Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label employment discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employment discrimination. Show all posts

Monday, May 06, 2024

Addressing Ethnic and Age-Based Harassment: Understanding Your Legal Options

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, affecting employees' well-being and career progression. If you're facing or have observed discrimination based on a combination of ethnicity and age, it's important to recognize that such behavior not only undermines professional environments but also violates federal and state laws.

Example of Discrimination:

Consider Angela's experience—a Hispanic woman in her fifties working as a technician in a manufacturing plant. Despite her dedication and hard work, Angela was subjected to continuous ethnic and age-based harassment from her colleagues. This harassment created a toxic atmosphere, making it difficult for her to perform her duties effectively. Angela attempted to address the issue by reporting the harassment to her shift supervisor, who unfortunately failed to take the necessary steps to escalate the complaint to human resources. This neglect allowed the harassment to persist, severely affecting Angela’s work life and mental health.

Guidance from the EEOC:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) emphasizes that employers have a legal obligation to address harassment once they are aware of it, regardless of whether the complaint comes directly from the victim or a third party. The EEOC guidelines help to clarify that any indication of harassment should prompt an employer to investigate and take appropriate action. This includes situations where the harassment is not explicitly labeled as such but is evident through the conduct described, such as unwanted physical contact or derogatory comments.

Advice from Andrew Lieb, Managing Attorney at Lieb at Law, P.C.:

"Employers must take immediate and effective action to investigate any allegations of harassment. Simply having a policy is not enough; the policy must be enforced to protect employees and maintain a respectful workplace. Victims should not hesitate to seek legal redress when their concerns are dismissed or inadequately addressed by their employer because they have a right to be protected."

Taking Legal Action:

If you relate to Angela’s situation or witness similar discriminatory practices, it's crucial to know that you have legal options available. Reporting the issue within your organization is a critical first step. If the response is insufficient, contacting a legal professional can help you navigate the complexities of filing a formal complaint and pursuing further legal action.

For personalized legal guidance and to explore the full scope of your rights and options, reach out to Lieb at Law, P.C. Our dedicated team is committed to advocating for those affected by workplace discrimination and ensuring that they receive the justice and support they deserve.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

SCOTUS - Discriminatory Job Transfers - The Simple Injury Standard is Born

The Supreme Court just adopted The Simple Injury Standard to identify discriminatory terms and conditions of employment when it ruled unanimously that an employer's act of transferring an employee "from one job to another because she is a woman" (or another protracted trait) is actionable discrimination under Title VII.

The case, Muldrow v. City of St. Louis, states that discrimination is actionable so long as the employee can identify "some harm" regardless if that harm is "significant" because to “discriminate against” refers to “differences in treatment that injure” employees. Specifically, in Muldrow, the plaintiff sued because her "terms [or] conditions" of employment were changed, even though her "rank and pay remained the same," because her new position changed her "responsibilities, perks, and schedule," based on who she was. SCOTUS explained that this "meet[s] that test with room to spare" in overturning the lower court's dismissal based on the now extinct "materially significant disadvantage" standard.  

In Muldrow, the simple injuries experienced that support a discrimination claim were:

  1. "She was moved from a plainclothes job in a prestigious specialized division giving her substantial responsibility over priority investigations and frequent opportunity to work with police commanders." 
  2. "She was moved to a uniformed job supervising one district’s patrol officers, in which she was less involved in high-visibility matters and primarily performed administrative work." 
  3. Her schedule became less regular, often requiring her to work weekends; and she lost her take-home car."

Specifically, SCOTUS held that "[a]lthough an employee must show some harm from a forced transfer to prevail in a Title VII suit, she need not show that the injury satisfies a significance test." That is the new test, resolving a split in the Circuit Courts, as to the definition of an adverse employment action for an employment discrimination claim. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Employment Discrimination - How Far Should We Go Back for Lawsuits?

NYS' Senate passed a bill, S345, on February 28, 2024, that would change the look-back period (a/k/a, statute of limitations) for employment discrimination in the State from 3 years to 6 years. 

Under Title VII, federally, employees only have 300 days to bring claims so moving the deadline for state claims from 3 years to 6 years would be huge.

How long is the right period that employees should be able to sue for employment discrimination? 

Do you think the Assembly should pass this bill or let it die like they did last time around?

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

PIX 11: Suffolk County Employee & His Attorney Andrew Lieb Alleges Racist Behavior By Colleagues

Breaking the Silence on Race Discrimination

Check out this powerful story about our client, Julio Germain, who faced shocking racism and discrimination at the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.

Julio Germain, a 38-year-old DPW employee, endured years of racist and discriminatory behavior from his co-workers and supervisors.

Julio bravely reported the misconduct, but management ignored his complaints and even retaliated by denying him promotions.

With the help of our team, Julio filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, and they have confirmed that there's probable cause to believe Suffolk County DPW engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices.

As the law firm representing Julio, we firmly stand against any form of discrimination, and we won't rest until justice is served.

Please share this story and let's create awareness to put an end to racism and discrimination in the workplace. Together, we can make a difference!

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Thursday, May 18, 2023

Artificial Intelligence as the Discrimination Actor in Employment Discrimination

Welcome to the age of artificial intelligence (AI) and employment discrimination. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just published a new recourse on AI and Title VII, which is a reminder that employment decisions are happening more and more through the utilization of AI and employers are responsible if the AI "has an adverse impact on individuals of a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 

In fact, the EEOC makes clear that employers may be responsible even if "the tools are designed or administered by another entity, such as a software vendor." 

So, all employers, regardless of location, should pay attention to NYC's NYC Local law 144, which became effective on January 1, 2023, and attempt to comply, as it's a way to mitigate your exposure. The Local Law regulates the use of "automated employment decision tools" when it comes to employment discrimination in hiring and promotions by requiring annual audits, a summary of audit results on the employer's website, and other notice requirements to those subjected to screening by the tool. 

By following NYC's lead with audits, employers can avoid major discrimination lawsuits through the fault of AI rather than human actors. That said, the audits should go beyond NYC's requirements and hit each of the 5 areas the EEOC suggests will result in discrimination claims, including: 

  1. Resume scanners that prioritize applications using certain keywords; 
  2. Employee monitoring software that rates employees on the basis of their keystrokes or other factors; 
  3. “Virtual assistants” or “chatbots” that ask job candidates about their qualifications and reject those who do not meet pre-defined requirements; 
  4. Video interviewing software that evaluates candidates based on their facial expressions and speech patterns; and
  5. Testing software that provides “job fit” scores for applicants or employees regarding their personalities, aptitudes, cognitive skills, or perceived “cultural fit” based on their performance on a game or on a more traditional test. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Passed into Law

As part of funding the federal government on December 29, 2022, by way of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, President Biden signed a new employment discrimination law that will be effective on June 27, 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

This new anti-discrimination law requires US employers to provide reasonable accommodations to address their employee's limitations related to "pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions," except if such accommodations would constitute an "undue hardship on the operations of the business" of the employer. 

If employers had any doubt, they should immediately and proactively adjust their policy manuals and spell-out how covered employee(s) can request to engage in the "interactive process" where such employee(s) can help to identity reasonable accommodations that would allow them to otherwise perform their essential functions of their job.

Make no mistake, the new law makes clear that employers cannot require covered employees to take leave, even paid leave, if a reasonable accommodation is otherwise available.

Moving forward, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions no longer need to constitute a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act for an accommodation to be statutorily required to be made available to employees throughout the United States.



Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Major Discrimination Update - NYS Human Rights Law Expanded to Prohibit Discrimination on Citizenship / Immigration Status

Citizenship Status and Immigration Status are now protected classes throughout the State of New York when it comes to discrimination in housing, public accommodations (commercial real estate), education, and employment.

Effective December 23, 2022, A6328A has amended the New York State Human Rights Law to protect a new group of New Yorkers, those who are subjected to different terms, conditions, and privileges based on their citizenship status and immigration status. It protects against discriminatory publications (i.e., advertising / statements). It protects from hostile environments. It is all encompassing to stop discrimination. 

According to the law, Citizenship or Immigration Status is defined to mean "the citizenship of any person or the immigration status of any person who is not a citizen of the United States."

Employers, landlords, and educational administrators may have a gut pushback to this law and wonder about issues it may cause for them if they are required to verify legal status as part of their business. Have no fear, the law permits verification and consequential adverse actions "where required by law." However, that does not mean that you can check status whenever you feel like it or believe the law requires it. Instead, it is incumbent upon any person who plans to verify status to first identify the legal basis for why status is required to be verified before doing anything. Otherwise, employers, landlords, and educational administrators should expect to be defending a lawsuit that can easily result in damages over six-figures.

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. 


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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Monday, May 16, 2022

New NYS Discrimination Law Enacted - Victims of Domestic Violence Protected

On May 13, 2022, NYS protected victims of domestic violence from discrimination in credit, housing, educational institutions, employment agencies, and labor organizations. Even real estate brokers are subject to this law and everyone needs to know that they must treat victims with the respect and support that they need and deserve. 

While domestic violence victims have been protected from employment discrimination since 2019, within the state, the new law, S8417B, even expands this category by now making employment applications and advertisements subject to the law. 

Simply, if you are a victim of domestic violence, you have rights. This applies to the "1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men [who] will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime" according to CDC reports. Simply, you are not alone and if you experience discrimination you have the right to be compensated. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Employment Discrimination & Your Rights - What Victims Should Know

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

Whether you were discriminated against in your workplace by your boss (owner / supervisor / manager), a co-worker, a vendor, a client / customer / patron, a Professional Employment Organization (PEO) / temp agency, or a franchisor, you are entitled to compensation. This is true wherever the discrimination occurred (at the office / zoom / conference / meeting/ holiday party) so long as you were fulfilling your work responsibilities when it happened. This is often even true whether you are an employee, domestic worker or independent contractor. This is even true if the discrimination was unintentional or caused by the perpetrator's implicit biases. 

Anti-discrimination rights and protections entitle victims to sue for compensation if discrimination occurred because of your protected status / protected class, which statuses / classes vary throughout the United States, but may include your 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.

The law prevents hiring managers from changing available compensation, wages, rates of pay, hours or other terms and conditions, or availability of, employment based on your protected class status. Job listings can't be discriminatory on their face and in places like NYC, wage transparency is required when jobs are advertised. Plus, wages must be substantially equal between the genders.

Employment discrimination laws apply beyond hiring, where firing / discharge / layoffs cannot be motivated by discrimination either. Speaking of termination, be warned that severance agreements generally waive your anti-discrimination rights so don't sign them if you think that you have a claim until you speak to your lawyer.   

Most importantly, workplace discrimination laws protect workers while they are on the job where seniority or other privileges of employment cannot be influenced by discriminatory animus. Stated otherwise, sex can't be traded for job benefits and no one should experience a hostile environment where they are treated inferiorly to someone else because of their protected class status. The old boys club is over and we now exist in a meritocracy.  

To get this message across, many places, like NYS, require employers to provide anti-discrimination trainings, policies, and complaint forms to employees/ independent contractors.  

Beyond discrimination laws preventing employers from treating victims inferiorly, employees who are handicapped / disabled are also entitled to receive reasonable accommodations (change to policies / procedures / rules) and reasonable modification (change to structure) so that you can enjoy equal employment opportunities. Plus, if you are a disabled employee, your actual diagnosis need not be fully revealed and can remain confidential when you seek such an accommodation / modification. The most common handicap / disability cases that we see involve job task changes, reserved parking, modified work areas, and other failure-to-accommodate cases. When it comes to handicapped / disabled people, it's all about providing access.  

The same is true for religious accommodations. Simply put, unless its an essential job function or causes your employer an undue hardship, your employment opportunities should not be denied for religious observance. The most common religious accommodation that we see are flexible schedules, because your holidays or high holy days may not be the same as your employers, and dress code flexibility so you can wear the appropriate attire to respect your belief system. 

Don't be afraid to speak-up. If you are advancing an anti-discrimination right, you are protected from retaliation. Even if it is ultimately found that you were not discriminated against, you can nonetheless be compensated for facing unlawful coercion, intimidation, threats, or other types of interference with your anti-discrimination rights. This is not just true if you are advancing your own rights, it also applies if you are an ally who is aiding and/or encouraging someone else to exercise their rights to be free from discrimination. 

Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other state / local anti-discrimination laws make work available to everyone without stigma, loss of dignity, or other harms. If you are a victim, you can recover compensatory damages (being made whole with emotional distress damages, back-pay, front-pay and/or reinstatement), punitive damages (punishment damages), and your attorneys' fees. 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. Discrimination is wrong and must be stopped. 

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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

NYC Salary Transparency in Job Advertisements FAQ Published

The NYC Commission on Human Rights published its FAQ that needs to be reviewed and adhered to by any employer advertising positions that may be performed in NYC starting on May 15, 2022.  

If you are an employer who is seeking an employee whose job may be performed, in whole or in part, in NYC, you will need to comply with Local Law 32 of 2022, which requires salary transparency. 

To comply, employers' advertisements "must state the minimum and maximum salary they in good faith believe at the time of the posting." 

Be sure to do this correctly because the FAQ reminds employers that "[e]mployers and employment agencies who are found to have violated the NYCHRL may have to pay monetary damages to affected employees and civil penalties of up to $250,000."

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 16, 2022

Caregiver Discrimination Update by EEOC

Last week, we reported that Caregiver Discrimination Protection passed the NYS Senate

Interestingly, this week, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published an update on Caregiver Discrimination Under Federal Employment Discrimination Laws

This document reminds employers and employees that "it would violate the law if an employer refused to hire a female applicant or refused to promote a female employee based on assumptions that, because she was female, she would (or should) focus primarily on caring for her young children while they attend school remotely, or on caring for her parents or other adult relatives."

In fact, there are 18 FAQ reminders that should be studied by anyone who has the responsibility to balance caring for another with their job responsibilities. 

Also, employers should review the document and focus in on the Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities to update their EEO policies. 

3 Workplace Discrimination Laws on Governor Hochul's Desk

On 3/15/2022, 3 important workplace discrimination laws made their way to the NYS Governor's Desk to be signed and enacted. 

A7101 - Prohibits the release of personnel records as a retaliatory action against employees who complain or assist in proceedings involving unlawful discriminatory practices by employers.

A2483B - Includes the state and all public employers as employers subject to the provisions of the human rights law; includes executive, legislative and judicial employers.

A2035B - Establishes a toll free confidential hotline for complainants of workplace sexual harassment to be administered by the division of human rights; makes related provisions.

Are you ready? 

As an update, all 3 were signed into law on 3/16/2022.

Monday, January 10, 2022

New Rules Protecting Federal Employees from Employment Discrimination Published

Since 2021, federal employees have been protected from workplace discrimination by the Elijah E. Cummings Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination Act of 2020, which added protections, notice, and reporting to the No FEAR Act.

To implement the Cummings Act, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published proposed rules on January 6, 2022, which are currently in the public comment period. 

These rules include:  

  • Whistleblower and retaliation protections;
  • Notice of findings of intentional acts of discrimination to be made on a publically accessible internet page;
  • Agencies to submit annual reports to the Director of OPM;
  • Agencies to submit disciplinary action reports to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
  • Agency employees found to have intentionally committed discriminatory acts, including retaliation, will have notations of the discriminatory acts added to the employee's personnel record;
  • New public disclosure obligations; and
  • Federal agencies to add new trainings for all employees about their rights and remedies under law.

The comment period ends on 2/07/2022 and then, these rules will be finalized to become effective. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Americans with Disabilities Act Update: COVID-19 Considered a Disability for Purposes of Employment Discrimination

Thousands of Americans who have contracted COVID-19 may now qualify for disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) passed new ADA guidelines to cover individuals with COVID-19 disabilities.

There are three ways a person can be deemed to have a COVID-19 disability under the ADA.

  1. A person with COVID-19 has an Actual Disability if the person’s medical condition or any of its symptoms is a "physical or mental" impairment that "substantially limits one or more major life activities." An individualized assessment is [required] to determine whether the effects of a person’s COVID-19 substantially limit a major life activity. This will always be a case-by-case determination.
  2. A person who has or had COVID-19 can be an individual with a Record of a Disability if the person has "a history of, or has been misclassified as having, an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, based on an individualized assessment.”
  3. A person is Regarded as an Individual with a Disability if the person is subjected to an adverse action (e.g., being fired, not hired, or harassed) because the person has an impairment, such as COVID-19, or the employer mistakenly believes the person has [COVID-19].”

In some cases, regardless of whether an individual’s initial case of COVID-19, itself, constitutes an actual disability because the case-by-case evaluation does not result in such a determination, that individual’s COVID-19 may end up causing impairments that are themselves disabilities under the ADA.

If you meet either the “actual" or “record of” definition of disability you may be eligible for a reasonable accommodation at the workplace.

It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees or applicants based on a COVID-19 disability. Further, it is unlawful for employers to refuse to provide reasonable accommodation for those with COVID-19 disabilities if it does not place an undue hardship on the employer.

If you believe you’ve been the target of COVID-19 Disability Discrimination by an employer then you should seek the counsel of an attorney to determine the extent of your injuries. Your attorney can assist you filing a legal complaint with EEOC. If the employer is found to have acted unlawful according to the ADA, then your attorney can leverage your position so you are awarded compensatory damages, penal damages, penalties, and attorney fees.

Also, don't forget that state and local anti-discrimination laws have lower standards to qualify for protection so even if you don't qualify under the ADA, check your state, county, city, or town / village. 

Monday, December 06, 2021

Second Circuit Holds that Requiring Teachers to Submit a Letter from a Religious Leader in Support of a Request for a Reasonable Accommodation is Unconstitutional

The 15 public school teachers who challenged New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate live to fight another day in court.

The teachers have refused to comply with the City’s mandate arguing that compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is a violation of their religious rights under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.

The Court determined that the reasonable accommodation standards in the City's vaccine mandate was unconstitutional as applied to the 15 teachers because the mandate required employees who requested a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to submit a letter from a religious leader confirming the validity of the employee's religious beliefs. If the religious leader had well-documented public comments in support of taking the vaccine, the request for exemptions would be denied.

The Court reasoned as follows:

Denying an individual a religious accommodation based on someone else's publicly expressed religious views-even the leader of her faith-runs afoul of the Supreme Court's teaching that "[i]t is not within the judicial ken to question the centrality of particular beliefs or practices to a faith, or the validity of particular litigants' interpretations of those creeds."

However, the Court declined to extend protections against the mandate to all teachers stating that the mandate itself was "a reasonable exercise of the state's power to act to protect the public health."

Based on this decision, employers should only consider the employee's specific religious beliefs (in determining whether they are "sincerely held") when processing a reasonable accommodation request. Someone else's belief  - even if it is a religious leader - is irrelevant. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Artificial Intelligence Decides if You're Hired! Is It Discriminatory?

Wonder why you were denied the last job or promotion you applied for? 

Wonder no more, because there is a good chance that it wasn't a human's decision. In fact, Artificial Intelligence "AI" has become the judge on who is hired or who is promoted for most employers and employment agencies. However, AI isn't perfect and may be infringing on your anti-discrimination rights if it's not properly programmed and regularly audited. 

That is why AI or Automated Employment Decision Tool "AEDT" has been the target of much scrutiny. Experts point out that AEDT are prone to bias in their hiring and promotion process. Biases include racial, sexual, and ethnic discrimination, amongst so many other protected categories. This problem has become so worrisome that New York City is putting in place an amendment to the New York City Administrative Code to curb the use of AI in hiring. 

Such amendment was approved by the New York City Counsel on November 10th, 2021. It can be read here.  The purpose of the Bill is to require employers and employment agencies to assess employees and candidates without the use of machine learned biases. The effects of such machine learned biases are discriminatory in nature.

Now, the Bill is on the Mayor's desk and goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

The Bill is limited to regulating AI decisions that screen candidates for employment or screen employees for promotion. This limitation is not without exception. An AEDT is allowed if the tool has undergone an independent bias audit no more than one year prior to it use. The audit's summary then must become publicly available on the employers' or employment agencies' website.

But how will you know if the employer or employment agency is using AEDT on you? The law enforces notification guidelines that will inform employees and candidates of its use.

If caught in violation of the law, employers and employment agencies face fines of up to $500 for the 1st violation, and fines between $500 to $1,500 for each subsequent violation. Plus, they may be exposed to a discrimination lawsuit with compensatory damages, punitive damages, penalties and attorneys' fees being awarded to the victim. If you believe that you were discriminated against by an AI / AEDT, your lawyer will be able to determine it's involvement during the lawsuit and leverage the company's non-compliance with the NYC Bill to win your case. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Filing a Discrimination Complaint with the NYS Division of Human Rights Just Got Easier

As of July 16, 2021, discrimination victims need not have their discrimination complaints notarized before filing them with the NYS Division of Human Rights, per a change to Executive Law 297(1)

This applies to both victims of employment discrimination and housing discrimination.

According to the laws justification, the notarization requirement "discourage[d] people from filing complaints" and the Division nonetheless received over 6,000 complaints annually. 

How many complaints will the Division receive now? 

Do you think that this new law makes sense? 

Does it matter if a document is notarized? 

Shouldn't preventing discrimination be as easy as pie?