Full 5th Circ. To Examine Employer-Friendly Title VII Rule

The family behind a massive Brooklyn Navy Yards film studio complex stands accused of stiffing local partners out of $50 million in profits, a new lawsuit contends.

Steiner Studios — where films such as Steven Spielberg’s”West Side Story” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick Tick Boom!” were filmed — has been named in a civil suit filed by a group of local entrepreneurs who says they developed the complex then were cut out of profits, court records show.

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Brooklyn Movie Studio Shut Out $50M Profits From Partners

The family behind a massive Brooklyn Navy Yards film studio complex stands accused of stiffing local partners out of $50 million in profits, a new lawsuit contends.

Steiner Studios — where films such as Steven Spielberg’s”West Side Story” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick Tick Boom!” were filmed — has been named in a civil suit filed by a group of local entrepreneurs who says they developed the complex then were cut out of profits, court records show.

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SB7848A Increases Worker’s Ability to Bring Claims of Sexual Harassment to Court

workplace harassment formBy Shaloni Pinto and Aimee Christianson
{Read in 4 minutes}  With the passage of New York Senate Bill 7848A, the state will make it easier for workers to bring sexual harassment claims to court. Aimed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, the bill will amend the general business law to limit the coverage of mandatory arbitration clauses in relation to sexual harassment and will also amend the labor law to promote the prevention of sexual harassment.Continue reading

Babb v. Wilkie – The ADEA and Federal Employees Over Forty

Babb v. Wilkie - The ADEA and Federal Employees Over FortyBy Shaloni Pinto and Aimee Christianson
{Read in 4 minutes}  Ms. Norris Babb alleges that her employer, the Department of Veterans Affairs, denied her advancement opportunities due to her age and gender, and retaliated against her after she filed complaints about the issue. If Ms. Babb was an employee in the private sector, she would have to test these allegations against the tried-and-true standards set by court precedent. Ms. Babb, however, is a federal employee, and the courts do not have a clear standard about how she can prove her age discrimination claim.
The federal-sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §633a(a), states that any personnel actions which affect agency employees forty or older must be free from age discrimination. The “free from” wording within the law is unique to the provisions of the federal sector. The Court will answer whether a federal employee has to prove that an action was discriminatory but for her age.
Unlike public employers, private employers cannot make decisions “because of” an employee’s protected class. Both Congress and the courts have deliberated and set precedents on the standard a plaintiff must use to have a valid claim of employment discrimination. Employees in the private sector can either use the “but-for” standard or the motivating factor standard to confirm their allegations of employment discrimination. A motivating factor standard is lenient; it only requires the plaintiff to show that bias relating to their protected class influenced their employers.
Let’s examine Ms. Babb’s case to illustrate the difference between the “but-for” and “motivating factor” standard.

  • If the Court holds that federal employees under the ADEA must use the “but-for” standard, then Ms. Babb will have to prove that she would have been promoted, if not for her age. 
  • Whereas if Ms. Babb used the motivating factor standard, she would have to prove that her age was a factor within a list of other factors that the employer used to deny her opportunities for advancement.

The “but-for” standard is stricter because Ms. Babb (as a plaintiff) must investigate the motivations of the employer and put forth an explanation that ties the other party’s decision-making to the age factor.
While the federal government has argued for the stricter “but-for” interpretation, Plaintiff Babb argues that the motivating factor standard should extend to federal employees. Now, the Court must decide whether federal employees have to abide by the stricter “but-for” standard or whether a motivating factor standard is permissible.
The circuit courts have given conflicting rulings on the issue. The DC Court of Appeals has held that the motivating factor is a valid standard for federal employees. Agencies like The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charged to enforce the ADEA, have followed this precedent. Yet, other federal appeals courts like the Ninth and Eleventh Circuit have adhered to a stricter standard, holding that the “but-for” causation is the only way to allege age discrimination as a federal sector employee. Thus, this decision by the Supreme Court will resolve the conflicts among the circuit court of appeals and decide whether federal employees over forty need to adhere to a strict standard when alleging age discrimination. 
Reference: Babb v. Wilkie, 2019 U.S. LEXIS 4444

Wage and Hour Litigation: Are You Being Paid What You Deserve?

Wage and Hour Litigation: Are You Being Paid What You Deserve? by Robert J. Valli, Jr.

Wage and Hour Litigation: Are You Being Paid What You Deserve? by Robert J. Valli, Jr.
{6 minutes to read}  In addition to employment discrimination the firm practices wage and hour litigation. Wage and hour litigation is mostly comprised of two separate violations, minimum wage and overtime.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL) delineate the rules for employers regarding paying Minimum Wage and Overtime.Continue reading

Supervisor sues Omni hotels, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation when she reported it

A former supervisor with Omni Hotels & Resorts has filed suit against the Dallas-based company, alleging sexual harassment and saying the company broke federal laws governing equal pay.Continue reading

Let the Mother Beware: Pregnancy in the Workplace

Seal of the United States Equal Employment Opp...
Seal of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is somewhat hard to believe in this day and age that women experiencing pregnancy in the workplace are still being subjected to workplace policies that put their livelihood in jeopardy. Despite federal laws dating back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and several updates and addendums, there are still employers in the United States that have written policies that terminate workers due to pregnancy, regardless of the ability to perform that job’s duties and the overall physical capabilities of the workers.
A recent case in point was brought by the EEOC against a Baytown, Texas, restaurant chain called Bayou City Wings. Acting on behalf of a former employee named Maryann Castillo and eight other dismissed workers, the EEOC claimed that Bayou City Wings, and its parent company, JC Wings Enterprises, LLC, operated with a discriminatory policy against their workers who were experiencing pregnancy in the workplace. Their written policy mandated laying off workers after their third month of pregnancy, regardless of the employees’ desire and ability to stay on the job. In this case, Castillo was not experiencing any difficulties performing her job duties and had received approval from her doctor to work up to her 36th week of pregnancy.
Despite the honorable desire of the employer to take responsibility for the well-being of the unborn babies in these cases, it is important to note that the law and previous Supreme Court cases have determined that it is not the responsibility of employers to make decisions to protect the well-being of the unborn children of their employees, but rather the sole responsibility of the mothers involved. For employers, this could be a release of guilt if a mother’s decision to work jeopardizes her unborn child. The true benefit for this is that the women carrying their children should be able to have control over what they can or cannot do, without the arbitrary decisions of companies that are driven by the bottom line.
The EEOC cannot be the only protector of these cases of injustice and discrimination in the workplace. It is important for all employees, and especially women, to know their rights in a situation where they are facing a pregnancy in the workplace. Under the laws of this country, mothers-to-be are protected and have the law on their side. The Law offices of Valli, Kane, and Vagnini are specially equipped to help any victim of this or any other kind of discrimination in the workplace. Contact them for a free consultation to make sure that your rights are protected.

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Employment Discrimination-Know Your Rights

Discrimination in the workplace may be difficult to define but when it occurs, you should be aware and ready to take action. Under no circumstance is employment discrimination okay. It is important to know what qualifies as unfair and what factors you should consider before filing a lawsuit against an employer. Understanding employment discrimination in the workplace is vital when it comes to knowing what you must do if it ever happens to you.
So What Exactly is Employment Discrimination?
Employment discrimination occurs when a job seeker or an employee is treated unfavorably or unfairly because of his/her race, skin color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, genetic information etc. Workplace discrimination also extends beyond hiring and firing, for example, suggesting preferred candidates in a job ad, denying certain employees benefits or compensation, and discrimination while issuing promotions and lay-offs. There are many more different forms of employment discrimination and laws to protect employees. Listed below are some of the most common cases:
Racial Discrimination – Racial Discrimination takes place when a potential employee, employee or a group of employees are treated differently or unfairly based on their race or because of characteristics associated with race including facial features, hair, or color of their skin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination based on race as well as color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
Age Discrimination – Age Discrimination comes about when an employee is treated in an unfair manner because of their age, for example, being treated poorly because you are ‘too old’. The Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees who are 40 years old and older. In addition, under the NYHRL, Section 3-a, it states that it is unlawful for any employer to refuse employment or compensation to any person 18 years old and older because of their age.
Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Hostile Workplace Discrimination

  • Equal Pay-Gender discrimination includes sexual discrimination and/or sex-based discrimination. This occurs when any employer treats an employee in an unfair way or inequitable manner based merely on gender. This includes equal pay for men and women which is federally protected under the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
  • Sexual Orientation-Sexual Orientation discrimination also falls under this category when being homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or trans gendered impacts the way you are treated in the workplace or during the recruiting process. This kind of discrimination is protected under the Civil Rights Act and would be further be protected in a bill that is still awaiting passage by congress called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
  • Sex/Hostile Work Environment– Also protected under the Civil Rights Act, Sex/Hostile Work Environment is discrimination based in a sexual hostile environment. The “hostile environment” law also applies to harassment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, age, and disability.

National Origin & Religion Discrimination – Our country is widely mixed with people from different parts around the globe. National Origin discrimination occurs when an employee is ignored and/or treated poorly because of his or her accent, nationality, or ethnicity. Companies are required to fairly accommodate an employee’s religious and cultural beliefs as long as they don’t negatively interfere with the workplace environment. This act of discrimination is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Disability Discrimination- The Disability Discrimination Act focuses on the specific needs of the blind, partially blind, physically or mentally handicapped or people with disabilities. Disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) as a physical or mental impairment that considerably limits a major life activity. Discrimination includes denying employment opportunities to people who are disabled but qualify for the position or not accommodating the known physical/mental limitations of disabled employees
Pregnancy Discrimination-There are laws that protect pregnant women and people with disabilities under the Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions must be treated in the same way as other temporary illnesses or conditions. Additional rights are available to women and others under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.
If you feel you may be a victim of employment discrimination, let us help you protect your rights. Call the Law Offices of Valli, Kane & Vagnini today for a free consultation.