are necessary to preserve higher values and that the closure is narrowly tailored to serve that interest. As such, sealing an entire case file is a last resort.

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In any employment discrimination case in New York, the plaintiff must not only demonstrate that the employer engaged in discriminatory practices but also that such behavior adversely impacted the plaintiff’s employment. Many acts may constitute an adverse action, including actual and constructive termination. Recently, a New York court discussed what constitutes constructive discharge in a case in which the plaintiff alleged he had to stop working because of sexual harassment. If you needed to stop working because of harassment in the workplace, you should meet with a seasoned New York sexual harassment attorney to assess whether you may be able to pursue a claim for damages.

The Alleged Harassment

Reportedly, the plaintiff was employed by the defendant as a car inspector from 2006 through 2017. He was diagnosed with numerous psychiatric disorders, for which he took medication. He began experiencing taunts from his coworkers in 2009 when they learned their supervisor preferred the plaintiff to other workers. In 2016, a coworker made a sexual comment to the plaintiff, which the plaintiff reported. Later that year, the same coworker placed a note expressing sexual thoughts inside of the plaintiff’s pocket, which the plaintiff reported as well.

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s coworkers then began teasing him about his mental health issues. Plaintiff submitted a complaint and then took a vacation. After he returned from vacation, he quit. He ultimately filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that he was subjected to a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment and discrimination because of his mental illness. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment.

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Under both state and federal law, employers have to pay employees the minimum wage defined by statute and must pay eligible employees overtime, and employers that fail to do so may be held civilly liable. While many wage and hour claims must be resolved via trial, in cases in which an employer’s violations are clear, an employee may be able to obtain summary judgment on the question of liability. This was illustrated in a recent New York case in which the court found that the employer was liable for wage violations as a matter of law, and therefore a trial on the issue was not necessary. If you believe your employer failed to pay you appropriate wages in violation of wage laws, you should meet with a dedicated New York wage and hour attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Employment History

It is alleged that from August 2003 through August 2018, the plaintiff worked as a sales-clerk for the defendant corporation which sold wholesale beauty products. The plaintiff did not have administrative or executive duties. He did not receive a notice from the defendant regarding his pay when he started and never completed any paperwork. He was paid a set amount every two weeks, regardless of how many hours he worked. He received his pay in cash and in a paycheck, but his paystubs did not reflect the cash amounts. Throughout the course of his employment, he worked fifty-seven hours each week. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant’s practices violated the New York Labor Law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act. After discovery ended, the plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability.

Proving an Employer Failed to Pay Minimum Wage and Overtime Compensation

Under the New York Labor Law, every employer that has ten or fewer employees must pay each of its employees the minimum wage set forth by the statute for each hour worked in New York City. In assessing whether an employer committed a minimum wage violation, a court will consider the average hourly wage of the employee, which is calculated by dividing the total pay an employee received in a workweek by the total number of hours worked during that week.

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It is clear that under New York law, a plaintiff alleging gender-based discrimination must set forth evidence sufficient to prove such claims. In many instances, the evidence will be purely circumstantial and may include the plaintiff’s own testimony. As discussed in a recent gender discrimination case, while a plaintiff’s testimony may be sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff who previously denied an essential fact cannot simply provide new contradictory testimony in an effort to avoid dismissal. If you were the victim of discrimination in the workplace, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted New York employment discrimination attorney to determine what you must prove to recover compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for the defendant human rights commission. At some point, she interviewed with the chair of the commission for the position of executive director. She was passed over for the position and faced other adverse effects at work, after which she filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging numerous gender-based discrimination claims. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff appealed, arguing in part, that the court erred in dismissing her claim that she was denied a promotion based on her gender.

The Impact of Contradictory Testimony in Employment Discrimination Cases

Upon review, the court assumed that for purposes of its analysis that the plaintiff had set forth a prima facie case of employment discrimination based on her failure to receive a promotion, and that the defendant had set forth a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for denying the motion. The court found, however, that the plaintiff had not produced any evidence that would support the inference that the defendant’s reasons for promoting another employee over the plaintiff were mere pretext.

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In many instances, an employer that fails to abide by the law with regard to employee wages will not only shortchange one employee but will engage in a practice of underpaying staff members. Thus, in many cases, aggrieved employees may be able to file a class-action lawsuit against the employer, seeking damages for wage and hour violations. Simply because an employer failed to pay appropriate wages to more than one employee does not mean a basis exists to pursue a class action case, though. Rather, as discussed in a recent New York case, the plaintiff must prove certain elements before a court will grant class certification. If you were not paid the wages you are owed from your employer, you should speak to an assertive New York wage and hour violation attorney to determine whether you and other employees may be owed compensation.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the named plaintiffs were employed as food runners and as a sommelier with the defendant restaurant. They frequently worked in excess of forty hours per week and worked a spread of ten or more hours, for which they were not paid a spread of hours premium, and were required to perform non-tipped side work despite the fact that a tip credit was taken from their wages. The plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against the defendant, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The plaintiffs then filed a motion to certify the class.

Certification of a Class in a Wage and Hour Violation Case

The court explained that class certification in federal cases is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). Specifically, FRCP 25(a) requires that the party seeking certification demonstrate typicality, commonality, numerosity, and adequacy of representation. A plaintiff seeking class certification must also meet one of the requirements of FRCP 25(b) as well. In the subject case, the plaintiffs sought certification pursuant to FRCP 25(b)(3), which required them to show that question of fact or law common to all of the class members predominates over issues that affect individual members.

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People living with disabilities have the right to enjoy gainful employment, free from discrimination based on their illnesses or conditions. Thus, if an employer treats an employee adversely because of the employee’s disability, it may constitute grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit. Merely because an employer terminates an employee suffering from a disability does not mean that discrimination has occurred, however, as demonstrated in a recent New York case in which the court discussed the elements of a disability discrimination claim. If you have a disability and you believe your employer is engaging in discriminatory practices because of your disability, it is advisable to confer with a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss whether you may be owed damages.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who has multiple sclerosis, was employed by the defendant as a managing agent for a cooperative. Plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) against the defendant in 2012, complaining of numerous employment actions against her on the basis of her disability and gender. She was then advised she had ninety days to file an employment discrimination lawsuit but did not.

Allegedly, following an audit in which certain employees were reclassified from exempt to non-exempt, the plaintiff was responsible for the overpayment to such employees in an amount in excess of ninety thousand dollars. She was subsequently fired. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging employment discrimination on the basis of her disability and gender. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted.

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Employment discrimination claims, like most other claims, are subject to a statute of limitations. In other words, they must be filed within the time prescribed under the law, or a person risks waiving the right to recover damages. There are some exceptions that will allow a plaintiff to file a lawsuit outside of the strict time constraints, though, such as in cases involving continuing violations. Recently, a New York court discussed what behavior may constitute a continuing violation in an employment discrimination case, thereby allowing a plaintiff to pursue claims at a later date. If you were subject to discrimination in the workplace, you may be owed damages, and it is important to seek the counsel of a trusted New York employment discrimination attorney promptly to avoid losing the right to pursue compensation.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed as a correctional officer for the defendant city. He alleges that during his employment, he was targeted and singled out because of his race, and ultimately terminated. As such, he filed a lawsuit against the defendant city and several of its employees, asserting claims of discrimination based on race in violation of Title VII and the New York State and City Human Rights laws, as well as claims of a hostile work environment and wrongful termination. The defendants filed motions to dismiss, arguing in part that some of the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff objected to the motions, arguing that the harm alleged constituted continuing violations.

Claims of Continuing Employment Discrimination

Plaintiff’s complaint alleged retaliation and discrimination in violation of Title VII. Pursuant to the existing law, such claims must be filed within three hundred days of the alleged unlawful behavior. An exception exists, however, for acts that constitute a continuing violation. In other words, for claims arising out of behavior that was part of a continued practice and policy of engaging in discriminatory behavior, which may be present in cases involving discriminatory mechanisms or specific practices.

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People who work in New York are protected against discrimination in the workplace by numerous laws. As such, employees that are subject to unfair treatment based on their inclusion in a protected class may be able to recover damages from their employers. It is important to note, however, that the aggrieved party will typically only get one shot at proving liability, as demonstrated in a recent New York case in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s employment discrimination case based on a prior ruling against the plaintiff. If you were treated adversely at work due to your ethnicity, race, or any other protected class, it is critical to retain an assertive New York employment discrimination attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a field worker. In June 2018, he had an argument with a co-worker and did not return to work for two days. When he eventually went back to the workplace, he was terminated by his supervisor. The plaintiff was a member of a union who intervened on behalf of the plaintiff. Thus, the plaintiff entered into a final chance stipulation wherein he agreed to attend an alcohol treatment program, during which his employment would be suspended for three months. After completion of the program, he could return to work. He failed to return to work, however, and he was terminated.

Allegedly, the plaintiff then filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights (the Division), averring that the defendant violated the State Human Rights Law by discriminating against him based on his ethnicity and disabilities related to his alcoholism. The Division determined that the plaintiff’s employment ended because he failed to abide by the final chance stipulation and that the plaintiff failed to produce evidence of discrimination or show that the reason for his termination was pretextual. The plaintiff then filed similar claims in state court, alleging discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law (the NYCHRL). The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint based on the doctrine of election of remedies and collateral estoppel. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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It goes without saying that for a person to maintain an employment discrimination claim, he or she must demonstrate the existence of an employment relationship. While typically, it is abundantly clear whether a person works for an entity, in some instances, a defendant may dispute whether it employs an individual. This was shown in a recent New York case of employment discrimination in which a corporate entity denied that it employed the plaintiff, who worked at a franchise of the entity. If you were discriminated against at work, you might be able to seek damages from your employer and should consult a skillful New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss the potential merits of your claim.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked at a franchise of a fast-food chain that was owned by the defendant franchisee pursuant to an agreement with the defendant corporation. The plaintiff learned from a coworker that the defendant franchisee’s manager stated that he would not have hired the plaintiff if he knew she was pregnant. He then made the same statement to the plaintiff and sent the plaintiff a text message later that day, stating that she was fired because she was pregnant. The plaintiff filed employment discrimination against the defendants, alleging she was discriminated against based on her gender and pregnancy. The defendant corporation filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was not the plaintiff’s employer or a joint employer.

Demonstrating an Employer-Employee Relationship

Under the joint employer doctrine, when a person is employed by one entity, liability can be imposed on a second entity based on a relationship between the two companies. Parties will be considered joint employers if they are legally separate parties that jointly handle specific aspects of their employer-employee relationship. In determining whether a joint employer relationship exists, a court will look at whether a party exercised immediate control over another party’s employees. In the subject case, the court found that it could not state that, as a matter of law, there was no joint employer relationship.

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