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Earlier this year, a New York appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York gender discrimination case brought by a woman who claims to have been fired because she made her boss’ wife jealous. The case presented the appellate court with a unique opportunity to discuss whether the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to state a cause of action under the New York anti-discrimination statutes. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Yoga InstructorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an employee at a New York City wellness center that provides massage therapy services as well as yoga classes. The owners of the center, a husband and wife, both had managerial roles in the company, with the husband being the plaintiff’s direct supervisor.

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff’s relationship with the husband was “purely professional,” and he seemed happy with her work. However, at some point, the husband told the plaintiff that his wife might become jealous of her because she was “too cute.”

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court ruled in an employment law case involving a military service member who claimed he received a lower signing bonus than he was entitled to receive upon his return from deployment. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss two employment law concepts that are important to those considering a New York employment discrimination case.

Fighter JetThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an employee of FedEx, and he was also a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves. The plaintiff was enrolled in a training program to become a first officer, which would make him a pay grade MD-11. However, prior to beginning the program, he was mobilized for active duty in the U.S. Air Force. The plaintiff returned to work about three months later.

While the plaintiff was away, FedEx had implemented a signing bonus program for eligible employees. The bonus was for either $7,400 or $17,700, depending on the employee’s pay grade. The plaintiff was provided a $7,400 bonus because, at the time, he had not obtained his MD-11 grade. Had he been an MD-11, he would have received a $17,700 bonus.

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Earlier this month, one mayoral candidate told reporters that she hopes to tighten school rules and regulations, resulting in administrators’ ability to more easily suspend students as young as five years old. According to the report, the lawmaker stated that the focus of suspensions should not be on students who acted “nasty or disrespectful to another student” but those who were “disruptive to the classroom and learning environment.”

ClassroomThe proposed plan is a big step back from Mayor DeBlasio’s announcement earlier this year that the administration would eschew suspension proceedings for children in second grade and below. Prior to that decision, there were over 800 suspensions for children in second grade and below in the 2016 school year. In the school year before that, almost 1,500 children of the same age group were suspended.

New York City School Suspensions

School suspensions are serious. Indeed, New York City school suspensions can have a major detrimental effect on a student’s ability to learn, socialize, and participate in productive school programs. Suspensions can also have a negative impact on a student’s ability to get into college. In addition, repeated school suspensions come with an attached stigma that a student is a “bad kid,” potentially resulting in exacerbation of negative behaviors.

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Earlier this month, a New York City landlord with over 4,500 rental units was named in a New York discrimination lawsuit alleging that the landlord illegally discriminated against prospective tenants. According to a local news report, the landlord was engaging in “extensive and systematic” discrimination based on the race and family size of applicants.

NYC SkylineThe report discusses the findings of an investigation conducted by a New York non-profit organization that focuses on fair housing initiatives. The organization used volunteers to pretend that they were interested in renting an apartment from the landlord. Both white and black applicants were used. The white applicants reported ample vacancy and median rents around $1,450. However, the black applicants were treated differently, often being told that there was no vacancy in the building, and when a room was made available to rent, it was at the higher median price of around $1,575.

The landlord was also accused of turning down applicants who were using public assistance and also requiring families with young children to undergo extensive lead-testing. The article notes that the landlord agency was named in a lawsuit making similar claims 25 years ago, which settled out of court through a consent decree.

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Paid family leave (PFL) has been becoming more and more popular across the United States, with many employers voluntarily offering PFL programs. In a more recent development, some states are now beginning to require employers to offer PFL in some form. Beginning on January 1, 2018, many New York employers will be required to offer paid family leave (PFL) to certain employees. A New York employment lawyer can explain your rights and obligations under this program.

CalendarWhich Employees Are Entitled to PFL?

Almost all employers will be required to provide PFL, and most employees will be eligible for PFL. For employees who work upwards of 20 hours per week, PFL must be made available to them after having worked at their current position for 26 weeks. Part-time employees who work less than 20 hours per week must first log 175 days of work before becoming eligible. Notably, even New York employees who work for out-of-state companies are eligible for PFL.

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Earlier this month, the state’s high court issued a written opinion in a New York civil rights case involving the rights of mentally competent, terminally ill patients to seek prescription medication to end their life. Ultimately, the court distinguished between the existing right to withdraw or refuse medical treatment and the plaintiff’s asserted right to affirmatively seek out life-ending medication.

Doctor's CoatThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the case included three terminally ill patients who wished to end their lives by obtaining a lawful prescription to do so. The plaintiffs also included several physicians who, but for the criminal prohibition of “assisted suicide,” would have prescribed the terminally ill plaintiffs a prescription to end their life.

The case was filed against the New York Attorney General and sought a declaratory judgment clarifying that a physician who wrote a prescription for a life-ending drug would not be prosecuted. Presumably, if the plaintiffs won the lawsuit, and the prohibition against prescribing life-ending medication was lifted, the physician plaintiffs would then be legally permitted to assist in the deaths of the terminally ill patients.

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Workers in New York have a right to be paid fairly, not only according to minimum wage and overtime laws, but also in accordance with their employment contracts and agreements. Failure to abide by these agreements is a form of wage theft, and companies will be ordered to pay for engaging in such tactics.
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A recent high-profile wage theft case in New York involves a pizza shop franchisee with five shops in Harlem. The New York County Supreme Court has ordered the business to reimburse its delivery workers more than $2 million for unpaid wages, expenses that weren’t reimbursed, various damages and interest.

The lawsuit was filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last October. It is the latest in a string of judgments against franchise owners of the same restaurant.
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After suffering a sexual assault in a Stony Brook University dorm room, she suffered flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares.
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Still, she pushed forward in pursing the case through the university’s internal disciplinary procedures. She expected the experience would be difficult and trying. She did not anticipate being forced to prosecute her rapist on her own, despite having zero legal training.

The process reportedly required her to question the alleged attacker on the witness stand, and to also be subjected to cross-examination directly from him.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed against the university for violation of Title IX. This is a federal statute that bars gender discrimination at institutions of higher education that rely on money from the U.S. government. The law also encompasses claims of sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment.
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New York has always been in-demand as far as real estate goes, but when property prices started to soar a few years ago, the rush to build new structures to meet the rising demand was feverish. chrysler.jpg

The problem, however, is that it now appears many of those jobs weren’t done correctly. In what appears to be a repeat of the last housing boom, it seems many construction companies were more concerned with meeting deadlines and cranking out more buildings, as opposed to ensuring they were erecting a quality product.

Among the growing number of complaints:

  • Balconies that are cracking;
  • Concrete flaking from the exterior walls;
  • Basements prone to flooding due to inadequate drainage-sewage connections;
  • Inadequate insulation;
  • Water filtration problems;
  • Malfunctioning elevators.

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Every worker has a right to expect their employer will pay them fair wages for work in accordance not only with the employment contract or agreement, but, at bare minimum, in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
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Unfortunately, this all too often does not happen. In these instances, when employers refuse to acknowledge the discrepancy, provide back-pay, correct error, or when they engage in retaliatory action as a result of reporting the violation, workers can and should seek remedy in the form of a wage-and-hour lawsuit.

However, when a judgment is secured, sometimes workers may have a tough time collecting. Now, a coalition of labor advocates and public interest legal groups are calling on state and federal lawmakers to make changes in state law that would pave the way for easier collection of stolen wages and other damages.
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