Bovitz v. Wells Fargo – A Discrimination Lawsuit

{Read in 2:30 minutes}  Bovitz v. Wells Fargo - A Discrimination Lawsuit by Monica HinckenImagine dedicating almost 35 years to the financial industry. You work hard. You are successful. You build an impressive book of business. And yet, you are continuously hindered from reaching your potential – not because you are not qualified, because you are; not because you do not have the necessary experience, because you do.  You are passed over because you are an older woman. Our client, Judith A. Bovitz, who is 69 years old, has been experiencing this for years. After every step taken to remedy the situation internally failed, she filed a Federal Lawsuit last month against Wells Fargo Advisors (“Wells Fargo” or the “Company”).Continue reading

Employer Discrimination by Disparate Impact

Employer Discrimination by Disparate Impact by Robert J. Valli
{Read in 3:30 minutes}  In my last article, I discussed a pattern of discrimination in terms of the disparate impact on African Americans. But what does “disparate impact” mean?  In 1971 the Supreme Court adopted the position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). In Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971), the Court invalidated an employer’s requirement that applicants have a high school diploma and/or pass aptitude tests for hire and transfer into more desirable departments where prior to the enactment of Title VII the company had restricted blacks to labor positions. Specifically, the Court stated:

The Act proscribes not only overt discrimination, but also practices that are fair in form but discriminatory in operation. The touchstone is business necessity. If an employment practice which operates to exclude [blacks] cannot be shown to be related to job performance, the practice is prohibited . . . Congress directed the thrust of the Act to the consequences of employment practices, not simply the motivation.Continue reading

Fire Department Discrimination Against African American Non-Firefighter Employees

Fire Department Discrimination Against African American Non-Firefighter Employees by James Vagnini{Read in 2:30 minutes} The New York City Fire Department is filled with extremely brave men and women, some out in the field and many behind the scenes. While there is certainly a long and illustrious history of dedication and incredible courage, unfortunately over the years there have also been repeated allegations of racial discrimination. As recently as 2014, the city agreed to pay $98 million to settle what is known as the “Vulcan” case to address allegations of racial bias against New York City Firefighters.  Now, in a federal lawsuit, our firm, Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP and Washington D.C. based Mehri & Skalet filed on behalf of civilian workers of the FDNY and a federal judge ruled that the case can move forward.Continue reading

Workplace Discrimination? Get that Complaint Filed!

Employees in this country have protections against workplace discrimination and harassment. These include protection from sexual or racial harassment, national origin, religion, age, disability, and gender (including sexual orientation) discrimination. These forms of harassment and discrimination are spelled out under Title VII, and its amendments, which is the statute enacted as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Workplace Discrimination? Get that Complaint Filed!
Prior to that time, there had been other federal statutes such as §1981 and §1983 which address primarily race and national origin discrimination as well as retaliation. These sections, however, did not include gender, religion, disability, or age discrimination. As a result of the civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act was passed, which was designed to specifically address workplace discrimination and expanded protections for employees subjected to these additional types of discrimination.
The Title VII statute empowered what is known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and created that faction of the government whose job it is to survey and take complaints of workplace discrimination. Anyone wanting to bring a complaint and go into Federal court under those claims has to first go through the EEOC administrative process. As a federal statute, it is the same in every state and any employer who has 15 employees or more is subject to the statute.
The EEOC Filing Deadline
Title VII sets a complaint filing deadline of 180 calendar days. However, it also provides that in any state where there is a similar employment discrimination statute, such as New York, the deadline may be expanded to 300 days. With the exception of a few states like New Mexico and Georgia, every state in this country has a state-level statute against workplace discrimination. In those states that do not, the filing period is limited to the 180 days.
A complaint must be initiated when the harm takes place. You can’t have something happen two years earlier and then wait, worrying whether you are going to lose your job. That is certainly a legitimate worry, but if you choose to wait and try to raise that complaint after the 180-300 days have passed, it will be considered untimely because the statute requires you to make that complaint within 180-300 days of the occurrence of discrimination.
However, certain claims trigger the 180-300 day filing requirement after the last occurrence of discrimination where the discrimination takes place over a period of time. This type of discrimination is known as a “continuous violation.” For example, if you are a victim of sexual harassment and you were subjected to repeated, unwanted sexual advances or comments over a period of months, the clock starts running from the last act of harassment, not the first. Most employees do not know this.
If you believe you have a legitimate complaint, it is extremely important that you make use of resources like the EEOC’s website, or contact a lawyer like us to ask for information about what to do, even if you choose not to act on it at that time. Failing to act in many states leaves you high and dry, without any other protection, because either there is no state statute, or in more conservative jurisdictions like Texas, for example, the states only adopt the same 180-day rule as Title VII.
Paying attention to the EEOC deadlines is an important issue because an employee may have a very strong legal claim but if they do not act within a certain period of time, or get the information to act within a certain period of time, their claim may be completely barred leaving you with no avenue for justice.
James A. Vagnini
Partner
email: jvagnini@vkvlawyers.com
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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.

Augusta Golf Club Opens Its Doors to Women

gender discrimination Quietly and confidently, IBM has stood up for social change and progress. The company is supportive of same sex unions, especially in famously homophobic areas of the world like North Korea. The powerful corporation was key in instituting racial diversity in its workforce long before it was politically or culturally popular, its Equal Opportunity Policy remaining virtually unchanged since 1953. International Business Machines has been a strong proponent in putting women in places of power. One of the lead designers on the original IBM PC—which, along with the automobile and airplane stands as one of the greatest consumer inventions of the 20th century—was female.
While the company’s reputation as a computing powerhouse has been overshadowed by Microsoft and then Apple in the past twenty years (IBM left the personal computing almost a decade ago), it remains a singular voice in computing, and in progressive social policy.
IBM’s voice got even louder back in April. IBM has been a longtime sponsor of golf’s Masters Tournament, held at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The Club has always admitted IBM executives as members—until IBM hired its first female CEO, Ginni Rometty, in January 2012. Many thought that the Club should admit Rometty as a member, finally divesting itself of its historically male-only policy. The Club refused, garnering a media firestorm and threats to IBM’s sponsorship of the Masters. The Augusta was famously silent in defending its policies—until today.
Women admitted to the Augusta National Golf Club
In an about-face, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and high-octane businesswoman Darla Moore, were admitted as the first two women to be granted membership to the August Club. Strangely enough, the Club has made no decision as of yet to admit Ginni Rometty (IBM continues to sponsor the Masters).
Golf and Social Progress
The Augusta Club’s longstanding sexist policies symbolize one of the ugly truths about golf: it is the United States’ least progressive sport. During Tiger Woods’ peak in the late 1990s, some clubs decided to admit minority members for the first time—a full thirty-five years after Alabama schools were integrated. As much as the PGA touts its progressive policies, golf remains glaringly behind the curve in terms of social progress.
Is It Legal for Golf Clubs to Discriminate?
The Augusta National Golf Club’s policy of not admitting women is, according to U.S. law, legal and legitimate. However, in many segments of our national culture, especially the workplace, discrimination is highly illegal. If you feel you have been discriminated against due to gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious belief, call the Law Offices of Valli, Kane and Vagnini to speak with a trained professional.

Does Lack of State Level Prohibition Allow Discrimination in Texas?

Texas civil rights and discrimination attorneys point out areas in the law where Texas civil rights and discrimination protection falls through the cracks. Discrimination may have different motivations such as race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation and disability. Texans are not all protected equally when it comes to civil rights violations and protection from discrimination. Examples include:
Public Accommodations
gender discrimination texasMost people agree that public accommodations should be free from policies that discriminate. Texas has no statewide law prohibiting such discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical handicap. Some local governments have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination in public places. This has resulted in confusion as to what is legal from one municipality to the next. Texas civil rights and discrimination attorneys claim this highlights the need for statewide legislation.
 
Discrimination in the Workplace
workplace discrimination texasAccording to state law in Texas, civil rights in the workplace exist in many areas including employees’ race, age, gender, religion, national origin or disability. However, Texas civil rights and discrimination state law does not extent to sexual orientation. Texas civil rights and discrimination attorneys maintain that policies that favor non-discrimination are good business.
Discrimination in Education
education discrimination texasAccording to Texas civil rights and discrimination laws there are no specific prohibitions stopping a public educational institution from discriminating on account of race, ethnicity, color, gender, disability, sexual orientation, disability, religion or national origin of the student or the parent of the student. There are laws in place prohibiting student on student harassment covered under bullying codes. However, there are no similar laws covering discrimination and harassment originating from employees of the educational institution.
Discrimination from Insurance Companies
employment discrimination texasInsurance companies are prohibited from discrimination because of race, ethnicity, color, gender, disability, marital status, disability, religion, geographic location or national origin. However, Texas civil rights and discrimination laws make no provision for the prohibition based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. This discrimination can take form of higher rates, refusal to insure, limited coverage, extent of coverage and nature of coverage.
Since in Texas, civil rights and discrimination protection does no extent to sexual orientation and transgender people when it comes to insurance coverage, many insurance companies deny coverage for procedures related to transgender and sexual orientation issues.  Many are refused coverage for procedures because of their transgender and sexual orientation status and are required to put off the procedure or pay for it out of pocket when it should have covered by the insurance premium to begin with.

Have You Been Discriminated Against at Work?

new york employment attorneyIt is one thing to convince yourself that it was unjust that you lost your job. Self-justification is one of the strongest human drives. It is tough thing to admit that maybe your performance was not up to par. It is another thing to think that an employer fired you for illegal reasons such as discrimination.
A team of New York discrimination attorneys point out that if you were fired for illegal reasons, you may be able to sue the employer for compensation, for other related losses and to prevent them from doing this to other employees. These same New York discrimination attorneys say that employees need to learn their rights.
Know Your Rights
new york discrimination attorneysUnder federal law and, as New York discrimination attorneys will inform you, under New York law, you cannot be terminated or suffer any adverse employment action because of race discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, disability discrimination, age discrimination, discrimination due to sexual orientation, discrimination due to gender or discrimination due to membership in any protected group. If you believe that you have been fired, demoted or overlooked for a promotion as a result of discrimination and you are in the area, contact New York discrimination attorneys to discuss you options.
Employer Retaliation
Employers have been known to fire employees for simply mentioning perceived discrimination or complaining about discrimination. If an employer has done any of this, they have broken the law. Complaining about discrimination in the workplace is your right and should be able to talk about it without fear of being terminated.
Whistleblower Revenge
whistleblower attorneysIf you have reported discrimination, threatening behavior or illegal behavior by your employer and have been fired or retaliated against, you may want to explore your legal options. If you are in the area, call you New York discrimination attorneys to schedule a consultation.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
If you believe your employer illegally discriminated against you as an employee, you can proceed to bring charges against the employer without an attorney. The process is very involved. It can be confusing and quite overwhelming. You can be reasonably certain that when you bring charges, you will be confronted by the employer’s attorneys. Since the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the job discrimination laws, sometimes the person who brings the charge is under the mistaken impression that the EEOC is in their corner and will help them with their case. In fact, the EEOC’s job is to investigate the charge and be neutral in their finding of facts. It is wise to seek council. If you are in the area, contact your New York discrimination attorneys who can help you in drafting and submitting your discrimination charge.

Are you protected from discrimination on an Indian Reservation?

Broadly speaking, federal protections against discrimination in the workplace serve Americans living in all 50 states. However, discrimination rules can be quite different if that discrimination took place on an Indian reservation. Many of these reservations exist as entities separate from the states, pursuant to federal law and treaties between the reservation and the federal government. As a result, victims of workplace discrimination on reservations often have to go through a different process in order to seek recourse.
While Congress does have the power to create and enforce federal law on Indian reservations, Congress also has the power to exempt Indian reservations from those same laws. For example, Indian reservations are exempt from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These two acts combined comprise main sources of federal law governing race, gender, and disability discrimination in the workplace.
However, if you are a victim of discrimination on an Indian reservation, you may still have recourse. Some reservations voluntarily allow themselves to be regulated by the federal statutes from which they would otherwise be exempt, and even more reservations enter into agreements with the states in which they reside and voluntarily subject themselves to applicable state law protections for workers. You’re starting point, and best bet for a favorable outcome regarding your discrimination claim, is to become familiar with the constitution and laws of your particular reservation; see what, if any, local reservation laws have been violated; and investigate what administrative and judicial venues exist under reservation law. Often, a reservation will have its own administrative and judicial systems, with investigators, judges, and other judicial officials, to resolve employment disputes.