Protection Against Retaliation for Accommodation Requests in New York City

The New York City Council passed Intro 799 this past June. This ordinance is awaiting the mayor’s signature, and it will protect individuals who request reasonable accommodations from retaliation by their employers.

What does this mean for you?

The New York City Human Rights Law is one of the most progressive anti-discrimination laws in the nation. The law mandates that all employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for certain protected groups of employees. An employer must grant reasonable accommodations to employees who are disabled, pregnant, victims of domestic violence, or part of a protected class. Providing an accommodation is required unless doing so would produce undue hardship for the employer.

Additionally, the New York City Human Rights Law makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against people who engage in various protected activities. Employers, landlords and the like, cannot take adverse action against people who file discrimination lawsuits, assist in discrimination investigations, or engage in a variety of other protected activities.

Appellate Courts in New York have recently taken some of the teeth out of the New York City Human Rights Law. They have held that a request for accommodation does not constitute a protected activity. In response, the New York City Council drafted Intro 799, which was designed to re-affirm the intent of the New York City Human Rights Law. The amendment adds requests for reasonable accommodation explicitly as a protected activity. The hope is that in the future, the Appellate Courts will interpret the New York City Human Rights Law more broadly, and in conformity with the legislative intent of the New York City Council.

Specific details added by the New York City Council.

This new amendment to Chapter 1 of section 8-107(7) of the New York City Human Rights law will make it illegal to retaliate when a person has, among other things, asked for a reasonable accommodation. Companies, landlords, and other covered entities that engage in this kind of discrimination can be subject to significant penalties, just as they would be if they retaliated against a person for reporting discrimination and other forms of wrongdoing.

What Can Employees Do?

Employees who believe that their employer has wrongfully taken action against them will soon be able to use this section of the New York City Human Rights Law to bring a claim against their employer. Discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, age, disability status, and many other protected categories is illegal under Federal, New York State, and New York City anti-discrimination laws. Consulting with an experienced employment attorney is key to preserving potential claims. Firms that keep up with and understand legislative authority can be especially helpful in these matters.


Age Discrimination on the Rise in the U.S. Job Market

In an era of record-low unemployment, older workers are still facing discrimination in the workplace. Even in areas where employers are desperate for workers, those over 50 may have difficulty in finding a job that suits their talents and experience. According to recent employment statistics, more than half of all workers over the age of 50 lose their jobs before retirement age. In 90 percent of these cases, the affected workers never regain their previous salaries and upward mobility.

Recruitment on Social Media

One of the most subtle forms of age discrimination may be the use of social media sites as recruitment tools. By publishing job openings and recruiting on Facebook, Twitter, and other online sites, companies may be able to limit the number of older people who see and respond to these ads. This can serve as a passive method of screening out less net-savvy individuals and increasing the percentage of younger workers who apply for these jobs.

Screening Out Older Workers

Resumes that include years of experience may be viewed by employers as an indication that the worker is older, which can allow companies to eliminate some of the most qualified applicants for a particular job. The claimed reasons for these actions may be that the individuals are overqualified or that they lack qualifications that are never clearly explained or outlined in the job description.

During the interview process, older workers also experience discrimination based on their appearance. This leads to both conscious and unconscious bias during interviews and can reduce the likelihood that an older applicant will be reasonably considered for the job.

Increased Risk of Prolonged Unemployment

According to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, older workers are less likely to find a job quicker than their younger counterparts. A 54-year-old job seeker, for example, takes almost a year to obtain gainful employment on average. A study sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that older applicants were far less likely to find work than their younger competitors.

The study involved 40,000 fictitious resumes sent out by researchers across a wide range of low-skill professions. The older the imaginary candidate, the less likely he or she was to receive a callback. The study also found that age discrimination began earlier for women, with those in their 40s more likely to experience difficulties in obtaining jobs and in achieving promotions in the competitive marketplace. This could lead to financial issues and other challenges for otherwise qualified candidates.

Finding the Right Representation

Many age discrimination victims are discouraged from taking their case to court because of the expense involved in the process. Working with a qualified and knowledgeable attorney who concentrates in employment law is the most reliable way to hold companies accountable for age discrimination. By taking action against companies that routinely bypass older and more qualified applicants in favor of younger candidates, you can do your part to reverse this current and unfortunate trend in the employment marketplace.

At Risman & Risman, we focus on all aspects of New York employment law. We can pursue your age discrimination case and provide you with the best representation for your legal action in and out of court. We approach your case with compassion and comprehensive knowledge of the legal landscape. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free consultation with our team. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you.


Parental Leave Policy Prompts Lawsuit, Settlement by JPMorgan Chase

On May 30, 2019, JPMorgan Chase & Co. reached an agreement in a class-action lawsuit regarding its parental leave policies. The father who initiated the case had been denied the 16 weeks of paid parental leave offered by the company because he was deemed not to be the child’s primary caregiver. The proposed settlement will include changes to the company’s policy and training to make sure that the parental leave policy is handled in a gender-neutral and nondiscriminatory manner. It will also establish a $5 million compensation fund for other fathers who have experienced similar discrimination in the past.

A Pattern of Gender-Based Discrimination

JPMorgan Chase is not the only company that has faced criticism and legal action based on its unequal application of parental leave policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) settled a case in 2018 against Estée Lauder that netted a $1.1 million payout for 210 male employees. Estée Lauder had offered only two weeks of paid leave for new male parents, which contrasted unfavorably with the six weeks of leave afforded to female parents in the same situations. The EEOC found that the actions taken by Estée Lauder in offering less paid parental leave for male parents than for female parents were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Understanding Your Rights as an Employee

If you have been treated differently from other employees because of your gender, age, race, sexual orientation or other protected class, working with a qualified New York employment law firm is crucial to protect yourself from the negative repercussions stemming from this unequal treatment. Failing to take action to address these issues could result in further negative and adverse effects and a reduced ability to earn throughout your working career. By working with a qualified and knowledgeable employment law attorney, you can take the appropriate steps to reduce unfavorable consequences and create a fairer and more even playing field for all employees within your organization.

The Role of Your New York Employment Lawyer

By retaining the services of an attorney with experience in the employment law field, you can rest assured that your case is evaluated accurately and that you receive the best possible representation for your situation.

As leaders in the field of New York employment law, Risman & Risman offer focused assistance for clients in the New York metropolitan area. Our team will work diligently on your behalf to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcomes for your case. To learn more about our services or to schedule a free consultation with our team, call us today at 212-233-6400. At Risman & Risman, we work for you.


New Proposal Limits Ability of Employees to Sue Franchise Companies

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) announced on April 1, 2019, that it plans to limit the ability of employees to pursue claims against companies based on the actions of their franchise owners or contractors.  While employees could still take legal action against their local franchise holder or contractor, the new proposal would prevent them from including the franchisor as part of their lawsuit.   This limitation could significantly affect the ability of employees to collect damages for violations of overtime and minimum-wage laws.

Four Factors Will Determine Whether Joint Employment Is Applicable

The DoL proposal establishes four factors used to determine joint-employment status between franchises and franchisees.  Franchise companies must engage in most of these activities to be considered joint employers with the local franchise locations:

•    The franchisor has and uses its power to hire and fire employees at the local franchises.
•    It sets schedules and has supervisory responsibility for employees.
•    The franchisor maintains employment records for individual franchise locations.
•    It sets pay rates for employees.

Franchise companies that do not engage in this level of management with their local franchises would necessarily be immune from claims against them based on the actions of their franchise locations.

The Franchise Paradigm

Large franchises like McDonald’s, SUBWAY and KFC hold varying degrees of control over their franchise holders, which allows the franchise to protect its reputation and its brand for the benefit of all franchises.  Because of this control, the U.S. has historically recognized the filing of lawsuits that included both the local franchise owner and the franchise itself for minimum-wage violations and other employment issues.  This policy was outlined most recently in 2016 when the DoL specifically stated that franchises could be held liable as a joint employer for infractions committed by the local franchise owner.

Added Protections for Big Business

The DoL proposal would provide an added level for protection for some of the largest businesses in the U.S.  By preventing lawsuits against the parent franchise for the actions of the individual franchise locations; the move would reduce the liability for these corporations.  The DoL announcement was greeted with approval by the International Franchise Association. The president of that organization stated that the proposed rule “creates certainty for America’s 733,000 franchise businesses.”

Reduced Protections for Workers

For those employed by franchise locations, however, this proposed rule change would reduce their ability to collect meaningful compensation for illegal actions taken by their employers.  Many franchise locations operate on a smaller profit margin than their upstream franchisors.  This rule could limit the amount that could be collected by employees who have been negatively affected by the policies of these companies.

At Risman & Risman, we specialize in providing zealous and effective representation for employees in the New York City area.  Our employment law team is committed to helping our clients achieve their goals and in providing tailored solutions for a wide range of employment issues.  We offer competent strategies and caring representation for cases of discrimination in the workplace and other employment law violations.  Call our offices today at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free consultation with our team.  We are here to work for you.


New Regulations Prevent Discrimination Based on Hairstyle in New York City

According to an article published in The New York Times, New York City has announced its intention to take another step forward in protecting individuals from discrimination within city limits.  The New York City Commission on Human Rights released new guidelines on February 18, 2019, that will prohibit discrimination against people because of their hairstyle or hair. While the law applies to any person in New York City, the new regulation includes language specifically mentioning “hairstyles such as locks, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”

Legal Recourse for Employees

The new regulations will protect workers who previously have been harassed, demoted or had their employment terminated because of their choice of hairstyle.  Employers will no longer have the right to dictate how individual staff members wear their hair.  Rules that apply to all employees equally, however, will still be enforceable. This includes rules about hair nets for food service workers and safety requirements about keeping hair secured in a ponytail or headband.

The Right Legal Help for Employees

Working with an experienced and knowledgeable New York City employment lawyer can help you enjoy the benefits of professional legal counsel and protect your rights in the workplace.

At Risman & Risman, our focus is on providing our clients with clear and practical guidance on all their employment issues.  We have more than 20 years of combined legal experience and can negotiate the right solution for your employment and financial needs. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free initial consultation. Our team will be happy to go to work for you.

Best Regards,


Real Help for Victims of Sexual Harassment

A story reported by the New York Times in January 2019 involving allegations of sexual abuse and assault is tragic and alarming on its face and should act as a reminder that similarly situated individuals should act to combat these illicit actions as soon as they can.

The victim-accuser, Jennifer Glover, is left without a job and seeking compensation for her injuries from her former employer. She reported that she was sexually harassed, physically assaulted and injured on the job by attacks from other employees during the performance of her duties as a guard at the Nevada National Security Site. After she reported the assault and complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Glover was removed from her position.

A Frightening Situation

During a training drill that took place in November 2017, smoke deployed, and combatants simulated shootings and being taken into custody. Glover was told to lie down during this exercise because she was “dead” and was then handcuffed by two male security protection officers also engaged in the exercise. She was groped, hit by a rifle, and a nipple ring was forcibly removed from her body, causing an injury. When Glover reported the incident to her manager, she felt she was dismissed and was allegedly told, “This can happen in a man’s world.” The investigation identified no suspects, and no disciplinary action was apparently ever taken against the men who assaulted Jennifer Glover.

A Hostile Workplace Environment

Glover’s experience is not unique. Women in largely male-dominated workplaces often are subjected to harassment and abuse. Even when these actions are reported, women may face retaliation from employers and from the individuals responsible for mistreating, harassing and assaulting co-workers in the working environment. Working with a qualified attorney is often the best way to pursue these charges and achieve a fair resolution of sexual harassment claims against employers and staff members at work.

Taking on Sexual Harassment

Allegations of sexual harassment are often overlooked or dismissed by employers. As an employee, however, you have the right to work in an environment free of rude comments concerning gender, unwanted physical contact, and offensive communications and materials. By standing up for your rights with the help of an employment law attorney, you can ensure that your job is protected and that your employer does not succeed in retaliating against you for complaints and claims made with EEOC or other agencies.

The Right Solutions for Employees

For individuals working in the state of New York, enlisting the services of a qualified attorney who concentrates in employment law can provide the proven solutions and practical help needed to resolve sexual harassment and other issues that can occur in the workplace. Legal assistance will allow you to enjoy greater peace of mind and, in some cases, provide for an opportunity to receive fair compensation for illegal actions taken by your employer against you.

At Risman & Risman, we offer compassionate and caring legal representation for individuals who may have suffered severe issues in the workplace. As established New York employment law attorneys, we work with you to determine the right approach to restoring your reputation and ensuring the best possible outcome for your sexual harassment case. Our team will provide you with the assistance and support you need to achieve your goals and to hold your employer and other individuals accountable for their failure to act on your behalf. Give our office a call today at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys. At Risman & Risman, we work for you.


Risman & Risman, P.C. In The News: Law360 Article On New York’s New Stance on Paid Sick Leave

Jeffrey Risman, a partner of Risman & Risman, P.C., was quoted in a Law360 article on April 4, 2016, titled “NY Family Leave Policy Could Gain Momentum In Other States,” by Vin Gurrieri.

As reported in the article (subscription required), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Monday the nation’s most comprehensive family leave program, which allows workers to take 12 weeks to care for newborn children or seriously ill family members.

The policy was first announced by Cuomo last week as part of the 2016-17 New York state budget, making New York the fifth state along with the District of Columbia to enact laws that provide paid family leave for employees.

The article reports that this new policy can be one of the state’s broadest measures yet. “New York’s new paid leave policy is transformative in expanding benefits to workers who are most in need by not forcing them to make the choice between their health, the care of a loved one and their livelihood,” said plaintiffs attorney Jeffrey Risman of New York-based Risman & Risman PC. “New York’s policy is certainly the most progressive and extensive of its kind in the country, and I hope that other states follow suit.”

Risman, meanwhile, believes that any reservations by employers to the New York policy and similar versions may not lie in any potential financial burden, but rather in the fear that they are going to be scrambling to replace individuals on leave.

But ultimately, Risman said he believes the policy “will enable employers to be able to obtain and retain better candidates.”

Risman & Risman, P.C. wants to make sure that you are fully protected as an employee under the various body of laws in New York State and New York City.  If you believe you or your family member was and/or has been discriminated or retaliated against in the workplace, please contact the employment attorneys of Risman & Risman, P.C. at (212) 233-6400 or contact us online.


Jeffrey Risman of Risman & Risman, P.C. Selected to 2015 American Society of Legal Advocates Top 40 Under 40 Labor/Employment Lawyers in the State of New York

Risman & Risman, P.C. is proud to announce that Jeffrey Risman has been selected to the 2015 American Society of Legal Advocates Top 40 Under 40 Labor/Employment Lawyers in the State of New York.

About the ASLA Selection Process

Overview

ASLA’s exclusive membership comprises less than 1.5% of all licensed lawyers nationwide. ASLA is both highly selective in extending invitations and in determining which specialties to include for a given state. Because many specialties typically include listings for Top 100 Lawyers and Top 40 Lawyers Under 40, in order to remain selective we ensure that each specialty in a state has a sufficient number of practicing lawyers to merit inclusion. Those states with relatively low populations of practicing lawyers often will support only one or two specialties. ASLA monitors practice trends from year to year prior to extending invitations in each state.

Process

ASLA’s entire selection process is conducted manually by lawyers. Prospective members initially are evaluated based on publicly-available information, although member nominations also are accepted from current members, other lawyers, and past clients. Self-nominations and nominations from public relations firms or advertising agencies are not accepted.

The selection process consists of a rigorous, manual, multi-stage review:

ASLA’s lawyers comprehensively review available information for each candidate, including a review of firm websites, client assessments, and publicly-available filings, which may include: verdicts, settlement information, and information regarding transactions. Each candidate is assessed based on such criteria as educational accomplishments, involvement and leadership in bar associations and professional organizations, activities within their community, and demonstrated legal achievement. In the case of younger lawyers, ASLA also evaluates indications of developing success, both in a candidate’s day-to-day practice and in serving the profession.

Each area of assessment is considered, and each candidate is assessed on his or her own merits. Just as the student body of an elite university is comprised of individuals with many different backgrounds and strengths, ASLA likewise strives to invite a range of members who have stellar legal credentials as a baseline, but also a range of interests and activities.

After the initial list of nominees is prepared, at least one separate lawyer reviews all compiled data and confirms nominations. To ensure the integrity of the process, no lawyer who participated in the first phase of selection is permitted to conduct the second phase.

In the final stage, the list of finalists is again reviewed and candidates either are confirmed for invitation or placed on a holding list for reconsideration the following year.

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Jeffrey Risman of Risman & Risman, P.C. has been selected to the 2014 Super Lawyers New York Rising Stars List

Jeffrey Risman has been selected to the 2014 New York Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com.


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