Developments in Treatment of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace can take many forms. In some cases, women may be passed over for promotion or refused accommodations simply due to their physical condition. Employers may even fire pregnant women if they complain about adverse treatment. Understanding the various aspects of discrimination against women who become pregnant can help to raise awareness for this serious issue in the working world.

Failure to Accommodate the Physical Needs of Pregnant Women

A lack of understanding regarding the needs and physical limitations of women who are pregnant can lead to real work hazards for these individuals. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 made it illegal to treat pregnant women differently than those who were unable to perform specific duties for other reasons. Women who report difficulties with their working conditions, however, are often ignored or even fired by their employers.

In general, on the federal and New York State level, if a company offers broad accommodations for those with disabilities, they must also provide similar benefits and accommodations for women who are pregnant. Transferring from a position that requires heavy lifting to a light-duty job, for example, is a required accommodation if a pregnant woman requests it. Failure to do so could result in legal liability for any injuries or other issues experienced by pregnant women on the job.

Fortunately, for New York City workers who require accommodations for pregnancy, the New York City Human Rights Law offers more expansive protections than the Federal and State counterparty, whereby employers are required to engage in active discussions regarding these requests and provide reasonable accommodations when not unduly burdensome on the company’s operations.

Trapped on the Pregnancy Plateau

One of the most insidious forms of discrimination against pregnant women is the tendency for companies to sideline these employees and to promote other individuals, usually male, to positions of responsibility within corporate organizations. Some companies and managers are forthright about the issue, commenting that women are put on the “mommy track” while men are not similarly penalized.

Proving cases of discrimination in which the woman is passed over for promotion or not included in the primary functions of the company can be difficult. As with any subjective decision, determining the real factors at play in hiring and firing decisions may not be a simple task. In corporate America, however, it is clear that women are getting the short end of the stick regarding compensation and promotions to the top levels of their companies. This phenomenon is especially real for women who choose to have children as well as careers.

Complaints on the Rise

An analysis of available wage information performed by a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts indicated that women lost an average of four percent from their hourly wages for every child they brought into the world. By contrast, the hourly wages earned by men increased by six percent after becoming fathers. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claims of pregnancy discrimination have been growing steadily for the last 20 years. In 2017, the EEOC received 3,184 complaints alleging pregnancy discrimination.

Moreover, many women fail to report these issues, however, because of lack of information regarding the legal protections available to them or because of a fear of retaliation from their employers. In some instances, they may be worried that they cannot afford an attorney to take on their case. Women who are still employed by larger corporations may also be concerned about the extensive legal resources available to their company and the adverse effects that whistleblowing could potentially have on their future careers at their current employer or elsewhere.

We Are Here to Help

The attorneys at Risman & Risman can help you ascertain whether you have experienced pregnancy discrimination or any other type of discrimination in the workplace. We can provide you with zealous and assertive representation, ensure that your rights are fully enforced and protected, and provide you with added confidence in and out of Court. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to schedule your free initial consultation. At Risman & Risman, we are committed to working for you.

Whistleblower Files Complaint Against Department of Energy for Retaliatory Firing

A Washington whistleblower is looking for a new job after he was fired for leaking photos of Secretary of Energy Rick Perry hugging an executive of a coal company and the cover sheet of an action plan. Mr. Perry met with Robert Murray, the head of Murray Energy, on March 29, 2017. Simon Edelman was employed as a photographer for the Department of Energy at the time and was present at the meeting to take photos. According to Mr. Edelman, he believed it was his duty to expose the close relationship between Mr. Murray and Mr. Perry and to refute statements made by Mr. Murray.

Disproving Previous Statements

Mr. Murray has repeatedly indicated that he had no involvement with the development of new rules for the coal industry. The photos leaked by Mr. Edelman serve as a silent refutation of these statements, showing Mr. Perry’s very close relationship. Mr. Edelman also captured a photo of the action plan shared by the two men during the March meeting. One portion of the plan visible in the photographs states, “Immediate action needs to be taken to require organized markets to value fuel security.” Some experts believe this wording is intended to promote coal over other available energy sources, even when those sources may be less expensive and less problematic for the economy.

Edelman Fired for Leaking Photos

The photographs taken by Mr. Edelman at the March 29, 2017 meeting were published by the New York TImes in December 2017. The day after they appeared, Mr. Edelman was placed on administrative leave and his personal laptop was confiscated by officials at the Department of Energy. He was later informed that his employment with the agency was over. Mr. Edelman subsequently filed a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Energy and requested the return of his laptop and other items confiscated at the time of his departure from the agency.

Protections for Whistleblowers

The website of the U.S. Department of Energy outlines the protections provided to whistleblowers under federal law. These protections apply to employees who report specific activities to their supervisor or other members of their management chain, to the Office of the Inspector General or the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Protected reported offenses include the following:

• Waste of funding
• Gross mismanagement
• Abuse of authority
• Activities that present a risk to public safety or welfare
• Violations of laws and regulations

Because Mr. Edelman did not follow the prescribed procedures for telling officials about the alleged inappropriate behavior he saw, it may be more difficult for his legal team to win in his complaint against his former employer. For those in similar situations, proactively consulting with a New York City employment lawyer can potentially prevent missteps and increase the chance of maintaining a viable whistleblower retaliation claim.

If you are concerned that particular activity in the workplace rises to the level in which your report would constitute whistleblowing, please contact a New York City employment attorney from  Risman & Risman today. We can provide you with the support and the representation you need to achieve the best possible outcome for your matter. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Further Investigation of The Weinstein Company by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

The Weinstein Company is facing further investigation by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who is currently determining whether pervasive reports of sexual harassment and misconduct on the part of Harvey Weinstein are reflective of a larger pattern of civil rights infractions and gender discrimination throughout the organization. Schneiderman has issued subpoenas for a wide array of corporate documents related to human resources and employment at the film studio.

Numerous Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

Some of the biggest names in the movie industry have come forward to tell their own stories of harassment, assault and unwanted sexual contact with Harvey Weinstein. Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Asia Argento, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the best-known actresses who have gone on the public record with their complaints about Weinstein’s behavior toward them early in their careers.

Following the Money Trail

Along with the allegations of sexual misconduct over the course of several decades, Weinstein is accused of paying off at least eight women in exchange for their silence regarding his unwanted sexual advances and harassment. If the funding for these payoffs came from the Weinstein Company’s coffers, it could be evidence that the company turned a blind eye to complaints about Weinstein’s behavior and, in fact, enabled him to continue his activities by providing its financial support.

Sexual Harassment in New York

In the state of New York, sexual harassment is considered a type of sexual discrimination and, as such, covered by both the New York Human Rights Law and Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964. While Title VII is interpreted to apply only to employers with 15 or more employees on their payrolls, the provisions of Human Rights Law apply to all employers within the state of New York regarding allegations of sexual harassment.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

Inappropriate words, actions, and environmental conditions can potentially prompt a complaint of sexual harassment. Some of the most commonly reported examples of sexual harassment include the following:

• The posting or presence of overtly sexual materials in the workplace
• Unwanted sexual advances, especially if repeated
• Unwanted touching and physical contact up to and including sexual assault
• The attempted or actual exchange of sexual favors for promotions and advantages in the workplace
• Intimidation or coercion for sexual favors
• Jokes, comments and other communications that are overtly sexual

As Weinstein’s case demonstrates, employees and clients may not always report these incidents right away because of feelings of shame or worries about how their report might affect their ability to work at the company or in the industry in the future.

Potential Consequences for the Weinstein Company

While most of the board of the Weinstein Company has already resigned, Bob Weinstein is continuing his efforts to save the film studio that he founded with his brother Harvey in 2005. The overwhelming tide of accusations of rape, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment on the part of Harvey Weinstein, however, has made it difficult to see a path forward for the beleaguered company. The added weight of the Schneiderman investigation has put even more pressure on the Weinstein Company.

If the Weinstein Company is found to have violated the Human Rights Law of New York, Attorney General Schneiderman could assess fines against the film company. The most severe damage to the company, however, has already been done in the deluge of negative publicity it has received, and the unwillingness of the film industry associated with the sexual harassment charges levied against Harvey Weinstein.

At Risman & Risman, our focus is providing our clients with the most proactive representation of all types of New York employment law issues. We can prosecute claims of sexual harassment against your employer and protect your legal rights, promoting a safer and more suitable work environment for all individuals in the workplace. To set up a free consultation, call us at 212-233-6400. The legal team at Risman & Risman will be happy to work with you to resolve these issues quickly and in the most positive way possible.

U.S. Justice Department Rules Discrimination Against LGBT Employees Is Legal under Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to extend protections for minorities in the workplace and public accommodations. One of the biggest issues surrounding this historic piece of legislation, however, is the interpretation of the term sex under the Civil Rights Act. Sex can be narrowly interpreted as gender only or in a broader sense include sexual orientation and sexual identity. On July 26, 2017, the Justice Department opted for the first interpretation and announced that it does not regard discrimination against LGBT employees as a violation of the provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

An Ongoing Discrimination Case

A lawsuit filed in 2010 by Donald Zarda asserts that his employer fired him for being gay. The U.S. government is not a part of the litigation; however, the Justice Department filed the amicus brief to bolster the current administration’s position on the matter “in its capacity as the Nation’s largest employer.”

Taking a Broader View

If the Appeals Court did rule in favor of Zarda’s position, it would continue the move toward a wider view of sex discrimination. A recent Federal Appeals Court decision stated that “it is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex,” noting that a lesbian would not face discrimination if she were a man dating women.

Pushing for a Narrow Interpretation

The Trump administration, however, has made its position on sex discrimination clear with President Trump’s recent announcement that he intends to ban transgender individuals from service with the U.S. military. If a broader construction of the sex discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act became applicable, this prohibition would constitute illegal discrimination on the part of the government itself. In this context, the federal government’s interest in the Zarda discrimination case becomes apparent.

A Step Backward

The announcement by the Justice Department puts it into direct conflict with the precedents set during the Obama presidency and with the current policies of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In recent years, court rulings and public opinion have been trending toward a broader interpretation of sex discrimination to include discriminatory acts based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Vermont, Connecticut, and New York Join Major Corporations to Support Equal Employment Opportunities for LGBT Workers

In a sweeping gesture of support for LGBT rights in the U.S., the leading legal authorities of New York, Vermont, and Connecticut have joined with companies like Microsoft and Viacom asking the Federal Appeals Court in New York to explicitly include LGBT status as a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The attorneys general of these three states have offered their own opinions in support of a broader definition of sex discrimination as defined in the legislation and are hoping for a positive outcome from the Appeals Court later this year.

Widespread Support Among Major Employers

The expansion of Title VII protections to include LGBT employees has received support from numerous companies in the New York area, and across the U.S. Google, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, and CBS are among the most famous names on the list of businesses that have signed on to this cause. Many of these companies pointed to the essential roles of diversity and inclusiveness in creating a productive and profitable work environment.

Support from the EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a brief in support of sexual orientation as a protected class. “…an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on that employee’s sexual orientation without taking the employee’s sex into account – precisely what Title VII forbids.” The EEOC has long held that discrimination motivated by sexual orientation animus is prohibited and has acted to protect the rights of LGBT individuals against unfair treatment by employers.

Potential for Supreme Court Involvement

The case in question is Zarda v. Altitude Express, concerns the firing of Donald Zarda because of his sexual orientation. Oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit commence on September 26, 2017. The case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court for a final determination of the protections afforded to LGBT people in the workplace.

For those who have experienced discrimination in the workplace, finding the right approach can have a significant impact on the outcomes both in and out of the courtroom setting. The employment law experts at Risman & Risman can provide you with the right solutions to resolve your case and to ensure that you receive the best representation possible. Give us a call at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free consultation with our team of experienced and knowledgeable attorneys. At Risman & Risman, we work for you.

Manhattan Court of Appeals to Consider Expanding Title VII Protections to LGBT Workers

The attorneys general of three states have joined the fight against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Vermont, Connecticut, and New York have added their support to that of 50 major companies across the U.S. in asking a federal appeals court to extend the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to workers discriminated against because of their LGBT status. Currently, employees can be passed over for promotion or even fired for their sexual orientation with no recourse under the provisions of Title VII. A ruling in favor of expanding the enumerated protections of the law to include persons who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender would be a significant step forward in protecting the rights of all workers.

Major Corporations on Board with Expanding Protections

Among the 50 companies that have signed on to support the expansion of Title VII are such luminaries as CBS, Viacom, Google, Microsoft and Levi Strauss. Sexual orientation is a protected class in 20 of the 50 states as well as in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. The state of New York enacted the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in 2002, which prohibits discrimination against LGBT workers. The filing currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit could potentially result in a precedent that would ensure equal rights in the workplace for LGBT employees across the nation.

Does Sex Include Sexual Orientation?

While the protections afforded by Title VII explicitly list gender as a class this legislation covers, the crux of the question before the court seems to focus around whether sexual orientation is a subset of sex for purposes of discrimination. The law currently prohibits discrimination in employment based on sex, religious views, race, color and country of origin. If sexual orientation is included in that list, it could provide added protections for those who might otherwise experience discrimination because of their LGBT status.

Types of Discrimination

Title VII prohibits discrimination in job assignments, pay rates, hiring, firing, layoffs, fringe benefits, educational benefits and all other benefits typically accorded to employees in a particular company. It also encompasses sexual harassment cases involving verbal or physical misconduct. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has acted on behalf of LGBT workers who claimed discrimination based on their sexual orientation or identity. In the legal system, however, the results have not been as universally favorable.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is set to hear arguments starting in September 2017. For New York workers who feel they have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, sexual identity or any other protected status under Title VII, contacting a law firm that specializes in these issues can provide added help and support in defending their rights. Risman & Risman are the proven leaders in New York employment litigation and can help protect your rights both in and out of the courtroom setting. Call us at 212-233-6400 to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to the chance to serve you.

New Interpretation of Title VII Could Expand Protections for Workers

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently announced a ruling that may represent a shift in the way Title VII cases are addressed in the future. In Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, the appeals court found that discrimination based on sexual orientation was actionable under Title VII and was, in fact, “a subset of actions taken on the basis of sex.” This finding represents a significant break with previous interpretations of Title VII protections and may lead to review by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Alleged Employment Discrimination

The plaintiff in the original case, Kimberly Hively, first filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December 2013. In her filed documents, she indicated that she had applied for at least six full-time positions with Ivy Tech Community College between 2009 and 2014. During that time, she worked part-time as an adjunct professor for the institution and was openly lesbian. It was Ms. Hively’s contention that the community college had discriminated against her based on her sexual orientation. She was terminated from her employment with Ivy Tech in July 2014.

Prior Court Cases Decided Differently

The appeals court noted that previous decisions, including Hamner v. St. Vincent Hosp. and Health Care Ctr., Inc. in 2000 and Ulane v. Eastern Airlines, Inc. in 1984, had made a distinction between discrimination based on gender and discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Seventh Circuit, however, found that gender stereotypes could be grounds for Title VII charges and noted that the act of being lesbian, gay or bisexual could be seen as failing to comply with gender stereotypes. The court also indicated that the recent Supreme Court decision allowing gay couples to marry had an impact on their ruling as well.

Case Remanded Back to District Court

The Seventh Circuit Appeals Court reversed the original district court dismissal of the charges and remanded the case for further proceedings. The appeals court further went on to state that, in its view, discrimination based on sexual orientation is in fact a form of sex discrimination. A representative of Ivy Tech has made a statement indicating that it does not intend to pursue an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The educational institution, however, does contest the claim made by Ms. Hively that she was discriminated against during her tenure with Ivy Tech and intends to challenge the matter on a factual basis.

For those who may have been the victim of discrimination in the workplace, seeking the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can be a solid first step toward protecting legal rights and ensuring fair compensation for these issues. The New York City employment law experts at Risman & Risman can provide professional legal guidance and representation to ensure the best possible outcomes for your case. Call 212-233-6400 today to schedule a free consultation with the dedicated lawyers at Risman & Risman. We’re here to serve you.

Negative Changes May Be Coming for Class Action Lawsuits in the U.S

A bill currently making its way through the U.S. Congress could change the legal landscape for plaintiffs in personal injury and malpractice cases. Known as the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, it was passed by a margin of 220 to 201 in the House of Representatives and is likely to reach the Senate soon. Along with the provisions intended to limit the ability of individuals to recover damages, the action also requires trusts that administer payments to asbestos victims to publish the names and addresses of these recipients on a quarterly basis.

Limiting the Ability of Consumers to Collect Damages

The primary focus of the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act is to restrict the ability of individuals to qualify to take part in a class action lawsuit. In essence, the provisions of the Act require that each participant proves that he or she has the same degree of injuries as all others accepted to the class. This is nearly impossible to establish in some cases.

• For example, car accidents caused by a manufacturing defect can cause a broad range of injuries that can be tough to compare.
• Pharmaceutical products can cause different and varied medical issues for patients using the same drug at the same dosage.

The Act also includes provisions that will reduce the ability of attorneys to collect on settlements achieved through the class action process. Proponents of the bill argue that the current system allows too many individuals with only minor claims or claims that skew the damages much higher for all parties to the class action. Opponents, on the other hand, note that the new requirements will make it much harder for class actions to attract the number of plaintiffs needed to take on corporate wrongdoers.

Veterans Groups Object to FACT Act

At least 18 veterans’ groups have come out against the FACT Act, noting that it will release personally identifiable information about veterans who have been harmed by asbestos and who receive payments for these injuries. By publishing their names, addresses and a portion of their Social Security numbers every quarter, the FACT Act will potentially increase the vulnerability of those negatively affected by asbestos exposure. Since many of those who receive payments as a result of these exposures are veterans, this could present a serious issue for individuals who served the U.S. with honor in the past.

The bill must still go through the process of Senate approval before being signed into law. For those who have are injured in accidents caused by the negligence of corporate entities, seeking help from a qualified legal team can provide the support needed to participate in a class action suit against these corporations. At Risman & Risman, we focus on providing residents of New York with the most comprehensive employment law and anti-discrimination representation services. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to set up a free consultation. We look forward to the chance to serve your legal needs.

Allegations of Sexual Harassment Stain Reputation of Sterling Jewelry

Sexual harassment is an issue that can severely affect the public image and the profitability of any company. One of the largest and most profitable jewelry firms in the U.S., Sterling Jewelry, recently learned this lesson in a dramatic and public way. The parent company of Kay Jewelers® and Jared® the Galleria of Jewelry is currently facing a private class-action case that alleges a general atmosphere of sexual discrimination and harassment endemic throughout the organization.

Thousands of Employees Affected

The arbitration initially filed in 2008 by a relatively small group of women. It now encompasses the claims of 69,000 women and men who have signed on to the arbitration case since that time. The statements provided by these individuals include some disturbing allegations:

• Members of management allegedly solicited sexual favors as a condition of receiving raises or promotions.
• Stores under the Sterling Jewelry umbrella were scouted by managers at the company to identify women employees considered attractive.
• Inappropriate comments were made about women’s bodies in the workplace.
• Women were routinely paid less than their male colleagues, and men were promoted in preference to more qualified and experienced women in the workplace.
• Blatant sexual overtures and physical contact with female managers occurred regularly at the Sterling Jewelry annual managers meeting. No spouses were invited to attend this event.
• One employee reported that when she attempted to report unwanted sexual advances to the company, she was falsely accused of theft and terminated from her position.

Sterling Jewelry has denied these charges, insisting that the company has measures in place to address any complaints of sexual discrimination or harassment and that these steps have been used effectively to deal with any allegations of misconduct.

An Atmosphere of Secrecy

The employment agreement signed by staff members at Sterling Jewelry precludes the settling of work-related disputes in public courts. These cases must commence at arbitration, which virtually guarantees that both the accusations and the outcomes will remain safely away from the public eye. The release of documents relating to the case was negotiated over more than a year between reporters at the Washington Post, attorneys representing the complainants in the case and the legal team at Sterling Jewelry. It is still not clear why the arbitration has taken so long to resolve.

Damage to Corporate Reputation

Regardless of the eventual outcome of the arbitration case, the release of the sworn statements of some former and current employees has likely done permanent damage to the Sterling Jewelry brand as well as to its subsidiary companies. Since many of the customers in the jewelry industry are women, the public airing of these accusations is likely to have a lasting negative effect on sales for the companies under the Sterling Jewelry umbrella.

If you have been the victim of unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment in the workplace, the legal team at Risman & Risman can provide you with the help you need to pursue your case in court. We will work with you to determine the most effective strategies to protect your legal rights and hold companies accountable for their actions. Call us at 212-233-6400 to set up a free consultation. We’re here to help.

How to Navigate Minimum Wage Law in the State of New York

Changes enacted in the state of New York have already raised minimum wages for workers in our area and are expected to have a significant impact on local and statewide economic conditions in 2017 and beyond. On December 31, 2016, increases signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo increased minimum wages throughout the state to $9.70 per hour.

Some Localities See Even Greater Changes

The plan instituted by Governor Cuomo includes some specific changes for municipalities and regions within New York State.  Long Island and Westchester County have both raised the minimum wage to $10 per hour.  In New York City, the minimum wage was increased to $11 per hour.  Employees of small businesses in the Big Apple, however, will see a slightly smaller increase; the minimum wage for these employees is $10.50 per hour.

Higher than the National Minimum

Since July 2009, the federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 per hour. The states, however, can set higher minimum wages than this federally mandated wage floor.  The high cost of living in certain urban areas may spur legislation to increase these wage rates in some area.

Some Employees Not Eligible for Minimum Wage

Waiters, hostesses and certain other service personnel who make a significant portion of their income from tips are generally exempted from the federal and state minimum wage requirements and can be paid a significantly lower amount per hour.  If these employees do not receive adequate tips to compensate for the lower wage, however, the employer may be required to make up the difference to ensure a minimum wage for staff members.

Federal Contractors Entitled to a Higher Minimum Wage

Recent legislation enacted by the Department of Labor requires that employees of companies that hold federal contracts must be paid a higher minimum wage, which currently is set at $10.20 per hour. These new minimum wage regulations went into effect at the start of 2017.

At Risman & Risman, we provide the most comprehensive employment law services in New York. If you have been underpaid by your employer, we can provide you with the assertive and effective representation you need to achieve fair compensation. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to set up your free initial consultation. We look forward to the chance to serve your legal needs.


Why is Bagatelle In Hot Water That’s Not Intended for Cooking?

Amid allegations that people of color and those who did not meet certain standards of beauty were placed at undesirable tables at the Bagatelle club and restaurant in New York, the company is now facing a discrimination lawsuit from two of its own employees. The allegations outlined in the lawsuit include the following:

• French employees were given preferential treatment when hours and tables were assigned.
• Non-French employees were subjected to verbal and sexual harassment.
• African-American customers were often required to wait much longer than other customers to get a table and were given less desirable locations within the restaurant.

The suit was filed by a current server and a former server at Bagatelle.

An Alleged Pattern of Racial Discrimination

According to the two plaintiffs, Bagatelle had established codes that were used on reservations and bills to identify customers they found undesirable:

• The code DNA stood for “Do Not Accommodate” and was used to mark bills and reservations made by minorities.
• BO was also used to identify customers deemed ugly by management or other staff members.

The suit also alleges that unwanted customers were then placed at Table 157. The table, located at the back, was out of sight of most of the rest of the restaurant and was referred to as the Ghetto Station by employees of Bagatelle. In some cases, patrons of the restaurant who sat at this table might be forced to sit two to a chair to accommodate the size of their dining party.

Bagatelle’s Response

Bagatelle is denying these charges and has issued a statement that reads, in part: “We do not seat patrons based on their race or tolerate discrimination on any basis. While we don’t comment on pending litigation, we intend to defend ourselves and look forward to clearing our name in this matter.”

To learn more about discrimination in the workplace, call the attorneys of Risman & Risman at 212-233-6400. You can view the entire story at