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NY Subway Clerk Layoffs Were Legitimate, Appeals Court Says

An appeals court has ruled that the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority didn’t have to hold public hearings before it laid off more than 200 subway booth clerks last year, a reversal of a Supreme Court decision, Thomson Reuters reports.

Issues of labor law in New York have always been important, but with the economy sagging, they take on extreme importance these days.Issues of discrimination in the workplace have no place in this country. Yet, it happens. As we reported in August, unemployment discrimination in New York is prevalent, despite efforts to stop this unfair practice.

The New York Times found in August that many job advertisements were targeting only those people who were already employed. If a person was unemployed, he or she was not welcome to apply. Can you imagine that actually happens? Fortunately, a law is now in effect that bans unemployment discrimination. And both state and federal laws prohibit hiring and firing practices based on age, gender, sexual orientation, race, national origin, disability and other unlawful factors.

The subway clerk issue was based on a rule issue, not a discrimination issue. According to the Transit Workers Union, which represents MTA workers, the staff reductions couldn’t go through without an opportunity for public comment since the agency decided to offer mass layoffs rather than cut down staff through attrition.

But an appeals court recently ruled that because public hearings were held on closing customer service kiosks, the different method of downsizing wasn’t a big enough issue to require a new hearing.

Some of the laid-off workers were re-hired for other positions, though the overall number of workers is still down. The ruling may be appealed to the state Court of Appeals, a lawyer for the union told Thomson Reuters.

MTA has eliminated clerks in subway stations starting in 2008, instead relying on electronic vending machines. Overnight service, bus and subway lines have been slashed and administrative staff has been laid off as well.

Given the long history of unions in New York and the reliance on laws and rules put in place to protect employees, many of these labor law issues can be complex. This situation wasn’t simply a matter of employees being laid off, but whether the layoffs worked within the rules and laws in place.

These complex legal matters dealing with employment must be addressed. Without legal representation, problems can linger on for generations without resolution. There always must be a person who is willing to step up and take action. If rules are broken or laws violated in a workplace setting, a watchdog or whistle-blower cannot sit back and watch the injustices happen without consequence.

In New York employment law issues, this is critical. A person’s job is important not only for income, but for his or her well-being. People are typically at work more than at home, so working in a bad environment can be devastating. These issues must be addressed.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment discrimination legal counsel in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

More Blog Entries:

Texas Roadhouse Sued By Feds For Alleged Age Discrimination on Long Island, Nationwide: October 12, 2011
Unemployment Discrimination Prevalent, Newspaper Reports: August 9, 2011
Additional Resources:

Subway clerk layoffs were legitimate: NY appeals court, by Joseph Ax, Thomson Reuters