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Choate, the elite boarding school, has acknowledged a pattern of sexual abuse of its students by former teachers dating to the 1960s

Posted in Sexual Harassment on April 14, 2017

Choate Rosemary Hall, an elite boarding school in Wallingford, Conn., acknowledged decades of sexual abuse by former teachers against the students entrusted to their care in a report on Thursday.
The report, written for the board of trustees by an investigator at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, documented the actions of at least 12 former faculty members, beginning in the 1960s and into the 2010s. The claims of abuse include instances of “intimate kissing,” “sexual intercourse” and “forced or coerced intercourse.”
The report said that no current faculty members were implicated in abuse and that there were no reports relating to current students. In some cases, administrators had written letters of recommendation for teachers who resigned after being confronted with evidence of misconduct.

Read more…

Shocking Allegations of Sexual Harassment at Major U.S. Companies

Posted in Sexual Harassment on March 15, 2017

Women UniteSexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem, even today. Many victims have come forward reporting discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation issues in big companies such as Sterling Jewelers and Uber just this month. Hundreds of former employees have reported that the corporate culture at these companies, as presided over by top executives, not only fostered sexual harassment and discrimination, but also a fear of reporting and additional harassment.

Sterling Jewelers (Kay and Jared Jewelry)

Because Sterling, like many other corporate employers, requires any and all employees to waive their right to bring employer-related disputes in public courts, 250 women filed a class action (private arbitration) case alleging that they were regularly groped, demeaned, and urged to provide sexual favors for their bosses in order to keep their jobs throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Originally filed in 2008, the case is still unresolved and building , and now includes close to 70,000 women, all current or former employees of Sterling.

Documents associated with the case were only just released, and the allegations are nothing short of horrifying: They include top male managers scouting stores to target female employees they wanted to have sexual relations with; female subordinates pushed into sex in exchange for promises of better jobs or higher pay; and additional wage violations entirely unlinked to sexual impropriety. It gets even worse: The company’s annual manager meetings were described as “sex-fests,” where attendance was mandatory, spouses were not allowed, and women were regularly groped, grabbed, and harassed. Many women dreaded going to mandatory meetings, describing that they were viewed and treated as “meat, being shopped.” Former employees who reported abuse or sought help were allegedly terminated and some were also falsely accused of crimes.

Claimants are now seeking punitive damages and years of back pay. If the company loses the case, it is projected to have to pay significant and substantial damages.

Uber

Recent allegations against harassment at Uber indicate that not only are harassment and obstacles to reporting it present in the company’s workplace, but online trolls and victim-blaming behavior from the Human Resources department are rampant. It has become such an issue that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is now leading an investigation into the claims, many of which involve online harassment.

The Uber case shows us that some people view sexual harassment as something that can only take place in-person, and not online. However, the internet has become inextricably involved in out everyday, offline lives. Companies must have an enforceable code of conduct in place to prevent such behavior.

New York Attorneys Fighting Workplace Harassment

Blaming the victim is never ok. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment, or any other form of harassment, in the workplace, contact an attorney to fight for you.

With over 20 years of experience and a strong focus on sexual harassment cases, our team of attorneys are here to help you obtain justice. Contact us today at 212-JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free consultation, and we will get started helping you.

Forced Arbitration Agreements, Employment Disputes, and Secrecy

Posted in Sexual Harassment on March 1, 2017

business office secretMany people saw the recent New York Times op-ed by Gretchen Carlson, who recently filed a lawsuit against former Fox CEO Roger Ailes alleging sexual harassment in the workplace. In it, she goes into detail on what we need to do as individuals and as a nation in moving forward and fighting sexual harassment, including preventing its cover-up.

One of the main focuses of her op-ed is the fact that employers are currently allowed to force employees to sign contracts with arbitration clauses, mandating that all discrimination disputes—including those involving sexual harassment—be resolved in secret proceedings. Employers also need to reassess sexual harassment training and whether the human resources department is the most effective means of addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Injustice of Arbitration Clauses

At the heart of arbitration clauses is the desire to avoid going to court. Avoiding going to court has its perks for the entity (i.e. the employer) that has drafted the contract, namely that they get to choose the arbitrators and arbitration often tends to favor companies over individuals, but also that going to court makes an issue more public, and arbitration tends to foster more silence and cannot be appealed. Employees who are then the victims of sexual harassment are often unaware of others who have spoken up before or alongside them. This is a serious accountability issue.

There are Options

If you are dealing with an employment contract that brings up arbitration of disputes or which is confusing in any way, often consulting an experienced employment attorney before signing can be critical.

You also have the option of refusing to sign the contract, although many people would be concerned that by not signing, they could lose the job offer. However, it is important to keep in mind that you may have some room to negotiate when it comes to particular provisions in the agreement, especially if an employer hand-picked you to work for them. There are certain terms of the agreement that could be negotiated so that it is fairer, and you can always work with an employment attorney to adjust these provisions.

If  You Have Been the Victim of Sexual Harassment, Contact Us

We know that you may be scared or afraid of losing your job, or even of not being believed. Know that you are not alone: Almost half of all women have been sexually harassed at work.

Workplace harassment cannot be trivialized. Your first step should be speaking with an attorney who is experienced in this specific field. Remember that an attorney is not necessarily going to convince you to bring a lawsuit. He or she may actually explore other options with you first, and your conversation with this attorney is confidential and protected.

You can trust the New York sexual harassment attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg, LLC. We have been protecting victims in New York City and surrounding areas who have been subject to harassment in the workplace, hostile work environments, retaliation, wage and hour claims, and related issues for years. Contact us today for a free consultation—we are here to help: Call 212-JUSTICE and/or email us at info@employeejustice.com.

Elections Highlight Serious Sexual Harassment Issues in the Workplace

Posted in Sexual Harassment on January 12, 2017

2016 USA presidential election If you have been following the news this election season, you likely realize what a serious issue sexual harassment in and outside of the workplace has become in America. For example, nearly a dozen women have come forward with allegations that Donald Trump has sexually harassed and assaulted them. What Trump has labeled “locker room talk” has some of our leaders (like Michelle Obama) rightfully pointing out what has become a serious issue in this society; a society that has now elected a candidate who brags about sexually harassing women as our next President.

Sexual harassment and assault is unacceptable anywhere, anytime, in any form. It is a form of sexual discrimination that violates the legal rights of whomever is targeted, and it must be addressed. Unfortunately, it is prevalent. However, more and more women are increasingly emboldened to discuss the harassment that they have experienced and to do something about it.

Know Your Rights

Sexual harassment does not just present itself in the form of inappropriate remarks. It is also in the decision to, for example, deny an intern or staffer particular work or assignments when they refuse to go out for drinks with his or her supervisor.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex, origin, religion, race, or color. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including government agencies. However, there are also state laws in place that prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination.

Most cases of sexual harassment either show up as a “quid pro quo”whereby a positive employment decision is made based on subjecting oneself to sexual harassment, or in the form of a hostile work environment, whereby the environment itself has become intimidating, hostile, or offensive. It is also important to note that sex ual harassment does not just have to come from supervisors; it can come from anyone; inappropriate behavior is still inappropriate even if it comes from a co-worker or anyone else.

Title VII also forbids employers from retaliating against you for filing a sexual harassment charge or speaking out against harassment. If you choose to participate in an investigation or hearing on behalf of someone else in the workplace, you are protected from retaliation.

According to experts, employees in large private companies and federal agencies tend to have stronger protections against sexual harassment than, say, those who work in legislatures and other fields.

Sexual Harassment Attorneys Who Can Help

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or elsewhere, it is vital that you stand up and fight it. With over 20 years of experience and focus on sexual harassment cases, our team of New York attorneys can help you work towards a successful resolution of your case and the justice you are seeking. We fight passionately and aggressively for our clients, with a success rate of over 90%. Contact us today for your free consultation and we will get started helping you.

Sexual Harassment Can Happen Anywhere

Posted in Sexual Harassment on August 26, 2016

man sexually harassing coworkerWe have recently seen another high-profile case in the media involving alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. This time, Fox News is making its own news headlines involving sexual harassment claims. A former female news anchor and other women are saying top news chief, Roger Ailes, allegedly made improper comments and sexual advances towards them while they worked at the cable news network.

Sexual harassment is a horrible thing and can happen at a large news organization, as well as a small mom-and-pop company. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment can involve uninvited sexual advances, asking for sexual favors, and sexually suggestive spoken or physical conduct. Often the reaction the harassment will impact an employee’s position or employment in the company. It can create an intimidating or offensive workplace atmosphere. Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, and you should speak with an employment attorney immediately if you are experiencing it.

Quid Pro Quo is sexual harassment that happens when a superior or authority figure requests sexual favors or a sexual relationship in exchange for not terminating an employee. It can also take the form of an exchange for benefits, such as increased pay or a promotion within the company. Sometimes sexual harassment can create a hostile environment for the victim. He or she has to deal with sexual comments, jokes, graphic pictures, and other offensive material in the workplace. When any form of sexual harassment happens, it is wrong and illegal. You should seek the advice of a qualified employment attorney and learn your rights.

Sexual harassment can happen to both women and men. Sometimes, men can be harassed by women. However, it is more common for women to be harassed by men in the workplace. Sexual harassment can happen between individuals of the same sex. Sexual harassment can take place outside of an office setting. It has occurred in schools, colleges, universities, or other institutions of higher education. There have been cases of school administrators, teachers, and professors harassing students with inappropriate behavior and misconduct in an educational environment. A harasser is not always a boss, supervisor, or authority figure, either. The face of a harasser can be a co-worker, customer, or client in the workplace.

Many times companies will try to defend themselves in sexual harassment cases by arguing that the firm implemented the proper steps to correct the problem. Some companies try to prove they are not liable if the victim did not take the appropriate measures to report or expose incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace. Courts will decide if the employer knew or should have been aware of the inappropriate behavior and did not take action to correct it. Factors that may impact your sexual harassment case may include:

  • The type of behavior the alleged perpetrator conducted
  • How often the inappropriate behavior took place
  • Impact and severity of the inappropriate behavior or misconduct
  • The type of business or industry of the employer
  • How the victim reacted to the misconduct
  • The number of employees at the company

If you have been a victim of sexual harassment and your employment rights have been violated, you may be entitled to legal damages and compensation. Please contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg. Their lawyers will provide an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If your case merits going to court, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg will work diligently to help you find the justice you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg at (212) JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free initial consultation.

The Impact of Employment Law

Posted in Miscellaneous on August 19, 2016

Employment Law HandbooksEmployment law affects every aspect of the workplace. It determines your rights regarding hiring, wage and benefits, discrimination, family and medical leave, termination, and more. It is important that you know employment law, and how it affects you in the workplace. You have numerous employment rights and employment law enforces your protections. A well-versed employment law attorney is your best friend when you need an advocate to defend your rights in the workplace. Employment law guarantees a fair and safe workplace environment for companies and their employees. Often employees do not fully understand or realize the statutes and regulations outlined in employment law.

Employment Law at a Glance

Employment law is involved in the hiring process during an interview. It keeps interviewers from asking discriminatory questions. It explains the differences between being labeled an employee or contractor to a firm.

Employment law plays a significant role in firings and job losses. The law gives you certain protections during layoffs, terminations, and other issues affecting the unemployed. Employment law outlines unemployment insurance, severance pay, and other job-separation concerns.

Employment law covers federal and state laws regarding wages, benefits, and fair pay to employees. These laws determine which workers are eligible to receive overtime pay for working extended hours. When employers fail to comply, employment laws are in place to give employees their rights and protections.

Employment Law has mandates that prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Discrimination can come in all types of forms. Discrimination rights are protected under Tittle VII Rights Act of 1964.  It is against the law for any employer or boss to discriminate against someone because of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin. There are laws in place to ensure equal employment opportunities for all individuals.

There are laws covering Family and Medical leave for some employees. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers unpaid leave for certain employees who are covered by the federal law. FMLA applies to employers with at least 50 employees. The law varies by state. In New York, laws have recently changed to allow paid-family-leave for the majority of workers in the state.

Workers have a right to a work environment that is safe and free of health and safety threats or violations. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulates and enforces safety and health standards for the nation’s workforce. When an employee is hurt on the job, the company is usually responsible for medical costs and other expenses associated with the injury. Companies can face fines when they do not comply with safety standards outlined by OSHA.

Employment laws are in place to protect employees who report illegal activities or violations involving their employers. These laws protect employees against retaliation and other hostile workplace environments that may develop due to whistleblowing.

It is vital for employees and employers to become familiar with employment laws and how they impact, improve, and influence the workplace. There are laws to protect employees from abuses in the workplace. It is important for companies and employees to consult with a qualified employment law attorney who can explain these laws in greater detail.

If your employer (or former employer) has violated any employment law and you feel your employment rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation for damages and losses. Please contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg. Their lawyers will provide an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If your case merits going to court, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg will work diligently to help you find the justice you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg at (212) JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free initial consultation.

New York Workers Will Get a Raise and More Family Leave

Posted in Family & Medical Leave Act on July 29, 2016

Young mother working from homeRecently, the New York State Legislature promised a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour and has mandated paid family leave time for the majority of New York workers. Experts say this is the nation’s most comprehensive bill that impact families and employees in the workplace. New York is now one of five other states in the United States to mandate paid leave, which is considered the most robust form of the family leave measure. The New York program will mandate up to 12 weeks of paid time off from a job to bond with a newborn child or to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent, child, domestic partner or other family loved one. It can include adopted or foster children, too. An experienced employment law attorney can explain how these new changes and laws in the New York workplace may affect you and your family.

Prior to the passage of the new law, New Yorkers were only protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows some employers to provide job protection for certain employees who need to take time off for family emergencies. The Family and Medical Leave Act does not guarantee that these workers will be paid for their time off. It also requires that an employee seeking job protection be employed by the company for more than one year. It only covers workers who have worked a specific amount of hours in the previous year. More importantly, the Family and Medical Leave Act does not include companies with fewer than 50 employees.

With this new and more comprehensive bill, many of these exceptions will no longer exist. The paid leave program will cover all employees, including full-time and part-time workers. There is no exemption for small companies. Workers can take advantage of the new paid leave program after just six months of being employed with the company. With this new program, there will be no employer contribution. Instead, about a dollar a week will be deducted from the worker’s paycheck to fund the program.

It will be one year and a half before the bill becomes permanent law in New York. The new program is scheduled to start on January 1, 2018, and it will be gradually phased into the workplace. In 2018, New York workers will be eligible for up to eight weeks of leave a year. In 2019, it will increase to 10 weeks and then up to 12 weeks in 2021.

If your employer (or former employer) is not paying you fairly for your work or violating any of your employment rights, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg. Their lawyers will provide an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If your case merits going to court, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg will work diligently to help you find the justice you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg at (212) JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free initial consultation.

Rights of the Disabled Worker

Posted in Disability Discrimination on July 25, 2016

Disabled Office WorkerEmployment discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities is not only illegal but prohibited by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA covers all types of employers, from federal to private. Furthermore, the law affects all aspects of employment such as hiring, firing, promotions, training, benefits, and other employment issues. If you find that any of your rights regarding employment issues have been violated you should contact an experienced employment law attorney immediately.

The ADA views a disability as any mental or physical impairment that substantially limits major life activities. According to the ADA the term disability means:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities such as: breathing, seeing, hearing, walking, sitting, standing, sleeping, caring for yourself, lifting, or learning.
  • Having a record of an impairment
  • Being regarded as having an impairment

New York State law provides broader protection for employees with disabilities than the federal law outlined in the ADA. The New York state statute includes conditions such as obesity and stress-related diseases or disorders within its definition of disability.

The New York City Human Rights Law applies only to residents of New York City. The law makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone with a disability, which includes HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, the New York City Human Rights Law broadens its definition of a disability to include any medical, mental, or psychological impairment or a history/record of impairment. These protections are much broader than the federal law outlined in ADA.

To be covered by ADA in the workplace, an individual must be qualified to properly perform the main functions of the job. You should have the appropriate education, skills, and experience to be able to perform the essential functions outlined in the job description. However, employers cannot disqualify you from the job, if your disability limits you from performing tasks that are not considered essential to the job.

Your ADA rights require that employers make reasonable accommodations or adjustments to the workplace that will allow you to perform your work successfully. These reasonable accommodations may include:

  • A restructure of training materials and work procedures
  • Flexible or adjustable work schedules
  • Modifications to current equipment and office space
  • Accommodations for persons with disabilities
  • Hiring language interpreters for speech assistance

An employer cannot ask a current employee or potential hire if they possess a disability. This question would be inappropriate and illegal. However, the employer may ask a person if they can perform the major duties of the position. Your answer will help the employer know if they need to create a reasonable accommodation for you to perform the job.

If your employer (or former employer) has wrongfully terminated due to a disability or if any of your employment rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg. Their lawyers will provide an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If your case merits going to court, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg will work diligently to help you find the justice you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg at (212) JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free initial consultation.

Whistleblower Rights in the Workplace

Posted in Whistle Blowing,Wrongful Termination on June 20, 2016

Female blowing a whistleAre there laws to protect you from being fired when you report wrongdoing by your employer? A question many corporate whistleblowers ask themselves. A whistleblower is an employee who learns a boss, co-worker or company has broken the law and reports their misdeeds to an outside party. Your honesty and courage are protected by state and federal laws. Therefore, do not fear the consequences of your actions. State and federal laws will keep your misbehaving employer from retaliating against you. There are statutes to protect you from being fired or wrongfully terminated by your employer. First, you are protected by the False Claims Act. This law gives you the right and freedom to report any fraudulent activities without fear of retaliation. This law deals mainly with the federal government and federal contractors. Many cities and states have their own version of the False Claims Act.

The New York City False Claims Act protects all city employees including those working for elected officials, such as the City Council, Borough Presidents, and the New York City Comptroller. Their jobs will not be in jeopardy for reporting misconduct, criminal behavior, corruption, mismanagement of funds, conflicts of interests and abuse of power. Whistleblowers can bring suit in the name of the City of New York when someone tries to defraud the city or state of taxpayer money.

According to the New York City Law Department website, “On May 19, 2005, Mayor Bloomberg signed into law the New York City False Claims Act (Local Law 53 of 2005), which authorizes citizens to bring lawsuits to recover treble damages for fraudulent claims submitted to the City. An important new tool with which the City can fight fraud perpetrated against it, the statute creates a way for people to help the City recover money lost through fraud, and is patterned after the federal “Qui Tam” statute. As an incentive to bring suits, this new law allows successful citizen plaintiffs, under certain circumstances, to keep as much as 30% of funds they help recover.”

There is a national law that protects whistleblowers working in a publicly traded company called the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. SOX was created to curb widespread fraud that many large corporations were practicing during that time. Companies covered by SOX are corporations that are registered under the Securities Exchange Act and required to file reports with the Security Exchange Commission. Contractors and agents of these companies are covered by the law. You can file a claim under this law against an employer who violates it. A wrongful termination attorney can assist you in filing your claim. SOX provides comprehensive protections for all corporate whistleblowers. It contains civil and criminal provisions. The law prohibits employment discrimination for workers employed by publicly traded companies and protects whistleblowers from any retaliation by their employers. Retaliation action by an employer may include:

  • A demotion in your employment
  • Not providing overtime pay or promotions
  • Threats of firing or actually firing a person
  • A decrease in work hours or schedule
  • A reduction in wages
  • Withholding benefits from an employee
  • Mistreatment involving harassment or intimidation tactics

If your employer (or former employer) has wrongfully terminated you for whistleblowing or violated your employment rights, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg.  Their lawyers will provide an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If your case merits going to court, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg will work diligently to help you find the justice you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg at (212) JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free initial consultation.

A Retaliatory Discharge is a Wrongful Termination

Posted in Wrongful Termination on June 7, 2016

Boss Blaming Female ExecutiveA couple of weeks ago, Donna filed a sexual harassment claim against her current boss, John. She was tired of his suggestive comments and unprofessional behavior in the workplace. Since her claim, many people in the office have distanced themselves from her. She is now the topic of break room gossip. Things began to get worse last week. Her boss barged into her office and fired her. He said her presence in the office and sexual harassment claim hindered productivity. He threatened that he would make it difficult for her to find another job anywhere else she applied. After his rude comments, he walked out the office and slammed the door. Donna was left perplexed, shaking, and in tears. Donna’s fictional tale is, unfortunately, true for many workers who are faced with retaliatory discharge in the workplace.

Have you experienced a retaliatory discharge from your boss or company? You do know that if you were, it is considered a wrongful termination. That means your employer fired you for reasons that are unjust or illegal. A retaliatory discharge may have happened because you filed a discrimination claim, a worker’s compensation claim or revealed fraudulent activities going on in your workplace. There are state and federal laws that protect you against these type of situations. You should never be fired for exercising your employee rights.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation is the most common concern alleged by federal employees. Furthermore, it is the most common discrimination finding in federal jobs. Almost half of the complaints by federal workers in 2013 were for retaliation claims. Retaliation was the culprit in 42% of findings of discrimination. If complaints from the private sector mirror the documented complaints from the federal sector than the problem may be widespread among all workers in general. The law prohibits retaliation in all areas of the workplace, including promotions, hiring, firing, pay, training benefits, layoffs and job duties. An employer cannot fire, demote, harass, or retaliate against an employee for exercising their employment rights in the workplace. All the laws enforced by the EEOC provide protections against retaliation. An experienced employment law attorney can help you better understand these laws and how they may affect your case and wrongful termination claim. These laws include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • The Equal Pay Act

If your employer (or former employer) has wrongfully terminated you in retaliation or violated your employment rights, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg. Their lawyers will provide an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If your case merits going to court, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg will work diligently to help you find the justice you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg at (212) JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free initial consultation.

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