Sexual Harassment

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.

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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.

Bosses Acting Badly in the Workplace

Posted in Sexual Harassment on March 14, 2016

sexual harrassmentGeorgia has been working as an Executive Assistant for five years and enjoyed her job until she experienced an inappropriate conversation with her boss. The CEO of the company asked her to accompany him to his family beach house on the weekend while his wife is away. He said he always wanted to see Georgia in a bathing suit. He complimented her on her good looks and said she would look great in a bikini. If she accepted his offer, he would give her a hefty raise and promotion. If she refused, she should seek new employment. His comments made Georgia very uncomfortable and uncertain about her future. She felt intimidated, humiliated, and disrespected. What can Georgia do? Georgia has several legal rights and options.

Many people find themselves in inappropriate office dilemmas, such as Georgia in the fictional story. Her case is an example of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, it a real situation and a problem for many employees in the workplace today. It can happen to women and men. According to a Cosmopolitan survey of 2,235 female employees, one in three women has experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment in the workplace is often made as a condition of an individual’s employment. The conduct creates an intimidating or offensive environment for the victim. The acceptance or refusal of such conduct may affect an individual’s employment and advancement with the company.

Federal and New York Laws Protect Victims

According to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you can file a charge of employment discrimination with the EEOC.

New York State’s Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law also prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Recently, the New York State Assembly passed the Women’s Equity Act, which prohibits sexual harassment in all workplaces regardless of the number of employees. Prior to this law, only workplaces with four or more employees were protected. According to the NYS Division of Human Rights over 60% of New York State employers employ less than four employees. Under this new law, all workers are now protected in New York.

Sexual harassment happens in many different industries and professions, from farmworkers to the theatre. Broadway actors in New York are lobbying for better ways to address sexual harassment and misconduct behind the stage.

Get Legal Help and Advice

If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment or feel an employer has violated your rights, 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.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Posted in Sexual Harassment on October 26, 2015

Worker Harassed By Female BossIn April 2015, CBS made national headlines because one of its own, Kenneth Lombardi, sued CBS for sexual harassment. Lombardi, a CBS celebrity reporter sued the company due to an alleged co-worker “drunkenly groping him during a boozy encounter.” Though one can blame this encounter on the alcohol, there was alleged misconduct following this encounter between the two counterparts. Due to CBS not taking the allegations seriously, Lombardi claims that he was forced to leave his job, and sought damages for the violation of labor laws, amongst other things.

Though this case was newsworthy because of the corporation that was being sued, sexual harassment in the workplace happens every day. If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contacting a Sexual Harassment Attorney at The Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg could be beneficial to your case. We are dedicated to fighting for you.

What is Sexual Harassment in New York City?

According to New York City law it is unlawful to harass a person who is an applicant or employee because of that person’s sex. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Though these are the common ways a person can be sexually harassed, sexual harassment can also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. It is important to note that the person bringing suit does not have to be the victim, but can be anyone who was affected by the offensive conduct. In most instances, a sexual harasser is someone who is in a position of power or authority and in 2014 the EEOC recorded 31.2% of cases that were held before it consisted of sex discrimination. To break this number down further, three in ten cases before the EEOC were sex discrimination cases.

What are the Sexual Harassment Laws?

Sexual harassment in New York City is a form of sex discrimination that violates federal employment discrimination law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as New York State’s Human Rights Law and New York City’s Human Rights Law. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees including state and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations, and the federal government. New York State’s Human Rights Law and the New York City’s Human Rights Law prohibit sexual harassment and reach much smaller employers than the Civil Rights Act.

Sexual Harassment will be considered under the totality of the circumstances when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, it unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or when it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. If any of the above occurs, it is important for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Also, the victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system that is available to the victim.

Need Legal Advice?

If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you do not have to fight for justice alone. We understand that difficulty that accompanies a sexual harassment suit and we are dedicated to fighting for you. Sexual harassment cases require an experienced New York City sexual harassment attorney and we are dedicated to fighting for you. Contact The Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg today at info@employeejustice.com or (212)-JUSTICE. We are here for you and offer free case evaluation!

Sexual Harassment is Illegal in All Working Environments

Posted in Sexual Harassment on February 23, 2015

man harassing female coworkerNew York and federal law both prohibit sexual harassment.  It is considered a form of sex discrimination.  Illegal sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct is used as the basis for making employment decisions or results in a hostile work environment because is its frequency or severity.

There is a wide range of conduct that can constitute sexual harassment, from obscene, recurring sexual jokes, whether directed at the employee or someone else, to direct quid pro quo sexual harassment, where sexual favors are exchanged for favorable workplace decisions.  Individuals of any gender can be the victims of sexual harassment or the harassers.

It is widely believed that sexual harassment in the workplace is underreported, and anecdotally, the employment discrimination attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg can say that many of our clients that have faced sexual harassment have been reluctant to come forward.  We’ve also noticed an even greater reluctance to come forward when the employee being harassed is in a particular type of working environment.

Where is Sexual Harassment Most Prevalent?

Both females and males in traditionally male dominated professions tend to be more reluctant to come forward regarding sexual harassment. The construction and closely-related engineering industries are so notorious for the sexual harassment that occurs that it’s almost considered part of the job, and women feel compelled to wear more masculine or gender-neutral attire to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

More recently, the technology sector has been the subject of investigative scrutiny for the frat-like working environments, where harassing behavior, or conduct that borders it, is the norm.  Just last year, headlines exploded when Tinder, the ubiquitous dating app, was sued by one of its cofounders for sexual harassment.  Whitney Wolfe, cofounder of Tinder, sued her former partners and their new parent company after being pushed out of the company following ongoing harassment.

The conduct of Wolfe’s fellow cofounders was egregious.  Wolfe reported being told it was “too slutty” for her to be considered a cofounder of a dating app.  She was also chastised for hiring an attorney to help protect her from threats. Her fellow cofounder repeatedly sent her abusive and threatening texts during work hours despite her clear requests for him to stop.  The case eventually settled, reportedly for a little over $1 million, not surprising if you review some of the text messages sent to Wolfe, which are widely available online.

Reach Out to a Professional for Help

The attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg understand how difficult it can be to stand-up against sexual harassment, particularly in environments where it is the norm.  Yet, in these situations it is perhaps even more important that they do – the conduct is unlikely to cease without legal intervention and it helps change the environment for other current and future employees.  The attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg have the experience needed to help you bring your sexual harassment case and ensure that you are protected from retaliation after.

Call us today at (212) JUSTICE or e-mail us at info@employeejustice.com and let us take over the fight for you.

New York City Woman Fired for Complaints of Sexual Harassment

Posted in Sexual Harassment on January 12, 2015

Woman walking in Central Park A New York City Parks Department employee was recently fired after complaining of sexual harassment, according to a report in the New York Daily NewsValerie Marville claims that her supervisors at the Parks Department fired her for being a “disrepute to the city” after she was allegedly sent salacious text messages and complained of the behavior.  Interestingly, although the Department of Investigation (“DOI”) found wrongdoing on the part of both supervisors, those individuals are still employed by the City.

Marville has been working for the Parks Department since 2009, and is a single mother of three.  She claims that her supervisors held “raunchy” unauthorized office parties and made inappropriate comments to her in the office.  Additionally, Marville claims she and other seasonal Parks Department employees were offered additional opportunities if they were willing to take off their clothes at parties.

After Marville complained of the conduct in 2013 she was transferred to a different position. However, when the Daily News ran a front-page story about Marville’s complaints she was soon suspended before ultimately being terminated.  The Parks Department also fought Marville’s unemployment claim after she was terminated.

Retaliation in New York City all too Common

This case is the latest in a string of retaliation claims against New York City agencies.  Employees should feel free to make complaints about illegal activity at their places of employment without the fear of adverse action.  Indeed, retaliation is an illegal form of discrimination that occurs when an employee exercises his or her rights under the law and is subjected to termination or other forms of discipline as a result.  Although Marville’s case is the extreme form of retaliation, wherein an employee complained of sexual harassment and was fired as a direct result, retaliation can take many different forms, all of which are illegal.

Retaliation is Illegal Activity and should not go Unpunished

If something illegal is taking place where you work, do not be afraid to complain.  Indeed, in the unlikely event that your employer takes adverse action against you, you may indeed have legal recourse.  Those employers who choose to engage in illegal activity and attempt to quash complaints through retaliatory practices must be made to pay.

Forms of adverse action that may give rise to a claim for retaliation include (but are not limited to) the following:  termination; suspension; demotion; transfer; reduction of hours; reduction in pay; negative performance reviews; and harassment or the creation of a hostile work environment.  All of the aforementioned forms of retaliation frequently occur by someone who has been accused of illegal conduct like sexual harassment.  In such cases the victim is punished by the conduct that occurs, then is punished a second time when the adverse action happens.  Don’t let this happen to you.

If you have complained about illegal conduct in the workplace and believe you have been subjected to adverse employment action as a result, do not hesitate to contact the employment lawyers at Joseph & Norinsberg or a free consultation. You may have a claim for significant damages as a result of illegal retaliation.  Contact us today at 212-JUSTICE or info@employeejustice.com for an evaluation of your case.

Unpaid NBC Workers Settle Lawsuit for over $6 Million

Posted in Sexual Harassment on November 10, 2014

internshipHorizontal

A group of unpaid NBC workers have settled a recent lawsuit for a very large sum, according to a report.  Approximately 9,000 interns working on “Saturday Night Live” and other shows brought suit against the media giant last summer for back wages.  According to the interns, they were either paid nothing or less than minimum wage for their time with NBC.  Although this is a victory for the interns, it is important to note that the average class member will only receive approximately $505 before taxes.

Companies have long argued that unpaid internships gain experience and contacts via a “foot in the door.”  In reality, many businesses exploit young and inexperienced help and effectively hire them to perform tasks completed by paid employees under the guise of an “internship.” This is an unacceptable practice that needs attention called to it, and thankfully lawsuits like the aforementioned case against NBC bring attention to the problem even if the employees aren’t compensated as much as they should be owed.

Department of Labor Test for Unpaid Interns

In order to properly qualify as unpaid interns, individuals working at a company must meet a test that has been outlined by the United States Department of Labor (as well as any state standards that may be more specific).  According to the DOL, in order to properly classify employees as unpaid interns, the interns must be receiving training for their own educational benefit and must meet six specific criteria:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If any of the aforementioned factors are not met the relationship between the company and the “intern” likely classifies as an employment relationship whereby all federal and state wage and hour laws must be followed including minimum wage and overtime requirements.  Because the Fair Labor Standards Act and other laws use a broad definition of the term “employ,” the unpaid intern exclusion is intentionally narrow.

If you or someone you love is performing unpaid work for a company and questions whether they should be paid, do not hesitate to contact the employment lawyers at Joseph & Norinsberg or a free consultation.  Do not fear career assassination, as any adverse action taken for asserting your right to collect wages owed to you could breed a subsequent retaliation claim.  Contact us today at 212-JUSTICE or info@employeejustice.com for an evaluation of your case.

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