LIEB BLOG

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Showing posts with label Discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discrimination. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2022

DC Law Now Requires Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for Tipped Wage Workers

Washington DC now has mandatory sexual harassment trainings from a 2018 law, the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act.


Under the law, covered employers’ primary obligations include providing mandatory sexual harassment training to both business operators & tipped employees.


Other obligations require covered employers to report to the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) both their sexual harassment policy & all harassment complaints made to management from 2020 on. All requirements are set forth in OHR’s fact sheet on employee rights, which must be posted at places of employment. 


OHR has created a portal for employers to report their compliance with the mandates of the Act & employers will be watched - so tread carefully. 


If you were harassed or discriminated against, this law & its trainings are not the end of the story. You have a claim under Title VII & other federal & state laws. Know your rights & act because statutes of limitations, including a filing requirement with EEOC might otherwise curtail your rights. This is serious & damages can be outrageous.  

 



Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Housing Discrimination Based on Source of Income - Notice Required - Regulation Adopted

On 8/17/2022, 9 NYCRR 466.16 was adopted and is the law in NYS - landlords / brokers / property managers be prepared to be sued for source of income discrimination if you don't update your policies and roll out intensive trainings.


This law requires entities administering any public housing program or assistance to provide a detailed notice of rights from source of income discrimination to tenants in compliance with Executive Law 170-e.


The notice must be provided as follows:

  • Current recipients must receive notice within 30 days after the effective date of the regulation;
  • Future recipients must receive notice "upon notification such individual qualifies for the voucher or assistance"; 
  • "In writing, and in 14 point... font";
  • Electronically is permissible by a link to the notice; &
  • On all websites administered by the entity. 


The required notice will look like this:


KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A RECIPIENT OF HOUSING ASSISTANCE


By law, you are protected from housing discrimination.


The New York State Human Rights Law makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing on the basis of your source of income. This includes all forms of housing assistance (like Section 8 vouchers, HUD VASH vouchers, New York City FHEPS and others), as well as all other lawful sources of income including: Federal, state, or local public assistance, social security benefits, child support, alimony or spousal maintenance, foster care subsidies, or any other form of lawful income.


Housing providers who are covered by the Human Rights Law include landlords, property managers, real estate professionals like brokers, tenants seeking to sublet, and anyone working on their behalf.


Housing providers are not allowed to refuse to rent to you because you receive housing assistance. They are also not allowed to charge you higher rent, or offer you worse terms in a lease, or deny you access to facilities or services that other tenants receive.


Housing providers are not allowed to make any statement or advertisement that indicates housing assistance recipients do not qualify for the housing. For example, a housing provider cannot say they do not accept housing vouchers or that they do not participate in a program such as Section 8.


It is lawful for housing providers to ask about income, and about the source of that income, and require documentation, but only in order to determine a person’s ability to pay for the housing accommodation or eligibility for a certain program. A housing provider must accept all lawful sources of income equally. It is unlawful to use any form of screening of applicants that has the intent or result of screening out those receiving housing assistance.


If you believe that you have discriminated against by a housing provider with regard to your lawful source of income, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.


How to File a Complaint

A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act or in court within three years of the alleged discriminatory act. To file a complaint, download a complaint form from www.dhr.ny.gov. For more information or assistance in filing a complaint, contact one of the Division’s offices, or call the Division’s toll-free HOTLINE at 1 (888) 392-3644. Your complaint will be investigated by the Division, and if the Division finds probable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, your case will be sent to a public hearing, or the case may proceed in state court. There is no fee charged to you for these services. Remedies in successful cases may include a cease-and-desist order, provision of housing that was denied, and monetary compensation for the harm you suffered. You can obtain a complaint form on the website, or one can be e-mailed or mailed to you. You can also call or e-mail a Division regional office. The regional offices are listed on the website. 





Thursday, August 11, 2022

Discrimination Cases have Shorter Deadlines When Suing the Government - Here is the Comprehensive List

To bring a claim under the New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law §296, (New York’s Anti-Discrimination Law), you have the following time-limitations:

1.      Suing a Private Party:

a.     An administrative complaint can be brought within 1 year of the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice per Executive Law §297(5).

b.     An administrative complaint for cases of sexual harassment in employment can be brought within 3 years of the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice per Executive Law §297(5).

c.      A court case can be brought within 3 years of the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice per Koerner v. State, 62 NY2d 442 (1984).

2.     Suing the Government: In addition to the rules to sue a private party, when suing the government, you also may have to file a Notice of Claim, within 90 days of the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice, prior to bringing suit. This requirement depends on who you are suing, but never applies to administrative complaints per Freudenthal v. County of Nassau, 99 NY2d 285 (2003), and is reserved only for court cases. Here is the complete list of when a Notice of Claim is required to be filed within 90 days of the discrimination throughout New York State:

a.     Village Government – Notice of Claim, pursuant to CPLR §9801, is likely not required, but no case is directly on point. The applicable statute seems to mirror General Municipal Law §50-i in its limitations and thus would be subject to Margerum v. City of Buffalo, 24 NY3d 721 (2015).

b.      Town Government – Notice of Claim, pursuant to Town Law §67, is required by Arnold v. Town of Camilus, 2021 WL 326886 (NDNY 2021) and Picciano v. Nassau County Civil Service Com'n., 290 AD2d 164 (2nd Dept 2001).

c.     City Government – Notice of Claim, pursuant to General Municipal Law §§ 50-e & 50-I, is NOT required per Margerum v. City of Buffalo, 24 NY3d 721 (2015).

d.   School District – There is a split of authority as to whether Notice of Claim, pursuant to Education Law §6224, is required. Washington v. Borough of Manhattan Community College, 2016 WL 7410717 (SDNY 2016) and McKie v. LaGuardia Community College/CUNY, 85 AD3d 453 (1st Dept 2011) say it is required while Keles v. Yearwood, 265 F.Supp.3d 466 (EDNY 2017) says it is not required.

e.      Public Library – Notice of Claim, pursuant to General Municipal Law §§ 50-e & 50-I, is NOT required per Margerum v. City of Buffalo, 24 NY3d 721 (2015).

f.      County Government – Notice of Claim, pursuant to County Law §52 as interpreted by Hami v. Chenango County, 2022 WL 1001530, (NDNY 2022) and also, by Picciano v. Nassau County Civil Service Com'n., 290 AD2d 164 (2nd Dept 2001) is required.

g.     State Government – Notice of Claim is NOT required, except Notice of Intention required if filing in Court of Claims on an election of forums.

h.     Federal Government – State discrimination claim is wholly unavailable and must proceed with federal anti-discrimination statute.


To bring a claim under Federal Law, the type of discrimination will impact how much time you have to bring a claim.

1.      If your claim is for housing discrimination:

a.      An administrative complaint can be brought within 1 year of the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice per 42 USC §3610.

b.    A court case can be brought within 2 years of the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice per 42 USC §3613(a)(1)(A).

2.      If your claim is for employment discrimination:

a.      A condition precedent to bringing a court case or proceeding to an administrative hearing is filing with the EEOC either [per 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(e)(1)]:

                                                    i.     180 days; or

                                                   ii.     300 days if your proceeding initially institutes with a state or local agency having “authority to grant or seek relief,” and New York State has such authority.  

b.     If you are a federal sector employee (i.e., work for the federal government), be warned, your limitations period is just 45 days for you to contact the EEO Counselor at your place of employment / prospective place of employment per 29 CFR §1614.105





Wednesday, July 20, 2022

New York Law Journal: Discrimination Boutique Takes on ADA Class Action on Behalf of Deaf Apartment Dwellers

Residents tried going to management directly, called on their elected leaders and on community organizers and even staged a demonstration outside of their homes that attracted media attention. Now one of them is going to the courts. Read the full article discussing the lawsuit that Lieb at Law, P.C. has brought to bring justice to the hearing impaired and deaf residents in this Manhattan building. 



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Thursday, June 02, 2022

Pride Month: 5 Tips to Stop Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

While sexual orientation and gender identity aren't expressly set forth protected classes from discrimination on the federal level in the United States, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia is a Supreme Court case that makes sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination illegal. Plus, many states and local governments offer further protection and damages to victims of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. 

Here are 5 tips to stop this heinous discrimination and create equality in our society for all. 

  1. Don't Miss Deadlines: Federal discrimination lawsuits provide only 2 years from the wrongful act to bring a lawsuit. Some states extend this to 3 years. However, there are often much shorter timelines dependent on who the perpetrator is, so act immediately. To illustrate, employment discrimination generally requires a filing with the EEOC within 300 days. Plus, a collective bargaining agreement can limit the statute of limitations for union workers even further. Alternatively, if the government is the defendant, a notice may need to be filed within 3 months or less. So, act swiftly if you are a victim.
  2. Don't Forget the Past: Just because deadlines exist from the last act of discrimination, it's possible to leverage a law called the Continuing Violation Doctrine to reprise untimely acts of discrimination in a lawsuit. So, make sure that you bring every wrongful act that you have experienced to the table if you are a victim of discrimination. That is the only way it can be stopped.
  3. Discrimination is NOT Just Physical: If an environment is hostile and filled with harassment, that is enough to bring a lawsuit. In fact, states like New York lower the hostile environment standard from the federal rule of severe and pervasive to inferior terms and conditions so long as the harassment rises above petty slights and trivial inconveniences. If you feel harassed because of your orientation or gender identity speak up now.
  4. It Goes Beyond Your Actual Orientation and Gender Identity: Your actual sexual orientation and gender identity are clearly protected from discrimination, but did you know that you are protected from discrimination even if the perpetrator got it wrong. The law also protects your perceived orientation and identity, which is particularly important for orientation because orientation needn't be confirmed from consistent sexual acts to exist.  
  5. Retaliation is Illegal: Don't be afraid to speak up out of fear of reprisal. Simply, if you experience any negative retaliation whatsoever when you are fighting back against discrimination that you are experiencing, you can sue for that retaliation too. If retaliation happens at work, housing, education, places of public accommodation, or many other places, you can receive money damages for retaliation plus the court can order it stopped with your prior situation restored. 




 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

New Housing Discrimination Notice on Source of Income Discrimination Proposed - Comment Period Open

On May 25, 2022, the NYS Division of Human Rights proposed 9 NYCRR 466.16, which will require any entity that administers any public housing program or assistance to provide a detailed notice of rights from source of income discrimination. The enabling statute, Executive Law 170-e, explains that an entity that administers includes "any state, county, municipal or other governmental entity. . . or any agency or instrumentality of such an entity, and any public or private non-profit entity authorized to administer any public housing program or assistance."


Specifically, "[t]he notice is to advise individuals of their right to nondiscrimination based on lawful source of income in housing pursuant to Human Rights Law section 296.2-a (publicly-assisted housing) or Human Rights Law section 296.5 (private housing)" pursuant to the regulation. 


The notice must be provided as follows:

  • Current recipients must receive notice within 30 days after the effective date of the regulation;
  • Future recipients must receive notice "upon notification such individual qualifies for the voucher or assistance"; 
  • "In writing, and in 14 point... font";
  • Electronically is permissible by a link to the notice; &
  • On all websites administered by the entity. 

The required notice will look like this:

KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A RECIPIENT OF HOUSING ASSISTANCE

By law, you are protected from housing discrimination.

The New York State Human Rights Law makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing on the basis of your source of income. This includes all forms of housing assistance (like Section 8 vouchers, HUD VASH vouchers, New York City FHEPS and others), as well as all other lawful sources of income including: Federal, state, or local public assistance, social security benefits, child support, alimony or spousal maintenance, foster care subsidies, or any other form of lawful income.

Housing providers who are covered by the Human Rights Law include landlords, property managers, real estate professionals like brokers, tenants seeking to sublet, and anyone working on their behalf.

Housing providers are not allowed to refuse to rent to you because you receive housing assistance. They are also not allowed to charge you higher rent, or offer you worse terms in a lease, or deny you access to facilities or services that other tenants receive.

Housing providers are not allowed to make any statement or advertisement that indicates housing assistance recipients do not qualify for the housing. For example, a housing provider cannot say they do not accept housing vouchers or that they do not participate in a program such as Section 8.

It is lawful for housing providers to ask about income, and about the source of that income, and require documentation, but only in order to determine a person’s ability to pay for the housing accommodation or eligibility for a certain program. A housing provider must accept all lawful sources of income equally. It is unlawful to use any form of screening of applicants that has the intent or result of screening out those receiving housing assistance.

If you believe that you have discriminated against by a housing provider with regard to your lawful source of income, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

How to File a Complaint
A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act or in court within three years of the alleged discriminatory act. To file a complaint, download a complaint form from www.dhr.ny.gov. For more information or assistance in filing a complaint, contact one of the Division’s offices, or call the Division’s toll-free HOTLINE at 1 (888) 392-3644. Your complaint will be investigated by the Division, and if the Division finds probable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, your case will be sent to a public hearing, or the case may proceed in state court. There is no fee charged to you for these services. Remedies in successful cases may include a cease-and-desist order, provision of housing that was denied, and monetary compensation for the harm you suffered. You can obtain a complaint form on the website, or one can be e-mailed or mailed to you. You can also call or e-mail a Division regional office. The regional offices are listed on the website. 


If you have thoughts about this notice or this regulation, you have until July 24, 2022 to comment by emailing: caroline.downey@dhr.ny.gov with I.D. No. HRT-21-22-00001-P in the subject line. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Workplace Discrimination FAQs

Is employment discrimination illegal?

 

Yes, discrimination in employment is illegal in the United States. Depending on the state you live in, there may be even greater protections, rights, and damages available to victims of workplace discrimination.

 

What qualifies as employment discrimination?

 

The laws enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and your individual state, entitle victims to sue for compensation in the event of unfair treatment based on their protected status or protected class.

 

While these vary from state-to-state, they may include the following: race, ethnic background, visible traits (hair texture, hairstyle, donning of religious garments or items), color, national origin, citizenship status, alienage status, immigration status, lawful source of income (subsidy recipient status), occupation, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (transgender status), domestic violence victim status, stalking victim status, sex offense victim status, familial status, pregnancy, presence of children, handicap (disability), age, military status, uniformed service, veteran status, first responder status, arrest record, and sealed conviction record.

 

Does discrimination have to be intentional to warrant compensation?

 

No. Regardless of whether the discrimination was unintentional or caused by implicit biases, you are entitled to fair compensation.

 

What is the most common workplace discrimination?

 

The most common types of discrimination in the workplace include racial discrimination, age discrimination, sex or gender discrimination, and disability discrimination.

 

Can an independent contractor sue for discrimination?

 

In many places, you can sue for workplace discrimination whether you are an employee, a domestic worker, or an independent contractor. If you are unsure of whether or not this applies in your state or locale, it’s best to consult with a skilled employment discrimination lawyer.

 

Who do workplace discrimination laws apply to? 

 

You have a right to compensation if you are discriminated against by anyone in the workplace. This could include a boss, coworker, vendor, client, patron, temp agency, or franchisor. 


Where can discrimination occur?


While workplace discrimination often occurs in the office, it can happen anywhere—over a conference call, in a meeting, at a holiday party, or at a work lunch—so long as you were fulfilling your work responsibilities at the time of the discriminatory incident. 

 

How do I know if I have been discriminated against at work?

 

Federal and state laws prevent hiring managers from changing available compensation, rates of pay, hours, or availability of employment based on your protected class status. Wages must be substantially equal between genders and, in cities like New York City, wage transparency will be required when jobs are advertised.

 

If you have been treated unfairly in any of these ways, have been spoken to in a demeaning way, or have been subjected to offensive jokes or comments based on your protected class status, then you may have a case for workplace discrimination and should consider reaching out to an experienced New York discrimination lawyer.

 

Can I be fired for speaking out against discrimination?

 

Not legally, no. If you are speaking out against discrimination in the workplace, you are protected from retaliation. This is true regardless of whether you are speaking out for yourself or on behalf of someone else. If you or a loved one have been fired or treated unfairly for speaking out against discrimination at work, we would love to take on your case and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Give us a call.

 

Can you sue for workplace discrimination?

 

Yes. Not only is it possible to sue for workplace discrimination, but Lieb at Law, P.C. has helped countless individuals recover compensatory damages and punitive damages for the pain inflicted by this unlawful act. Workplace discrimination is a violation of your rights and should never be tolerated.

 

How long do I have to sue for workplace discrimination?

 

Typically, federal law requires that you make a filing within 300 days of the discrimination (this may be cut down to 180 days based on your state’s laws, or even to 3 months if you work in education in places like New York).  However, certain state law claims can be brought up to 3 years after the incident. So, you should call right away and let us determine if you still have time to bring your case. 

 

What can I recover if I sue for workplace discrimination?

 

Employment discrimination claims can result in very high awards because they are designed to compensate victims for lost back-pay, lost front-pay, and experiencing emotional distress / loss of dignity. Additionally, the law provides that victims can recover other forms of compensatory damages, punitive damages, and their attorneys’ fees. In fact, the perpetrator can lose their license (if licensed), be required to take trainings, and be ordered to stop their offensive behavior. There are fines and more. However, we are ethically required to advise you that our prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. So, you should contact us today and get a tailored evaluation of your specific situation.



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Friday, May 06, 2022

Education Discrimination & Your Rights - What Victims Should Know

Education discrimination is illegal throughout the United States and in certain states, like New York, there are even greater protections, rights, and damages available to victims and their parents. 


When it comes to education, you and your child have a right to be free from harassment, bullying and other forms of wrongful discrimination that is perpetrated by teachers, the administration, or even other students (your peers). This applies to public schools, non-religious private schools, colleges and universities. Simply, you and your child can't be denied a right to learn because of who you are. 


Anti-discrimination laws in education apply regardless of whether the discrimination is explicit or implicit. While we've all heard about equal access to sports between the sexes / genders, or even teachers having sex with their students, discrimination lawsuits more commonly concern bullying of minorities, the failure to give testing accommodations to disabled students, and, even, the failure to extend days off to religious observers. Simply, it is the administration's duty to make education equally accessible to all and this failure can result in a lawsuit.  


On the federal level, Title IX of the Educational Amendments protects against sex discrimination while Title VI of the Civil Rights Act addresses race, color, and national origin discrimination, and finally Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects against disability discrimination. However, these federal laws on education discrimination were just limited by the Supreme Court and can, mostly, no longer result in victims receiving emotional distress or punitive damages.


Nonetheless, states, like New York, provide victims with the right to recover for their emotional distress and punitive damages. Moreover, New York adds protections by covering victims of discrimination with respect to additional categories, such as race, color, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, age and marital status. New York even makes clear that it's own public school districts can be held accountable for discrimination based on an amendment to its laws from July 25, 2019, A3425.


If you or your child were a victim of education discrimination, it is important to act quickly and file your claim after hiring a lawyer. In New York State, claims against public school districts must be filed within 3 months after the discriminatory event. While the State's anti-discrimination laws otherwise provide up to 3 years for lawsuits against non-public schools (i.e., private schools / colleges / universities), it's nonetheless important to act quickly to preserve all the discriminatory evidence (i.e., audio / video), which is done by immediately sending what is known as a spoliation notice.


To be clear, discrimination victims, in New York, can recover compensatory damages (being made whole with emotional distress damages), punitive damages (punishment damages), and your attorneys' fees. The perpetrator can lose their license (if licensed as educators or otherwise), be required to take trainings, and be ordered to stop their offensive behavior. There are fines and more. Discrimination is wrong and must be stopped. 


Don't be afraid to speak-up. If you are advancing an anti-discrimination right for yourself or your child, you are protected from retaliation. Even if it is ultimately found that you or your child was not discriminated against, you both can nonetheless be compensated for facing unlawful coercion, intimidation, threats, or other types of interference with your anti-discrimination rights. Again, this is not just true if you are advancing your own rights, it also applies if you are raising your child's rights, or another student's rights, because anti-retaliation laws protect anyone who aids and/or encourages someone else in exercising their rights to be free from discrimination. 




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Monday, May 02, 2022

US Supreme Court Eliminates Availability of Emotional Distress Damages in Certain Discrimination Cases - Congress?

Discrimination victims may only recover compensatory damages and injunctive relief, not punitive damages or emotional distress damages, when they bring cases under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and Title IX of the Educational Amendments, unless Congress acts NOW! 


As a desk reference:

  1. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 bars funding recipients from discriminating because of disability;
  2. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act forbids race, color, and national origin discrimination in federally funded programs or activities; 
  3. Title IX of the Educational Amendments prohibits sex-based discrimination education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance; and
  4. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act outlaws discrimination on any of the proceeding grounds, in addition to age, by healthcare entities receiving federal funds.


Until April 28, 2022, it remained an open question whether discrimination victims could recover emotional distress damages under those 4 federal statutes. Without emotional distress damages, a victim's recovery is limited because discrimination under these statutes do not concern fixed damages, like in employment where there is back-pay and forward-pay. Instead, most victims only experience humiliation, frustration, and loss of dignity when they are discriminated in healthcare, education, or by general recipients of federal funding. Nonetheless, the US Supreme Court ruled that emotional distress damages are not recoverable in discrimination cases brought under these 4 statutes when it issued its decision in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller


The case involved an accommodation request by a deaf and legally blind physical therapy recipient who requested an American Sign Language Interpreter at her sessions. You know, so that she could communicate and all. But, the provider said no, which was clearly an act of discrimination and not at issue before the Court. Instead, the Court was faced with determining whether the discrimination victim could recover emotional distress damages under the applicable statutes. 


Stated otherwise, the Court was charged with determining what recovery was available to a victim of discrimination where the Court had previously ruled that punitive damages were unavailable under the 4 statutes. So, what was left? Shouldn't emotional distress damages compensate a victim for their terrible and dehumanizing experience? 


No, said the Supreme Court because these 4 statutes were enacted under Congress' Spending Clause authority and such statutes are analyzed as contracts where defendants must have received clear notice of exposure to emotional distress damages for them to be recoverable. 


Yet, this clearly devastating decision to discrimination victims also has a clear solution. Congress needs to amend these 4 statutes today and provide clear notice that emotional distress damages are recoverable in all discrimination cases. Congress needs to act now. 



 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Handicapped Parking Discrimination - Proposed Legislation

A disabled individual can sue a property owner and its tenants for discrimination if technical specifications for handicapped parking are not followed to a tee. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides disabled individuals with a national right to have access at places of public accommodation, including by such places providing the right number / dimensions / signage as to handicapped spaces. On the state and local level, disabled individuals have even greater rights as against property owners and tenants for parking access discrimination. Taken together, property owners and tenants are charged with doing the right thing or losing their shirt in a discrimination lawsuit. 

Yet, what happens when a property owner and their tenants do the right thing, but some IDIOT blocks the spaces? New York State's Legislators have proposed an amendment to the Vehicle and Traffic Law to increase enforcement against blocking spots by expanding the types of properties that are subject to the law where officers can ticket the offender and remove / impound the vehicle. 

If the law passes, A9805 will also become applicable to "a shopping center or facility which at least one but less than five separate retail stores and at least twenty off street parking spaces provided for use by the shopping public." 

However, the ticket is just $50 to $75. Is that enough? 




Thursday, March 31, 2022

Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act Passes the House

The Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act passed the House on March 30, 2022 and now makes its way to the senate. 


If passed, the Act will require airlines, railroads, vessels, buses, and transit entities (e.g., Uber / Lyft) to establish "a formal policy with respect to transportation sexual assault or harassment incidents" together with appropriate trainings. 


It is specifically designed to notice, warn, prevent, and combat sexual assault and harassment by the public and staff making transportation safe for all involved. 


The Act establishes civil penalties against harassers starting at $35,000. 


Shouldn't it be safe to travel and shouldn't it be safe to work in transit?




Monday, March 21, 2022

New Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Law for Real Estate Brokers Signed by NYS Governor

A new anti-discrimination law is set to replace the current Standard Operating Procedure Law for NYS real estate brokers / salespersons. 

The current law is explained at our blog here and Governor Hochul's prior memorandum, from when she signed such law, indicating a change in the future, is here


Now, Governor Hochul has signed S7729 and made her promised changes to the Standard Operating Procedure Law. 


If you are confused, here is the Lieb Cast discussing this confusion and straightening it all out.


Here are the big 4 takeaways:

1. Real Estate Brokers must have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as to:

(i) whether prospective clients shall show identification;

(ii) whether an exclusive broker agreement is required; [and]

(iii) whether pre-approval for a mortgage loan is required; and

(iv) any other such standard operating procedures as the Secretary of State shall determine by regulation and upon notice and public hearing. 

2. Rather than brokerage firms being required to submit such SOPs to the Secretary of State, as required under the current law, under the new law, they will be required to first date stamp and notarize their SOPs, and then, post them on any publicly available website and mobile device application that the brokerage / team(s) / salesperson(s) maintain while also making them available, on request, to the public at their office locations;

3. On license renewal, brokers will be required to affirm their compliance with the new law to the Department of State; and 

4. Brokers must follow the current law until July 16, 2022 when this new law is first effective.


Remember, brokers who stray from their SOPs are going to have to explain, to DOS and/or in a discrimination lawsuit, why a particular buyer / tenant is being treated differently from the SOPs and how that act does not constitute discrimination.



 


 

Friday, March 18, 2022

5 Tips if you Face Discrimination

If you think that you are being discriminated against at work, in housing, within education, or during any other aspect of your life, you should take the following 5 steps immediately:


  1. Make Records: Memory fades and uncorroborated facts are unbelievable so you need to create evidence if you plan to bring a discrimination claim. If you live in a state like NY, where recording a conversation only requires one-party consent, then, start recording all of your conversations with witnesses and perpetrators immediately. If not, stick to a daily diary of events. Either way, get that evidence recorded starting now.
  2. Save Documents: If discrimination is occuring at work, make sure to take all of your employment agreements, policy manuals, and procedure documents and put them onto your personal computer or turn them into printed form. If discrimination is happening in housing, compile your lease, house rules, and all other written documents and make sure they are similarly saved. Remember, from the moment that you believe that you are a discrimination victim, you need to start creating a file of all the relevant documents to the discriminatory events, including everything peripheral thereto. When in doubt as to whether a document is relevant, save the document. 
  3. Befriend Witnesses: They say it takes a village and that couldn't be more true when you are trying to overcome discrimination that is wronging you. To win a discrimination case, you need allies and advocates in your corner. Did you know that your allies are also protected under discrimination law and can bring a claim themselves if they face retaliation for assisting you? 
  4. Stay Strong: Most victims are afraid to fight for their rights because they fear that they will face a worse situation if they speak up. If this is you, please know that every act of retaliation against you gives you a further legal claim against the perpetrator. Did you know that even if you lose your discrimination case, you can still recover damages on a retaliation claim? So, don't be afraid to speak up and fight for your rights.  
  5. Protect Yourself: This is the most important tip that we can give. You should always worry less about your ability to sue for damages incident to being discriminated against and worry more about being safe. If you feel in danger, always get out of that situation immediately and call the police. 

Finally, remember to always consult with an attorney because your attorneys' legal fees are recoverable as damages in a discrimination claim and nothing replaces receiving tailored advice for your specific situation before you act to stop it. 



Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Caregiver Discrimination Law Passes Senate

On March 8, 2022, S5063 was passed by the NYS Senate. It's now with the Assembly. 


The law would prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals based on such individual's status as a caregiver. 


This law will fill an important protection for employees who typically argue familial status discrimination or sex discrimination in such circumstances, but both categories really are like fitting a square peg in a round hole. 


As the Bill's Justification explains, "18 percent of adults in the United States have caregiving responsibilities" and these people need access to reasonable accommodations in limited circumstances, such as supervising "the diagnosis, care, or treatment of mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of the care recipient." 


In NYC, caregiver status is already protected. So, if you work there, you already have rights. 




Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Employment Laws - Year End Review

As the year comes to a close, we want to remind employers of the following recent laws, regulations and guidance related to the workplace, many of which are currently in effect or take effect early next year.


1) Vaccine/Mask Mandates


  • NYC Vaccine Mandate

NYC, via an Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene, now requires that all employers ensure that its workers are vaccinated against COVID-19. All private sector workers had to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by December 27, 2021 and a 2nd dose 45 days later. Employers are further required to verify and keep a record of each worker's proof of vaccination. Workers may seek a reasonable accommodation for a qualifying disability or sincerely held religious belief. Violators may be penalized $1,000 per violation.


  • OSHA (Federal) Mask Mandate

Citations (with large monetary penalties) for non-compliance with the OSHA vaccine mandate for all employers with 100+ employees is scheduled to begin on January 10, 2022. OSHA's mandate requires that qualifying employers ensure that all employees "be vaccinated or wear a protective face covering and take weekly tests." While the Sixth Circuit upheld the vaccine mandate, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the vaccine mandate on January 7, 2021. Stay tuned to our blog for updates.


  • NYS Mask Mandate 

Governor Hochul's statewide mandate requiring face mask/covering at all indoor public places is currently effective until January 15, 2022 (to be re-evaluated after this date). The mandate does not apply to indoor public areas that require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry. However, a business cannot "mix and match" i.e. permit individuals who show proof of vaccination to enter mask free while permitting those who do not present proof of vaccination to enter wearing a mask. Either no one is permitted entry that cannot provide proof of vaccination or everyone must wear a mask (whether vaccinated or not).


2. New York State HERO Act

On May 5, 2021, the NY HERO Act was signed into law in order to protect employees against exposure and disease during an airborne infectious disease outbreak. The HERO Act requires employers to take certain measures to protect their employees in the event of an outbreak including implementing an exposure prevention plan. On September 6, 2021, NYS Dept. of Health designated COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease, which means that employers must currently have a written airborne infectious disease policy in effect.


3. Notice of Employee Monitoring

Pursuant to a new law signed by Gov. Hochul, beginning on May 7, 2022, employers in NYS who wish to monitor or otherwise tap telephone calls, e-mails, or internet access of an employee via any electronic device or system, must give prior written notice upon hiring to all employees. Additionally, each employer must post the notice of electronic monitoring in a visible place in the office. Businesses will be subjected to fines for violations.


4. Cannabis Use in the Workplace
The Department of Labor issued guidance on Section 201-D of the NY Labor Law which prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees for using cannabis outside of the workplace on their own time. While, per the guidance, an employer may prohibit cannabis use during work hours, an employer may only discipline employees (where employee did not use cannabis during work hours) who "manifest specific articulable symptoms of impairment" due to cannabis use. For example, odor of cannabis, without more, is insufficient to discipline an employee.


5.  Whistleblower Protections

Effective January 26, 2022, employees/independent contractors will have significantly expanded whistleblower protections, pursuant to Labor Law 740, if they disclose or threaten to disclose, to a supervisor or to a public body, an activity, policy or practice of the employer, that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of law, rule or regulation or that the employee reasonably believes poses a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.


6. Shared Work Program

Employees, without fear of retaliation, may petition their employer, in writing in advance of a layoff or within ten (10) days after a layoff to implement a “Shared Work” program (A shared work program was formed to assist employers in avoiding layoffs and maintain trained workers during an economic downturn by allowing employees to receive partial unemployment benefits while working reduced hours).


7. Requirement to Include Minimum and Maximum Salaries for all Posted Positions

Beginning in April 2022, unless vetoed by January 14, 2022, a new law will require NYC employers to include in all job advertisements, the minimum and maximum salaries for the posted position. Positions extend to jobs, promotions, or transfer opportunities. Employers that fail to include the minimum and maximum salaries will be in violation of the NYC Human Rights Law.


8.  Mandatory Enrollment in Retirement Plan

Governor Hochul recently signed legislation that will require private sector employers who do not provide their employees with a retirement plan to automatically enroll their employees in New York State's Secure Choice Savings Plan. Employees are able to opt out of the program at any time. Stay tuned for more details as the program is developed and implemented.




Happy New Year!




Wednesday, December 22, 2021

New Law: Real Estate Brokerage in NYS is Changed for Good - Standardized Qualifying of Homebuyers Required

Write down December 21, 2021 as the date that real estate brokerage was changed forever in NYS. That is when S2131A was signed into law and became effective. 


If you are a real estate salesperson or an associate real estate broker at a brokerage firm that is unaware of this new law, it's time to change brokers. 


This law requires your broker to institute standardized operating procedures for the prerequisites prospective homebuyers shall meet and to submit such procedures to the Department of State. 


If procedures are changed, whatsoever, the new procedures shall be submitted within 30 days of the change. 


Plus, the law requires the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations and the combined law / regulations shall, at a minimum, require brokerages to have a policy as to: 

  1. Whether prospective clients shall show identification; 
  2. Whether an exclusive broker agreement is required; &
  3. Whether pre-approval for a mortgage loan is required. 


If you are a salesperson who is operating under a brokerage's license that fails to satisfy this new submission of procedures requirements, or if you fail to follow the procedures, you are subject to a license law violation and penalty, including revocation or suspension of your license. 


This is very serious and will also work as important evidence in any and every fair housing / discrimination litigation moving forward. 




New RE Brokerage CE Requirement - Implicit Bias Training - Lieb School is Ready

Starting on June 19, 2022, real estate licensees in NYS will be required to complete "at least two hours of instruction pertaining to implicit bias awareness and understanding" as part of their 22.5 hours of continuing education to renew their license because of a new law, S538B


According to the law, "'implicit bias' shall mean the attitudes or stereotypes that affect an individual's understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner."


Lieb School is ready and already offers an implicit bias course that counts towards the fair housing and discrimination requirements. To comply with the new law, we are re-submitting this course to count towards the required implicit bias training as well. 




New RE Brokerage CE Requirement - Cultural Competency Training - Lieb School is Ready

Starting on April 20, 2022, real estate licensees in NYS will be required to complete "at least two hours of cultural competency training" as part of their 22.5 hours of continuing education to renew their license because of a new law, S979A


Lieb School is on top of making sure that its students lead the industry, having already drafted curriculum to satisfy this requirement. Our course will educate licensees on the following subtopics:

  1. Right to Social Benefits of Integration
  2. Misunderstanding in Cultural Competency
  3. 4 Elements in Developing Cultural Competency
  4. Friction Between Cultural Sensitivity & Discrimination Law
  5. Cultural Norms, Preferences, & Challenges
  6. Cultural Competence Techniques

While this course is being finalized for licensing, we asked the Bill Sponsor, James Gaughran, for guidance on what he envisioned in the Curriculum by email on 12/15/2021. We await a response.





Tuesday, October 26, 2021

New Law Permits Employees to Petition Employers to Implement a "Shared Work" Program without Fear of Retaliation.

Governor Hochul signed Bill A07373 into law yesterday which permits employees to petition their employer (in writing, within ten (10) days after a layoff, or in advance of a layoff) to implement a "Shared Work" program in lieu of a layoff. While employers are not required to implement a Shared Work program, employers must respond to the employees' petition in writing within seven (7) days and may not discriminate or retaliate against any employees who bring a petition.

The Shared Work program was formed to assist employers in avoiding layoffs and maintain trained workers during an economic downturn by allowing employees to receive partial unemployment benefits while working reduced hours. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

DOL Provides Guidance On Cannabis Use in the Workplace

Upon the legalization of cannabis in New York State, Section 201-D of the New York Labor Law ("Discrimination against the engagement in certain activities") was amended to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for using cannabis outside of the workplace on their own time. 

The Department of Labor ("DOL") recently issued guidance (in the form of frequently asked questions) regarding certain elements of the law:

  1. Employee Discipline: While employers may not discipline employees for using cannabis while off-duty and off-premises, employers may take action against employees who "manifest specific articulable symptoms of impairment" on the job. The DOL guidance defines "articulable symptoms of impairment" as "objectively observable indications that the employee's performance of the duties of the position are decreased or lessened." For example: operating heavy machinery in a reckless manner would likely qualify. The DOL further specified that the following are not, without more, "articulable symptoms of impairment": 
    • positive test for cannabis;
    • odor of cannabis; and/or
    • other typical observable signs of cannabis use.
  2. Use at Work: Employers may prohibit cannabis use and possession during all work hours which include breaks and meals periods, even if the employee leaves the worksite, and when an employee is "on-call."
  3. Drug Testing: Employers may not test employees for cannabis outside of the following circumstances:
    • It is required by state or federal law for a particular position;
    • The employer would lose a federal contract or federal funding; or
    • The employee manifests "specific articulable symptoms of impairment" (although an employer may not discipline an employee based solely on a positive test, as stated above).  
Does this guidance provide clarity or just create more questions? In which of these areas do you foresee litigation?