Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Governor Cuomo

Employer Defense Against Sexual Harassment Claims Sexual harassment accusations against Governor Cuomo began with one allegation. Subsequently, a second aide added her own allegation to the first, and now a third woman has come forward with her own story alleging sexual harassment against the governor. Legal Proceedings to Address the Case Governor Cuomo formally referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office, which would enable an investigation with subpoena power. He stated that he wanted a thorough and independent review that was above reproach and political interference. For this reason, he requested a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of the sexual harassment allegations. New York’s Recently Passed Sexual Harassment Law As a result of the New York sexual harassment law passed in 2019, the federal standard of “severe or pervasive” no longer applies when bringing a sexual harassment claim. Previously, the plaintiff had to prove that the sexual harassment was severe. Or, the plaintiff had to prove that the harassment took place over an extended period of time, making it pervasive. An article published by the American Bar Association explains the nuances of the recent law. Under the recent law, sexual harassment examples would include unwelcome sexual advances, sexually motivated physical contact, requests for sexual favors or other physical or verbal conduct or communication that was sexually motivated. It the conduct interferes with work performance or creates an offensive work environment, then it also would be sexual harassment. A single instance might be sufficient to rise to the level of sexual harassment. Affirmative Defense Against Sexual Harassment Allegations To avoid liability for sexual harassment, a defense...

Religious Discrimination and Undue Hardship

Religious discrimination in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Employers must, for the most part, accommodate employees concerning their religious practices in regards to the following: Flexible scheduling Voluntary shift swaps or substitutions Job reassignments Modifications to workplace policies or practices If a worker has to take day off for religious observance, the employer should make accommodations. Certain dress codes or grooming policies may need to be relaxed for wearing a Jewish yarmulke or Muslim headscarf, or for beards and long hair (Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh). Undue Hardship The exception to accommodating religious beliefs or practices is when accommodation would cause undue hardship for the employer. Examples include: High cost to the employer Workplace safety being compromised Reduced workplace efficiency Infringing on the rights of other employees Requiring other employees to do more than their share of hazardous or burdensome work Recent Case the EEOC Brought Based on Religious Discrimination The EEOC  filed a lawsuit in August against Century Park Associates, LLC. The company operates senior and assisted living communities in 20 different states, but the facility named in the lawsuit was located in Tennessee. The EEOC alleged that by demanding two employees work on the Sabbath, the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Two employees, who were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. The company was implementing a new work schedule and insisted that the employees work on Saturdays. When the employees refused, based on religious practices, the company asked them to resign. They resigned and then asked for reinstatement by...

NYC New Job Salary History Law: Keeping Your Hiring Practices Legal

A New York City job salary history law was recently passed, which goes into effect in October 2017. Business owners should be aware of this fact and ensure they keep their hiring practices in lockstep with the new change. CNN Money  reported that employers no longer are allowed to ask prospective job candidates about their previous salaries. According to Mayor De Blasio, the law hopes to lessen the gender pay gap that exists in salaries. At the signing ceremony, the mayor said, “This is about fixing a broken history. This is about overcoming years and years of discrimination that held people back.” Why Job Salary History Questions Tend to Promote Unequal Pay When a business bases its pay on previous salary history and the history is already unequal pay, it simply perpetuates the inequality. This change speaks to the U.S. Census fact that in 2015, for every dollar men earned, women in comparable positions earned 79.6 cents. What Changes Will Employers Have to Make? They must eliminate any questions on job applications that ask about previous salary. They must train hiring managers to refrain from asking about job salary history and refocus the hiring interview on salary expectations instead. To keep the hiring practice uniform, it’s possible that New York companies with offices in other cities may incorporate the change there as well. New York Is Not Alone in This Change According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over 20 other states are also considering passing similar laws that would prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s pay history. At a federal level, The Paycheck Fairness Act is...

Wal-Mart’s Alleged Pregnancy Discrimination Makes the Headlines

  A proposed lawsuit against Wal-Mart is a class action that claims the company has discriminated against pregnant workers by denying requests to restrict heavy lifting, making them climb on ladders and making them do other potentially harmful tasks. Details about the Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit According to Reuters two claimants, Otisha Woolbright and Talisha Borders, filed the lawsuit in a federal court in Illinois. The class would include 20,000 women and before the company’s policy changed, an estimated 50,000 women. The lawsuit is based on the American Disabilities Act (ADA), and the argument is that Wal-Mart did not extend the same accommodations to pregnant women as it did to other disabled workers. In 2014, Wal-Mart changed its company policy and began treating pregnancy as a disability. A Wal-Mart spokesman stated that Wal-Mart has always abided by federal law and addressed pregnancy as a protected class. In a U.S. Supreme Court 2015 decision that involved the United Parcel Service, the court ruled that employers must treat pregnant women the same as other workers with disabilities or medical conditions. The claimants’ lawyers’ argue that the Wal-Mart policy did not adequately address the issue. Case Details about the Claimants Otisha Woolbright claimed when she worked in a Florida Wal-Mart, her manager told her that pregnancy was not an excuse to get out of doing heavy lifting. She claims that after she injured herself living trays that weighed as much as 50 pounds and after she asked further about the company’s pregnancy policies, the store fired her. Tallish Borders worked at an Illinois Wal-Mart. She claims she was reprimanded for having...

New Right to Work Law Passed in Missouri

When Missouri’s current governor campaigned for office, he promised to push through a right to work law. He just signed the bill into law, making Missouri the 28th state to have a right to work law. The National Law Review recently published an article that outlined the provisions of Missouri’s new law. What Is a Right to Work Law? Right to work laws enable employees who do not want to join a union to work at a unionized company without having to pay monthly union dues. Currently, in states that do not have right to work laws, workers in unionized companies must pay union dues even if they do not join the union. The reasoning behind this is that all employees reap the benefits from the bargaining agreements negotiated for compensation and other perks. Therefore, they should help pay for the work being done by unions. Does New York Have a Right to Work Law? No, New York is one of the 22 states that do not have right to work laws. Companies are not allowed to discriminate against non-union workers or deny job applicants employment if the employee does not want to join the union. However, employers can require such employees pay union dues. Federal Laws Governing Unions Federal law established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the NLRB has the authority to enact rules and procedures for unions and businesses. NLRB rules affect activities such as entering into collective bargaining and other attempts to break up unions. If you are an employer and have questions about unions and employee’s rights, it is important to seek legal...

NY Sex Discrimination and Harassment Claim Defense Attorney

Con Edison Agrees to Pay $3.8 Million in NY Sex Discrimination and Harassment Claim New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on September 9, 2015 that they reached a joint settlement with Con Edison on sex discrimination and sexual harassment charges brought by a class of women against the company. A class of up to 300 female blue-color workers alleged that Con Edison allowed retaliation and engaged in the following discriminatory actions: Sub-par on-the-job-training for women compared with male peers Made to do menial, “make-work” tasks and isolated by male workers in group work settings Refused or stonewalled when females sought admission to educational classes necessary for promotions Not provided tools or safety gear in situations where men received them Denied adequate and sanitary private restroom, shower and changing facilities Subjected to excessive discipline unlike male workers engaged in comparable conduct Given fewer positive performance evaluations than males for doing comparable work Denied overtime assignments despite eligibility under collective bargaining agreements In addition to having to pay the class of women $3.8 million, Con Edison has to retain an independent consultant for settlement compliance evaluation along with an independent equal employment opportunity specialist to develop and conduct employee training. The company must also improve its policies and protocols for investigating harassment and discrimination complaints. In addition, the company’s field supervisors must receive training that emphasizes prohibiting sexual harassment and sex discrimination. If your company has disputes with employees over discrimination, it is vital that you seek legal help as soon as possible. Stephen Hans & Associates has successfully defended employers’...