Legal Analysts

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

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Major Sexual Assault / Sexual Harassment Law Signed by President Biden

On December 7, 2022, President Biden signed the Speak Out Act into law. 

Now, nondisclosure and nondisparagement contract clauses relating to sexual assault disputes and sexual harassment disputes are unenforceable if they were agreed to before the dispute arises. 

According to the Act, a nondisclosure clause means "a provision in a contract or agreement that requires the parties to the contract or agreement not to disclose or discuss conduct, the existence of a settlement involving conduct, or information covered by the terms and conditions of the contract or agreement" whereas a nondisparagement clause means "a provision in a contract or agreement that requires 1 or more parties to the contract or agreement not to make a negative statement about another party that relates to the contract, agreement, claim, or case."

This is a major law - make not mistake. 

While states like New York go even further than this protection for victims, at CPLR 5003-b and General Obligations Law 5-336, and that increased protection remains enforceable, most states don't protect victims from being preemptively silenced. 

With this increased nationwide protection, hopefully we can solve the horrific statistic that an "estimated 87 to 94 percent of those who experience sexual harassment never file a formal complaint." Victims need to be empowered to stand-up for their rights, not the other way around.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

US Supreme Court Invites Discrimination Against Same-Sex Applicant to Religious Organization

What happens when there is "an employment dispute between a religious employer and an applicant who was not hired because he disagreed with that employer’s religious views?" 

Stated otherwise, isn't allowing an employer to deny a job to someone who disagrees with their religious views a license to discriminate? 

To get specific, what should happen if a religious employer refuses to hire a bisexual applicant in a same-sex relationship just because of such orientation and relationship status? 

Should it matter if that applicant applied to work as a staff attorney rather than as a minister for the employer? 

While the US Supreme Court declined their opportunity to let us know for sure, with binding precedent, in Seattle's Union Gospel Mission v. Woods, their denial of certiorari seemingly indicates that they are inclined to allow religious employers to discriminate against same-sex individuals and prevent such individuals from working in any aspect within the organization, even outside of a religious job like a minister. 

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. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Workplace Sexual Harassment Hotline about to be Established by NYS Division of Human Rights

On March 7, 2022, the NYS Senate joined the Assembly to pass a bill (now going to the Governor to be enacted), which establishes a hotline for complainants of workplace sexual harassment. 

The Bill's Justification explains that "[n]early 75% of all sexual harassment goes unreported," and it envisions that this toll-free hotline, available, "at minimum, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.," which will "connect complainants with experienced pro-bono attorneys who will help make them aware of their legal rights and advise them on the specifics of their individualized cases," will result in more reported claims. 

The issue with this STUPID Bill is two-fold:

  1. Who needs a toll-free line in 2022? Aren't we past the time when telephone companies charge per second of use? Don't most people utilize VoIP or cell phones? What decade is the NYS Government operating in? Have they heard of the world wide web? 
  2. Why are they referring to pro-bono (free) attorneys on a type of case where the plaintiff can recover their attorneys' fees from the plaintiff, by statute, and almost no plaintiffs pay their attorneys hourly fees? Sounds like a lipservice law to us, no?

Oh, to discourage attorneys from participating in this pro-bono stupid law, it also states that "Attorneys may not solicit, or permit employees or agents of the attorneys to solicit on the attorney's behalf, further representation of any individuals they advise through the hotline relating to discussed sexual harassment complaint." 

Once signed, this law will take effect on the 120th day thereafter and we doubt it will do a single thing to benefit victims because right now, any victim of workplace sexual harassment can and should already contact any attorney that they know of for a free consultation and if a claim is brought, the plaintiff can sue for the defendant to pay their attorneys' fees, as a matter of law.


Friday, March 04, 2022

Sexual Harassment & Assault Claims can be Brought by victims as Class Actions in Court

Victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault can now proceed in a class action, with other victims, and can also litigate their case in court, individually or collectively, regardless of having previously executed an arbitration agreement. 

This is really important because powerful companies have traditionally forced their employees and independent contractors to sign predispute joint-action waivers, which prevent victims from bringing joint, class, or collective actions against those companies for sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 invalidated such waivers. Now, victims can work collectively and take on powerful companies in court in the same way that a union equalizes employee bargaining power at the proverbial negotiating table.

The Act also invalidates mandatory arbitration agreements, which heavily favor companies who regularly pay the same arbitrators, know their rules, have relationships, and win a vast majority of the time.

To learn more about this new law, here is an audio recording of my appearance on The Jay Oliver Show explaining the importance of the law right after it was passed by the Senate. To be clear, the recording misstates the law's effectiveness to past claims. The law only applies to claims that "arise[] or accrue[] on or after the date of enactment," which was March 2, 2022. 


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Expect New Federal Sex Discrimination Laws & Regulations by the End of 2021